The Ambitious, Creative Rhythms Of Zed Kenzo

By Eric Cummings and Erika Janik | August 12, 2016


Listen Online

Zed Kenzo’s music is a reflection of her personality: bold, independent and creative.

Zacharia Ruffin, known more commonly by her stage name Zed Kenzo, is a Milwaukee-based musician who has been passionate about music her entire life. With her mother’s encouragement, Ruffin started playing the piano at a young age in addition to singing for her church choir.

“My mom put me on the piano when I was seven and I was also in the church choir growing up,” Ruffin says. “From there I would start writing my own songs.”

Ruffin’s experience as a dancer when she was young also prepared her for a career as an entertainer. Today, she still enjoys the thrills of performing in concerts compared to recording in a studio.

“Recording I get so tedious and hard on myself. I will record the shortest song, a minute and 20 seconds long, and it will take me all day,” Ruffin explains. “I’ll just keep doing it over and over and over, it’s really strenuous.”

To make the recording process less stressful, Ruffin focuses entirely on the music first, then writes the lyrics later.

“I make the beat first. I have to complete that first, then I start writing over it. The lyrics always come after,” says Ruffin.

Despite the challenges of recording and performing, Ruffin loves the freedom that comes with being a young artist. Instead of fame, all she hopes to gain from the experience is a sense of happiness and self-fulfillment.

“I want to be happy, and I want to be able to continue to do what I like doing and continue growing,” says Ruffin.



This story was produced in partnership with Set List, WPR’s summer music series. 

Eric Cummings

Eric Cummings

Eric Cummings is a production assistant for the “Wisconsin Life” project who enjoys exploring state parks, cheering on the Badgers and warm summer nights at the Terrace in Madison.
Erika Janik

Erika Janik

Erika Janik is the co-creator and former executive director of Wisconsin Life. She is the author of six books, including Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction, Apple: A Global History, and  Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She’s currently the executive...
2018-01-19T17:52:59-06:00Tags: , , , , |

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