Zee brings a U.K. flavor to New Jersey

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One of the best things about talent from New Jersey is that they only need one name; Frank, Bruce, and now, Zee. In the ongoing series of articles on up and  coming New Jersey talent, “In The Cookie Jar” features Andrez “Zee” Fredericks. He has jumped across the pond to create quite a splash on the New Jersey music scene. From Asbury Park all the way to New Hope, PA, Zee is performing for packed houses and an ever expanding fan base. Here, Entertainment Editor Cookie talks to Zee about his musical style, how it feels to be compared to such superstars as Usher and his “American Idol” experience.

 

Zee, you’re part of an ongoing series of pieces by me featuring some local & amazing artists. Tell me how you got started in the music industry?

Zee at the micI pretty much popped out singing. I have 3 younger sisters and the 4 of us were a singing group before we could all form complete sentences. Imagine early footage of Destiny’s Child, but with one of the members a boy; that was us! Only we didn’t love performing nearly as much as Beyonce at that age, were it at family reunions, weddings or dinner parties, we’d be off playing and then we’d hear “Kids! Come down here”! We’d just groan, knowing we were being summoned like the Von Trapp children to carry on for the guests.

I’ve been lucky enough to hear you many times in person, you’re literally a powerhouse performer, both vocally & in terms of stage presence. Many would compare you to Craig David, Usher etc. Who do you get most of your inspiration from?

Stevie Wonder without question! He’s genius and some of his lesser known works, like a record called “Sunshine In Their Eyes” have changed my whole perception of what writing music is; the younger guys in the game all learned from him. I would be leary of patterning myself after the younger singers when it was the legends that paved the way. but yes, I do get a lot of Craig David, Usher and Chris Brown comparisons. Must be cause I dance so well!

Tell me a little about your background. You’re originally from “across the pond”. How does the gay community differ here in New Jersey as opposed to back home?

I think a lot of people may disagree, but if you’ve spent real time in London you’d know it’s really very open and accepting of gays within the gay subcultures, and very accepting of the straight culture and vice versa. New York isn’t as open toward certain communities within the gay community, and in New Jersey I’ve experienced that at times. Not in every case mind you, it’s largely who you hang out with and who you know that define you, but I will tell you this: Jersey Shore gays know how to party in the summertime.

You’ve become somewhat of a local celebrity, especially with the summer months and plenty of spaces in NJ to perform! Where are some of your most favorite places to perform in the Garden State?

Local celebrity? …  I don’t even know how to take that. (blushing.) Of course, I love performing at Tim Mcloone’s Supper Club on the Asbury Park boardwalk. It’s such a classy space. very reminiscent of new York supper and jazz clubs; so vibey and the crowd is always with you. I also love Chico’s House of Jazz on Wesley Lake. It’s the newest real “jazz club” to the area, and it is a proper show space. The lighting, the crowd, the smokey speakeasy feel you get is just brilliant! Asbury Blues is getting some buzz as well. I need to look into infiltrating that place as well.

Your concerts at McLoone’s  in Asbury Park with Bob Egan have become quite the event; you need to arrive quite early, as the shows are literally standing-room only. How does it feel to have such a following here?

It’s humbling, as I’m sort of the new guy in town. There have been singers and performers who’ve spent their entire lives here hoping to make a name for themselves and I’ve only been coming to new jersey for the past few summers. With people like Bob on my team, I’ve been exposed to such a fantastic potpourri of fans and have had the opportunity of headlining amazing venues. It speaks of the love of music that Asbury Park has. It’s exciting to be a part of this “live music” sort of resurrection that’s happening hand-in-hand with the community’s revival.

You also tried out for “American Idol” correct? What was the experience like?

 Twice actually; never made it to the live shows either time. The process is a lot longer than you see on telly. There are actually about 4 rounds of auditions before you’re even televised or see the judges. I guess they want to weed out the mediocre singers, and sort out the really good and the really not-good singers for entertainment purposes.

The first time my 3 younger sisters and I auditioned together in Austin for Season 2. The show was still very new in the US, so the queue was only a couple of hundred auditioners. We made it to Randy, Paula, and Simon. That was where it ended, the judges said we weren’t ready yet. Years later, I was visiting my nephews in Seattle to record some new music, and the AI auditions happened to be in town at the same time; of course, they urged me to try again, so I did. This time, I made it to Hollywood!  I survived “Hell Week” only to come to the last day and discover that Sanjaya Malakar made it to the live show while I was on my way back to New York! If you watched Season 6, you know Sanjaya should’ve never made it to the live show, let alone the Top 7! Wow, I sound proper gutted don’t I? (laughs) Sorry, brief moment of bitterness. I’ve read he’s Off-Broadway starring in “Freckleface Strawberry.” I wish him the best in his career. Not really, but I should say so cos it’s good Karma. (laughs again)

 Ok, time to dream-who would you absolutely adore to work with?

That’s a tough one! I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question! A little known fact, I’m good friends with new-to-the-States vocal powerhouse Jessie J who’s also from “across the pond.” I’d love to collaborate with her! The last time we sang together was at a karaoke bar in Brixton; I’m really chucked for her success! She’s a beast! I also adore Robin Thicke; he’s such a classic crooner with a velvet voice! Matt Morrison is brilliant! I love his swag! Andre 3000 of Outkast is such a genius, I could only imagine wot we could create together, and Janelle Monae is giving me musical life right now!

What’s next for Zee?

I recently had the privilege of performing on The Wendy Williams Show for Cee-Lo Green in a “Wendy” version of NBC’s The Voice! I’ll be appearing this fall on the X-Factor (fingers crossed) and in many non-television shows at jazz and blues spots in New York on the Jersey Shore. Also at the mo, I’m recording 2 albums simultaneously. One caters to my “seasoned” fans who appreciate quality music, the old American songbook, great jazz, and sweet bluesy melodies. The other is an outright party!

A fun album full of catchy fun dance music, great production and fun choruses; stuff that would have a club jumping! I’m chuffed about it. I just wanted to be sure I had something for everyone who enjoys my voice. I feel this gift is a blessing from God that I’m only borrowing, so it’s not my place to keep it close. I should be sharing it whenever and wherever i go on this journey! I try not to sound vain when I say this, but voices don’t just drop out of the sky every day; those of us who have been given gifts should use them with humility-and share them often! I also am planning to write a tell-all musical about my Idol experiences called “Sanjaya Who?” but don’t print that! haha. okay, maybe print that.

One of the best things about talent from New Jersey is that they only need one name; Frank, Bruce, and now, Zee. In the ongoing series of articles on up and  coming New Jersey talent, “In The Cookie Jar” features Andrez “Zee” Fredericks. He has jumped across the pond to create quite a splash on the New Jersey music scene. From Asbury Park all the way to New Hope, PA, Zee is performing for packed houses and an ever expanding fan base. Here, Entertainment Editor Cookie talks to Zee about his musical style, how it feels to be compared to such superstars as Usher and his “American Idol” experience.