Lady Zen: acclaimed Jazz vocalist at Oasis

  • by Laura Moreno
  • Tuesday May 17, 2022
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Lady Zen
Lady Zen

Lady Zen is one of the best singers you may never have heard of. With operatic training and a natural feel for jazz, country music and the fusion of all three, she has been called a "shockingly good" singer. If you've never seen her in person or even if you have, she will be performing in San Francisco at the Oasis on May 25 at 7pm.

Incredible vocal talent like hers is not easy to come by. If you love k.d. lang, you'll love Lady Zen. She sings with a raw power and strength that also dares to be vulnerable. By the age of 12 she was already a master showman and won competition after competition.

As often as she can, she makes a big splash performing in Mexico. This year, she performed with Tony Bennett in Puerto Vallarta and she periodically plays the artists' colony San Miguel de Allende in Mexico where she has lived since 2016.

Her life story is equally incredible and was recently turned into a feature-length motion picture. While here in the Bay Area, she will also be presenting the award-winning film about her life.

Born Alzenira Quezada in Brazil, she has no idea how she ended up being adopted by American missionaries even though her parents were still both living. After being given a new name by her adopted family, she eventually went back to her own Brazilian name, from which she began calling herself simply Zen.

Growing up she was told absolutely nothing about her biological heritage. In fact, her mother was a South American Amazonian Indian, and her father was half black from Bahia on the northeastern seacoast, the birthplace of samba.

Unbelievably, her conservative missionary Christian parents actually kicked their adopted daughter out of the house when she came out as gay.

"I didn't even have words for how I was feeling then," Lady Zen said. "My parents tried to pray the gay demon out of me."

Many difficulties followed on the long road to becoming Lady Zen, including a stint as a caterer and top chef. But the bottom line in retrospect was that in their ignorance her adopted family gave her an opportunity to go from victory to victory, and provided plenty of great material for the film about a multi-talented woman who found herself and is unafraid to share who she is with enraptured audiences.

Lady Zen performs at Oasis, May 25, 7pm. 298 11th St. $20-$30.

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