There are two types of personalities – people who function best in stable, calm conditions and those who thrive on spontaneity and exploring the unknown. Linnzi Zaorski is the latter kind. She moved to New Orleans from Alexandria at 17 to look for something “wild and crazy”.
One serendipitous evening in 2001, Zaorski went out to see a friend’s band. Little did she know that she would be discovering a hidden talent that night.
“After the show, I ended up sitting in with the band, singing with them,” she said. “I’d never done anything like that before.”
She calls it “an accidental career choice.” A couple months later Zaorski became that band’s singer, performing under the name of the New Orleans Jazz Vipers.
Settled in the sleepless Frenchman Street, she sang nights away with the Jazz Vipers for four years.
Then, Katrina hit. Her home became unlivable, forcing her to evacuate across the country. Despite the devastation, Zaorski welcomed the opportunity to shake things up a bit.
“I’ve been travelling since Katrina, off and on,” she said. “I was trying to find a way to not be in the music scene all the time. I didn’t want to be consumed.”
Zaorski went solo. She looked to rebuild in a new location, while waiting to recover her lost home. Temporarily in New York, she didn’t let her voice get cold. Andrei Codrescu -- a friend, author and former English professor at LSU -- invited Zaorski to perform at a book signing event.
“A few months after Katrina, [Codrescu] asked me to sing ‘Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,’” she told. “As soon as I started singing it, I started crying on stage.”
Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. Zaorski took a few more extended trips then returned home. She has now nestled herself in a home on the North Shore and commutes to work a few times a week.
“I found the perfect balance -- 2 acres, a creek and my dogs. I wear rubber boots everywhere and jeans and plaid shirts. A couple hours later, I put on a dress and stilettos and make up,” she said with a chuckle. “I go from Mary Ann to Ginger as I cross the Causeway. It’s such an exciting thing.”
Zaorski has self-released four records and a Christmas album since 2002. Zaorski’s voice is now accompanied by Matt Johnson (guitar), Robert Snow (bass), Charlie Fardella (trumpet), Rob Wagner (saxophone) and Matt Rhody (violin) on their newest release, “Naughty Sweetie.” In unison, the harmonies teleport the listener to a different time -- one of grand balls with elegant chandeliers illuminating stylishly dressed couples.
This summer, Zaorski is clearing a path for another record, one with special guests and collaborations. Sophie Lee, a New Orleans jazz singer and co-owner of restaurant/bar/jazz club Three Muses, is one of the artists to be featured on the album.
“Sophie is like family, we’re really close, and we do similar things,” Zaorski said. “Her new album is fantastic! She’s a really strong songwriter. The two originals on there are the best, in my opinion.”
Linnzi Zaorski plays d.b.a on March 8, Maison on March 10, Bombay Club on March 15 and the new Hard Rock Café on Bourbon Street starting in April. She’s also performing at the Abita Springs Opry next weekend, March 16 and 17.