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Multi-Instrumentalist/Producer Zo! is Detroit-area born and raised Lorenzo Ferguson.
Music was always present in and around the Ferguson house, which led to Zo! taking piano lessons at age 6… which he absolutely despised. The idea of working toward a Major League Baseball career served as the greatest inspiration through his teenage years much more so than the concept of practicing music. After his parents consistently pushed and encouraged him to stick with music, Zo! discovered a newfound passion by teaching himself how to play piano by ear by age 11. Zo! got his production start in 1992 when his parents brought home a Proteus MPS keyboard and a Brother PDC100 sequencer for him to figure out. Since then, he has emphasized the use of live instrumentation as the blueprint for his music while constantly looking to expand his sound with each album release.
The sophomore release from producer/keyboardist Zo! of The Foreign Exchange's +FE Music family Manmade will be released on May 21, 2013 and will include appearances from Phonte, Eric Roberson, Sy Smith, Jeanne Jolly, Carmen Rodgers, Anthony David and more.
What ever happened to GOOD music? You know—the feel good, soul stirring music that moves every part of your physical, mental, and spiritual being. Some people believe music like this no longer exists; especially with all the booty poppin’, overplayed voice synthesizer songs filling the clubs and radio airways. Don’t give up just yet. Lovers of pure, organic music have a reason to believe again: Choklate.The Seattle-based songstress, who writes all her own music, has already taken the breath away from many listeners around the world. CHOKLATE infuses her sultry alto voice with hard, progressive beats and very real lyrics—sparking many different kinds of emotions. “All of the music that I make is from my soul,” Choklate genuinely confirms.
There’s no need in trying to make her fit into one particular music genre. She candidly explains, “I just do what I feel inside. A lot of times I go into the booth and just try stuff. Whatever the music says to do, I do. I’m just a big ol’ mash of good music.” She does admit that people who like Hip-Hop, R&B, Blues, and Jazz will probably be more attracted to her style. One person in particular that was attracted to her style was radio host and personality Michael Baisden. In November of 2007 ‘The Michael Baisden Show’ named CHOKLATE the B-side artist of the month. CHOKLATE was interviewed live on air and was able to reach and estimated 12-million listeners.
Believe it or not, CHOKLATE did not see music as an option until she relocated back to Seattle from Southern California (where she was raised). “I arrived at my brother’s house, and there was a music studio in front of me,” she says. Her brother, owner of Common Sense Studio, allowed CHOKLATE in the booth after she constantly joked with him about allowing her in the studio. Her story is not like most trying to break into the industry. “I had no idea. I was going to school for graphic design; working in nursing. I had a certificate in nursing, and I just started to do office managing,” she says. The day she walked in the booth was the day she realized she was onto something. This new found passion led her to her self-titled debut album (re-released in 2008 under her own ChoklateMusic label).
CHOKLATE created a tremendous buzz following the worldwide release of her debut. She performed in Sweden, France, Italy, UK (to name a few). Back in the US CHOKLATE performed at the ‘I Got Soul’ Conference in Dallas, Texas; she opened for Neo-Soul genius Bilal at the Highline Ballroom in NYC; she had the pleasure of opening for R&B group Boyz to Men in Seattle. And she didn’t stop there. CHOKLATE headlined her first ever performance at The Blue Note in NYC; she performed at the Underground Soul Sessions Concert in Houston, TX; the Soul Is…Concert Series with good friend Darrius Willrich in Cheverly, Maryland; and she had the honor of performing with jazz legend Roy Ayers at Sugarhill in Atlanta.
Even prior to those dates, in March of 2007 CHOKLATE headlined and pulled off one of the most anticipated indie soul concert tours to hit the East Coast. The Hustle Hard Tour reached Atlanta, Virginia, NYC, DC, Boston, and two sold out finale shows on her Seattle turf. Her increased visibility landed her a nomination for a SoulTracks Award (www.soultracks.com) for ‘Female Vocalist of the Year;’ and made her winner of a HoneySoul ‘Best of 2006’ Award (www.honeysoul.com) and the AGAPE Indie Artist Award for ‘Female R&B/Soul Artist of the Year.’
In the studio CHOKLATE has worked with some of Seattle’s finest producers: Vitamin D, Bean One, Jake One, Kuddie Mak, Dwight Donyea Goodman, Jay Townsend and Amos Miller. While on the road she has shared stages with soul music royalty like Dwele, Anthony David, Raheem DeVaughn, Res, Eric Roberson, Bilal to name a few. This is all on top of already having appeared on tracks with legendary artists like Blacksheep, Abstract Rude, Butta Verses, De La Soul, Gift of Gab and Chali 2na’s solo albums. When CHOKLATE is at home in Seattle she is always appreciative to work and perform for her home town. She has performed at Seattle’s hottest venues like The Baltic Room, The Scarlett Tree, Lo-Fi The Mirabeau Room, The War Room, Chop Suey, Triple Door, Neumos and The Showbox.
While continuing to work hard and take advantage of every opportunity to do what she loves, CHOKLATE remains humble and true to whom she is as a person; and continues to break industry standards with her fresh, vibrant demeanor which shines through her music. “My greatest accomplishment is being a woman I am proud to look at in the mirror—I like who I’m turning in to,” she says.