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
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
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.