• Nailah Herbert

Zandrina Dunning & Stephen Washington

The Dynamic Duo

 

Zandrina Dunning and Stephen Washington are the dynamic business duo arousing people’s musical taste buds in Charleston, South Carolina, and internationally. Dunning and Washington have the experience, the talent, and the accolades to set Charleston’s music scene on fire with soul-stirring concert events.


One of their most popular events is the P.U.R.E. Concert Series which Dunning and Washington started in 2020. Dunning and Washington created a platform that was intentional about helping artists to have a creative outlet through stage performance while allowing fans to immerse themselves in the artists’ original music. Even the series name, P.U.R.E., was given strategic thought, which stands for Peace, Unity, and Revival through Entertainment.


 


 

“There is no better feeling than having an audience of people sing your music and connecting with them in that way,” Dunning said. “We want people to see the bigger picture, be themselves, and love one another.”


The P.U.R.E. Concert Series is under the umbrella of The ZD Experience company, which Dunning founded in 2013. Dunning is the Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of The ZD Experience, and Washington serves as the Creative Director.

The P.U.R.E. Concert Series is a highly-anticipated event where fans travel across the country to gather, bond, and have fun. The P.U.R.E. Concert Series starts its third season in November 2022. The lineup of artists is always thrilled to perform during the concert series because it allows them a platform to express themselves in their most authentic way: through their music.

“I always say that there is enough room for everybody. I want people to understand that there is strength in numbers. Also, I want people to realize that their only competition is themselves,” Dunning said. “We want people to be authentic in who they are and intentional about collaborating with others. We want to guide people to understand that their story can influence the next person.”


 


 

Several of Dunning’s clients have admired her transparency, honesty, and the wisdom she shares freely. She isn’t shy about telling her story of navigating the music industry, entering and exiting different personal and professional relationships, and remaining true to herself and her purpose in life.



“I formed a lot of relationships along my journey. One of which was forming a group called Mahogony Soul in 2017. Our intention wasn’t to make an album but to make music,” Dunning said. “We [Mahogony Soul] ended up doing a tribute show to girl groups from the 1970s to today. Although we broke up, I wanted to do more. I knew that live shows gave people a reason to enjoy themselves.”


Dunning acted as both the producer and performer in the tribute shows, allowing her to take a step further and gather other artists to host more tribute shows.


“In 2019, I produced a concert tribute to Aretha Franklin, starring an artist called Black Diamond, who also starred in the Anita Baker tribute in 2021. Also, in 2021, I produced a tribute to Tina Turner, starring an artist named LaFaye. Earlier this year, Mario Desaussure starred in the Luther Vandross tribute that I produced as well,” Dunning said. “All those artists I worked with said that the tribute shows were a highlight of their careers.”


The ZD Experience aims to serve musicians in every facet of their artistry. The ZD Experience provides artist-specific packages to help an artist based on their needed services. Whether an artist needs a place to create music, help writing songs, stage performance tips, or guidance in marketing their talents, The ZD Experience can provide high-level direction and solutions.


Dunning and Washington, both Charleston-based musicians, have successful music careers and are intentional about uplifting other artists and spreading their original works to inspire the masses.


Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Dunning is a vocalist with more than 20 years of experience in the music industry. As a young girl, she moved to South Carolina and planted her roots in Charleston. However, she couldn’t resist the calling that music had in her life and went on to attend South Carolina State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Industry and Vocal Music in 2004.


While operating a successful business, Dunning is also a radio host and producer of The ZD Experience radio show on 96.3 FM’s Ohm Radio, a community-oriented, non-profit radio station. On her radio show, she has candid conversations while playing records that empower the mind, body, and soul of every individual who listens.



It’s no coincidence that Washington also has a radio show that’s gaining traction throughout Charleston called Steve’s House, where he has conversed with Grammy award-winning artists, politicians, and servant leaders of the Charleston communities. So naturally, as a music producer, becoming a radio host and producing his own show was an effortless feat.


Charleston, South Carolina native Washington has an extensive background in music, starting in his father’s church. As a son of a musically-gifted preacher, he started playing with instruments at five years old, specifically the drums. He learned to play the piano by age 11 and became a regular pianist for his church choir.


“Quentin E. Baxter, a Grammy Award-winning musician, pushed me to pursue music. When I was about 14 years old, he would let me watch him play on stage. This experience planted a seed inside me, and opportunities presented themselves,” Washington said. “Quiana Parler is another huge influence in my life. She also won a Grammy alongside Quentin E. Baxter. Quiana gave me my first on-stage opportunity in 2007, and we’ve been performing together ever since. She’s my big sister! She taught me a lot about performing and the music business.”


Washington’s love for music started at a young age and has cultivated into a career that led him to travel worldwide, including to Spain and Africa.


“Once you get outside of Charleston, things start changing dramatically. When you travel anywhere, you learn about the culture and how people move. Even from a God perspective, we feel like we got it all figured out, but once you step outside your comfort zone, it's a different world,” Washington said. “Africa was life-changing for me. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I always tell Black people if you get a chance to go somewhere in Africa or Ethiopia, then just go. Don’t miss the opportunity. I spent about four months in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We got a chance to go to different places and touch the people in the community.”


Eventually, Washington found his way back home and connected with Dunning to help other artists find their footing in the music industry. Dunning and Washington have partnered with the elite branding agency, NobleSol Art Group, to help build out their powerhouse vision.


“Stephen and I knew what was missing was a space to call our home. So when we met with Okeeba, his vision matched perfectly with ours,” Dunning said. “We wanted a creative space for artists of all kinds to have an outlet.”


The partnership between NobleSol Art Group and The ZD Experience will help artists throughout Charleston, South Carolina, succeed beyond their wildest imaginations.