YahZarah (born Dana Nicole Williams) is a classically trained R&B singer-songwriter based out of Durham, North Carolina. Her stage name, a dedication to her grandmothers Yah and Sarah, is Arabic for “Queen Mother is the brightest star” Born and raised in Washington, DC, YahZarah started singing at the age of seven in her church choir. Her love for performance began after winning a youth talent search at the Kennedy Center at age ten.
After years of honing her talent in churches, at talent shows and in performance at local concerts, she entered high school at the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts of Washington, DC. Upon graduation in 1997, she was accepted to North Carolina Central University in Durham on a full scholarship to the school’s jazz program.
In 1998, she left NC Central and hit the road, performing as a background singer for Erykah Badu. While touring, YahZarah contributed background vocals and vocal arrangements to Badu’s platinum selling Mama’s Gun LP. YahZarah was also featured in the video for the album’s lead single, “Bag Lady”.
In 2001, she left the Mama’s Gun tour and released Hear Me, her debut album Hear Me (KEO Music). A follow up LP, 2003’s Blackstar, was issued on the Three Keys label and reached #44 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, an impressive feat as an independent artist.
2004 found YahZarah reuniting with longtime collaborator and fellow NC Central classmate, Phonte Coleman, best known as a founding member of Little Brother. The following year she appeared on Little Brother’s Minstrel Show LP (Atlantic Records), and was featured on the debut single “Lovin It.” YahZarah was featured on the lead single “Sincere” off The Foreign Exchange’s debut album, Connected. She later contributed two vocal performances to The Foreign Exchange’s GRAMMY®-nominated Leave It All Behind LP in 2008. That same year, she released an EP of new material entitled The Prelude. To support the EP, she toured nationally
and internationally with artists such as Chaka Khan, Floetry, The Roots, Raphael Saadiq, R. Kelly, Goapele, Raheem DeVaughn, Bilal Oliver, and Eric Roberson, performing to sold-out audiences at the Blue Note, LA Temple Bar, The Roxy, SOB’s and a host of other amazing venues. Anthony Hamilton invited YahZarah to join him as his special guest, opening seven dates on his Playing It Cool Tour at the House of Blues.
In 2010, YahZarah was a featured artist on 2010’s Hennessy Artistry Tour, which featured Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, Kid Sister, Kanye West , Jay-Z, and Ron Isley among others; YahZarah performed selections from her catalog backed by the Legendary Roots Crew and Q-Tip, then stepped out solo, headlining her Love -Vs- Lust Tour in [number written out here] major markets including New York City and Atlanta.
YahZarah blessed vacationing music lovers as a featured artist on the [year here] Capitol Jazz Cruise, performing alongside jazz and soul veterans Lalah Hathaway, Gorge Duke and Ledisi. She then took her show to the UK for the first time during the summer of [year here], performing to a sold-out, standing room only crowd in London. The Ballad of Saint James EP also earned 6 nominations on the [year here] Grammy® preliminary ballot. YahZarah is the recipient of the Soul Tracks Reader’s Choice Award, and was also crowned Breakout Artist of 2011 by JET Magazine.
Currently touring as a member of ledendary Grammy winner Lenny Kravitz's band.
And preparing her next project "The Body Aquatic" for release.