When Blues Singer Z.Z. Hill signed with the southern soul label Malaco in 1980, he also stepped into the role of a modern (back then) savior of the blues. Since blues supposedly no longer sold, everyone was shocked in 1982 when Hill's second album, “Down Home Blues,” sold 500,000 copies. It was the most successful blues album ever, revealing a core audience for quality blues records, revitalizing the appeal. It also became an anthem for R&B singers struggling against disco and the emergence of rap. The Blues was coming back from back down South, where it all started.
Born in Naples, Texas, Arzell Hill spent much of his childhood singing in the church. After deciding he would be a performer, Arzell became Z. Z. for recording purposes. Several artists influenced him, his favorite being the late Sam Cooke. Z. Z. started his singing career with a group by the name of The Spiritual Five.