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The Scouting Report

Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report 2024: Zora

ZoraPhoto: William Hawk, Graphic: Natalia Toledo | MPR

by Sanni Brown and John Kueppers

April 10, 2024

For Minnesota Music Month, The Current polled the local music industry for April’s edition of The Scouting Report. More than 90 people filled out this year’s Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report ballot, and 253 unique artists were chosen overall. The top 10 artists — well, 11 because of a tie — who received the most support include Zora.

Zora is a Minneapolis-based artist, producer, singer, and rapper. Originally from Chicago, Zora credits the Gully Boys for introducing her to the Minnesota music scene. She says the group’s drummer Nadirah McGill was a guiding presence early on in Zora’s career in Minnesota and connected her to her label, Get Better Records.  

To Zora, the Minnesota music scene means freedom of expression. Minneapolis celebrates LGBTQ+ artists in a way she hadn’t experienced within other scenes she’s been a part of, especially collectives like Vogue Down Minneapolis. Zora will perform at Carbon Sound’s Minnesota Music Month show at Amsterdam Bar & Hall on Friday, April 19, alongside MMYYKK, Reiki, and Xina.  

She recently visited MPR for an interview with Carbon Sound’s host Sanni Brown. They discussed the music she’s been working on since the release of her first album, Z1. They also covered themes and sounds people can expect from her next album, her everlasting love for hip-hop and performing, and a whole lot more. 

Zora couldn’t leave the Carbon Sound studio without Sanni first congratulating her on her appearance in the Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report. The two also chatted a bit more about her work and reflected on the Minnesota music scene.  


Sanni Brown: What musical projects do you have in the works?

Zora: I'm working on my newest album. I also have a few new songs coming in over the summer that are going to be fabulous, so please keep an eye out for those. I've just been in the studio, rehearsing for this April 19 show at Amsterdam Bar & Hall. 


What are some tracks people need to hear from you and why?  

Well, I gotta say “hush.” That was my most recent that just came out. “hush,” for me, is really where I'm at currently in my life. It's what I've been through, what I've dealt with, it shows off my production skills and my singing skills, and my rapping skills all in one. And I really hope that the girls and the gays can relate to it. So I would say listen to that one, for sure. I would also give some love to “THE BITCH IS BACK” which just won Record of the Year from the Loring Awards Collective. And then “FASTLANE” as well. 

What was the first song you ever wrote? 

The first song I ever wrote was called “Picture Perfect.” And that one was about me and my mom because we were homeless during my sophomore year of high school, and I had never really processed it before. I was always kind of a quiet kid. I didn't really speak up about a lot of stuff, but “Picture Perfect” was the first thing I wrote where I was like, “I can talk about what it was like to be in between houses while my mom was staying at friends’ houses.” And, the fragmented perfection that life was supposed to be that I wasn't given, and my mom wasn't given. So I ended up writing that song. Like, just to myself, I got out of the shower, opened GarageBand, just did a little something on piano. I recorded it and played everything for her. And she absolutely loved it. And she sent it to my grandma before my grandma passed like a month later — after she got to hear the first song that I ever wrote. 

Where do you live in Minnesota and what's your community here like? How does it inform your music? 

I'm in [south Minneapolis neighborhood] Longfellow. What's up, Longfellow? For me, I think it's all about kind of staying true to the people that I value within the city and people that I surround myself within the city. I always want to be respectful and also honor those who came before me. Even knowing that I'm not someone who is from from Minnesota, so I don't want to step on people's toes. I just love the Minnesota community. The music scene here is so close-knit. It's amazing. And there's just so much talent. There are so many truly kind people that are in this music scene that I just absolutely love being around. And I just hope that I can make them proud as well. 

How can we make our local scene stronger? 

[More opportunities given to Black artists.] In order for you to see artists that you want to be on these big bills, you have to put money behind them. You have to like actually support them the same way that you support other artists. So I think what I want to see more going forward is just increased POC, increased Black people like in spaces, taking up more space, and just being given a seat at the table. And several seats at the table — or creating the table. I want it to look like just so much more than what it is currently. 

Zora will perform at Amsterdam Bar & Hall on Friday, April 19, and at the Walker Art Center on Friday, April 26, at the late-night opening party for the Keith Haring exhibition.

Related:  Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report 2024: The top 11 new local artists

Minnesota Music Month Scouting Report 2024: The complete ballots

two women posing for their photo in the carbon sound studio-01
Zora joined Carbon Sound Host Sanni for an interview at Minnesota Public Radio on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.
John Kueppers
Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.