Zhavia signed to Columbia Records and collabed with French Montana – all before turning 18
While most teenagers are trying to quietly play beer pong in their friend’s basements without waking any parents, Zhavia Ward is collaborating with French Montana and Lil Pump, and has fans who tattoo her likeness on their faces.
Just a few months back, the 17-year-old made her musical break out on Fox’s latest singing competition, “The Four,” where she placed third and immediately signed with Columbia Records in May.
Although she didn’t win, the fame and fan admiration that she gained would have people thinking that she did. Boasting over 3.3 million Instagram followers, Zhavia has people praising her everywhere she goes – including several times throughout our interview in the middle of a Blue Ribbon in NYC.
Of course, the minute she opens her mouth to sing (picture Christina Aguilera meets Pixie Lott), it’s really no wonder why!
However, despite her instant fame and powerhouse vocals, Zhavia remains as humble and sweet as ever. I caught up with her just before she drops her brand new single, “Deep Down,” and her first ever EP next month.
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When did you first get into music?
I started getting into music ever since I was a baby. Both of my parents are musicians, my mom was in a metal band and my dad did R&B, so it’s just a natural instinct to sing! I’ve been singing ever since I can remember.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I would say who inspires me the most would be Jessie J, Post Malone, and Drake.
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So you’re about to release your new single. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
My next single is called, “Deep Down.” It really shows my true style and what I represent, which is R&B and Hip Hop. It still sounds like really authentic and original, but it has so much musical inspiration from soul music.
Is that how you would describe your musical style?
Yes! R&B and Hip Hop.
Your first release was called “Welcome To The Party” and you collaborated with French Montana and Lil Pump. How was it working with such huge names for your first project? Did they give you any advice?
It was really cool being able to go on that soundtrack because it’s definitely an urban track and for that to be the first song I go out with, I thought was a smart move. French was a really friendly and sweet and kind and caring person. I didn’t really talk to Lil Pump that much, but he was cool he was doing his own thing (laughs).
Just to be on a soundtrack for such a big movie, coming off of a show and right away going to that, I think says a lot how serious I am about music and how hard I’m working for my career.
Absolutely! I mean you’re only 17, that’s crazy. Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on normal teenager stuff? Or does it not even phase you?
I definitely don’t feel like I’m missing out because I’ve grown up fast in general, it’s not just music that’s made me grow fast. Just everything my family has been through and the struggles of life.
I feel like I’m a lot older that I actually am and sometimes I forget that I’m 17, but I don’t really have any want to do teenager stuff. I’m just living my life and living my passion! I love what I do.
You’ve gotten recognized like, three times just sitting here. How has it been adjusting to that?
I feel like for me, I didn’t have to do a lot of adjusting, because I’ve always wanted this. I’ve always wanted to sing and do music and now that I’m able to do it, you know that comes with it. It’s really awesome to meet my fans and love what I do and support me because they’re the ones who got me to where I am.
Do you ever interact with fans on social media?
Yeah! Everyday I check to see the edits that my fans make and the art and I like their posts or I’ll comment. I love to interact with them and let them know I appreciate them.
You’re Instagram following sky-rocketed while you were on “The Four.” You have 3.3 million followers. Is it intimidating to keep up with that? Do you feel pressured to keep up with the social media craze?
I’m always so busy and caught up in making music and writing music, so sometimes it’s hard for me to find the time to post or get a photo because I’m in the zone. I try as much as I can to keep up with that! I try to be better at it.
Your style is sick. Where do you get inspiration from?
That’s a good question! I don’t know, it comes from everything. People walking down the street, Instagram, musicians that I like from the past. I just take it from everything! I really like punk fashion and vintage, those are two of my favorite styles that I try to incorporate in my look.
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Any brands in particular that you’re drawn to?
A lot of people ask me that. I don’t think there’s a store that has everything I like, so I just kind of take from different places. I have been going to Urban Outfitters lately just because they’ve caught onto the vintage trend. And Zumi’s! I like Zumi’s.
If you could wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
That’s a good question. This is probably going to sound really lazy, but I’d probably just wear a onesie. I’m on the hunt right now to find a really good onesie! So if anyone knows where to find one, DM me!
You have so many awesome tattoos, I love them. Which one is your favorite?
I think it’s between my knuckles, just because I love the script. It says “kind soul.” Then my shoulder, it’s not finished yet, but it’s the Grim Reaper. It’s not done yet, but it’s going to be really sick.
I heard fans are tattooing your face onto them! Is that super weird for you or do you think it’s cool?
I think it’s really cool because I’d never think people would get tattoos of me. But it’s cool because I get stuff that I love all over me. Eventually, I’ll get probably get a portrait of another artist or something. I only have Jesus right now!
So if you had to chose who you’d get tattooed onto you, who would it be?
Probably Bob Marley. Just because I really like what he represented and his view on things was really positive and that’s what how I want to be.
Ok, if you had to chose any album to play as the soundtrack of your life, what would it be?
Probably Drake’s “Views.”
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What’s next for you?
My next single will be released on the 31st! There’s also a video for that, we shot that in London. I’m also releasing my EP next month. I worked super hard writing for the last six months so I really hope everyone enjoys it!
Photos by Keri Dolan