Arkansas State University’s public radio service will present the well-known Memphis club performer Ms. Zeno at the next KASU Bluesday Tuesday concert in Newport at 7 p.m., April 16 at Newport Country Club, 703 Walker Drive. Ms. Zeno’s performance— on the third Tuesday night in April—is a one-time change from the regular second Tuesday concert night.
Verlinda Zeno has performed in numerous Memphis blues clubs for over 20 years after moving to Memphis from her native Louisiana. Born into a musical family in the legendary Cane River area, Zeno says, “My family says I could sing before I could talk.” After she grew up singing with her church choir and at family jam sessions, she found a niche as a young adult in blues music. Taking the stage as “Ms. Zeno, the Louisiana Mojo Queen” she moved from club to club not knowing if a change would ever come. She became noticed for her richly emotional, expressive vocals. Ms. Zeno’s big break came unexpectedly when rhythm and blues singer Little Milton (known for “Grits Ain’t Groceries” and “We’re Gonna Make It”) invited her to sing as his opening act and backup singer. After those successful appearances, several Memphis club owners made offers to book her as the featured act. Befriended by bluesman Albert King, Ms. Zeno began to perform at the new B.B. King’s Club in Memphis after it opened in 1991. She was the lead vocalist for the B. B. King house band until she went out on her own again, managing herself. Ms. Zeno performs with the confident style of a sultry and seductive cabaret singer. Her friendly stage manner, long streaming thick hair and gold post hoop earrings have endeared her to audiences in Memphis, the Mid-South and Europe. Ms. Zeno has recorded six compact discs, including one that was produced in Verona, Italy with the Italian blues band Morblus. KASU Station Manager Mike Doyle pointed out that the April 16 date is a week later than normal for Bluesday Tuesday because Newport High School needed the Country Club for a special event that night. He said that Ms. Zeno’s performance will not be her first appearance for KASU. “She played for the former Blue Monday series in Newport when it was located at the Depot Diner Brick Room. The series moved to a different night and different location as Bluesday Tuesday in April of 2010, so Ms. Zeno’s performance marks the opening of our third year at the Newport Country Club. With the help of sponsors, we have presented this concert for over six years in Newport and it continues to be a success,” said Doyle. KASU Bluesday Tuesday concerts are underwritten by ASU-Newport, C and C Distributors and Harris Ford. Admission is free; KASU passes the hat for the band.