Zsela Sings Moody Ballads for the Fashion and Art Set


Zsela Thompson

Age: 24

Hometown: Brooklyn

Now Lives: Cat-sitting at a friend’s one-bedroom apartment in Chinatown, after a three-month stint in Los Angeles.

Claim to Fame: Zsela Thompson is a rising singer and songwriter of melodic, folksy ballads popular with the bicoastal art and fashion scene. She is still a relative unknown, but her songbird voice and breezy downtown style have won her high praise.

Vogue described her voice as “transfixing,” likening her to Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading, and featured her as a “bold talent remaking fashion,” in a feature photographed by Ryan McGinley.

Big Break: Ms. Thompson grew up singing, surrounded by an artistic family. (Her father is Marc Anthony Thompson, a funk and rock musician known as Chocolate Genius. Her mother, Kate Sterlin, is a fine art photographer, and her half sister is Tessa Thompson, an actress.)

She got serious about her art after a friend sent her demos to Joanna Cohen, a music manager in New York who specializes in emerging talent. “I was in a dark place and had all these demos and didn’t know what to do with them,” Ms. Thompson said. One of the first people Ms. Cohen introduced her to was Daniel Aged, a musician and producer, who soon became a close friend and collaborator.



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