Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist ZZ Ward spent her childhood splitting her listening time between her father's blues collection and her brother's hip-hop records, a blend that would be a big part of her sound and style. She was singing in her father's blues band by the time she was 12, and by 16 she was singing with hip-hop acts. Moving to L.A., Ward's unique blend of blues, rock, hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul brought her a recording deal with Boardwalk Entertainment Group, and she began work on a debut album. A free mixtape, Eleven Roses, appeared in February 2012, with an EP, Criminal, following in May, and Til the Casket Drops, the completed album, showed up that October. ~ Steve Leggett.