Lois Zozobrado is far from the typical teen who just graduated high school.
The former Perry High School student, who will study at ASU this fall, has already released two albums, including her sophomore effort, People I Knew, which was released in May.
Raised in Chandler, Zozobrado was adopted from China and suffered from nodules on her vocal cords, a common problem among performers. People I Knew strays a bit from experiences like those.
“This was about people who I actually knew, versus my first album, Sunshine Boulevard, which was about stories in my head and pulling from my own experiences,” Zozobrado says.
The heartfelt album shows an unplugged side of Zozobrado’s music. Her powerful, soulful voice is the attention grabber. The track list includes original songs like “People I Knew” and “Heart & Arrow,” and covers of classic songs like “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
“I always like when sound is raw, like acoustic and live,” she says.
Flamenco dancers in a Spanish hotel lobby on a family trip inspired Zozobrado to pen “Flamenco Wave,” while “Red Red Robin” is about the struggle of two of her friends. It touches on the vocal surgery as well. Both situations were heartbreaking.
Only 18, Zozobrado may be only 18, but her lyrics and voice point to an old soul. She had a bit of help on People I Knew by a collective of folks like Grammy-winning pianist Michael Broening, as well as bassist Andy Gonzales and producer Cindy Standage. The album was recorded at Three Leaf Recording in Phoenix, with engineer Sean Cooney.
“Lois has very mature thoughts for someone as young as she is,” Standage says.
Zozobrado adds Standage gave her musical freedom in the studio.
“Cindy would give her opinion, but she would let me fix (the issues) if I wanted to,” she says.
Zozobrado showcased her new album on May 11 to a packed crowd of her family and friends like now-former Chandler Vice Mayor Nora Ellen at SoZo Coffeehouse in Chandler.
“It was really exciting to have support of friends, family, city council members and local friends of mine,” Zozobrado says.
Lori Morgan, co-owner of Sozo Coffehouse and community liaison, has known Zozobrado for several years and is impressed by her.
“She needs very little coaching,” Morgan says. “She has the wonderful momentum for a young musician.”
Standage says from the moment she met Zozobrado she thought “this girl, she’s got what it takes to do it.
“She’s willing to put in the effort. She’s willing to stay up at night and to get up early in the morning to work on something, to make sure it’s right,” Standage says.
Standage knows the music business well, as she has opened for Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. She enjoys mentoring young acts like Zozobrado.
“I don’t just mentor someone because they like to sing,” Standage says. “They have to have a real desire and a real talent.” When she and Zozobrado met, Standage could see “the fire in her eyes.”
“Lois’ greatest strength is her writing,” Standage says.
The teen isn’t just an aspiring performer. She is interested in the behind-the-scenes work that goes into music, like booking artists for performances at My Tea in Phoenix. To garner more experience, she hopes to intern at a radio station or booking/management agency.
Zozobrado’s goal is to work in the music industry. such as, public relations, marketing, business, touring or doing her own music as an artist.
“I think if you’re going to be successful in music, you have to be passionate about it,” said Zozobrado, of Chandler. “It shines through in performances and when you talk to people about music.
Lois Zozobrado, Salon Rock, 8109 E. Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale, 480.941.0111, salonrockaz.com, noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 23, free.