The singer has become synonymous with self-love and being your own hype-man, but there’s so much more to her than just her music. Let’s take a look at her life and how she became the shining star she is today.
What Makes Lizzo Different
Lizzo’s unapologetic confidence is rare for plus-seized women of color. From her lyrics to her social media presence, she boldly accepts herself and invites others to do the same.
While there are others who are just as bold, Lizzo’s confidence differs from other artists because it doesn’t depend on asserting that she’s better than anyone else. She radiates nothing but good vibes and is the only one who is genuinely uplifting others along the way.
Lizzo's Real Name
Born on April 27, 1988, she was named Melissa Vivianne Jefferson before she became the force of nature we all know as Lizzo.
She acquired the nickname Lizzo when she was 14. Apparently, “Lizzo” combined Melissa’s nickname “Lissa” and inspiration from Jay-Z's song "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"
Little Melissa's Musical Interest
Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, little Melissa listened mainly to gospel music, and she certainly showed an early aptitude for music. But Lizzo’s musical prowess doesn’t stop there.
The Jeffersons moved to Texas when Melissa was ten and settled in Houston, which is where she began her training as a classical flutist by prominent music teacher Claudia Momen.
When Lizzo was 14, she already knew she wanted to pursue a career in music. The young artist began rapping while she was a student at Alief Elsik High School in Houston.
Together with a few of her friends, she assembled a musical group named the Cornrow Clique.
While in Marching Band
Lizzo’s penchant for music is much broader than just rapping and singing, though. After high school, she continued her studies at the University of Houston, majoring in classical music and specializing in flute performance.
While in University, she also performed as a member of the Cougar marching band, with her dad being her biggest fan.
A Self-Professed Nerd
Lizzo has always been open and honest about her struggles growing up, particularly in high school. In addition to playing in the marching band, she also really liked anime and adorned her bedroom with "Sailor Moon" posters and trinkets. This made her stand out as an easy target for bullies.
But luckily, Lizzo didn't let that define her and now she's proud of all her 'dorky' quirks and idiosyncrasies.
How Her Music Career Started
Unfortunately, Lizzo's father passed away unexpectedly, which is when she decided to move to Denver and take a 3-month vow of silence, only singing when she'd go on walks.
Thereafter, Lizzo moved to Minneapolis, where she lived out of her car for a year. During this time she was hustling to make a name for herself in the music industry. While living there, she performed in small clubs with other bands, like the electro soul-pop duo the Larva Ink.
Boundaries Don't Stop Her
Lizzo maintained a passion for music at a young age, starting around 2010, Lizzo was a founding member of many independent hip-hop bands like Ellypseas, Grrrl Party, The Clerb, The Chalice, and Absynthe.
While it's been a hot minute since she started, the singer has kept her foot in the door with a diverse sound. Lizzo has ventured beyond genre boundaries. R&B fused with Funk-pop? Check. Hip-Hop neo-soul? Double-check.
It was around 2013 when Lizzo formed a three-piece all-female R&B/rap band with Sophia Eris and Claire de Lune called The Chalice. In 2012, her band released their first-ever album. It was titled "We Are the Chalice," which was quite successful locally.
Later on, the band would work with Prince on his album, Plectrumelectrum. More on that is coming soon.
Lizzo's Debut Album
Lizzo's solo hip-hop-focused debut album titled "Lizzobangers", was released the following year. Her album was recognized immediately for its originality, with an upbeat vibe and a whole lot of soul.
Music reviewers gave her album 4 stars out of 5, remarking on Lizzo's joyful tunes and lethally pointed rhymes.
The Queen of Self-Love
Lizzo has a gift for turning phrases into lyrics that are authentic and unapologetic. Her songs have the type of emotional directness that can be inspiring and has cemented Lizzo as her generation's answer to Missy Elliott.
While her breakthrough has been coupled with movements that support and promote body positivity, she also challenges those movements to be more than just opportunistic trends that are eventually replaced with something else.
Since her rise to stardom, Lizzo has been one of our most visible advocates for body positivity and self-love, but she’s hesitant to label herself as such. As she’s remarked on numerous occasions, accepting herself and embracing all parts of who she is isn’t just a marketing campaign.
Promoting a body-positive attitude while still maintaining some distance from the movement has confirmed Lizzo as an authentic voice in this particular social trend.
Barely taking a breather following the release of her debut album in 2013, Lizzo immediately began working on new music. It was also around this time that she participated in a project called "What's Underneath."
Lizzo bravely showcased that self-acceptance is embracing yourself as a continual work in progress. With beautiful honesty, Lizzo openly talked through her struggles about being a bigger girl and coming to terms with her natural hair.
It seems her involvement with the "What’s Underneath Project" really struck a chord as soon after she wrote the tender song "My Skin." The song is emotional and received rave reviews following its release.
Lizzo even described this song as her second album's “thesis statement.” It was this ambitious fusion of R&B, soul, and body-positive messages which attracted the attention of Atlantic Records.
Working With Prince
At this point, Lizzo was still relatively unknown. Still, her music was picking up steam and she was even featured on the song "Boy Trouble" on Prince's album Plectrumelectrum, alongside her bandmates from The Chalice.
Later in that same year, Lizzo appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman as the musical guest.
Lizzo's First Major EP
Being the triple-threat (lyricist, flutist, singer) that she is, Lizzo still stayed true to her flute, blasting uplifting notes while twerking her heart out as she performed on stage.
With the release of his first major-label EP, Coconut Oil, Lizzo found herself fully immersed in the creative process as she co-wrote every song.
MTV's Hostess With the Mostest
While staying true to her message of self-love and body positivity, Lizzo made diversity the focus of her music. The backup crew of her dancing group consisted mostly of women with curves. This dancing group is unlike any other, and Lizzo calls them The Big Grrrls.
MTV took notice of Lizzo at this point and invited her to host MTV’s Wonderland, which showcased her talent for freestyle as she rapped for a live performance.
'RuPaul's Drag Race'
Lizzo's decision to celebrate all versions of herself, even the so-called dorky ones, has actually made her more well-known and famous as people just loved her confidence.
Obviously, this led her to 'RuPaul's Drag Race' where she appeared as a guest judge. In addition to facing Lizzo as a judge, two queens were required to do a lip-sync performance to Lizzo’s song “Good As Hell”.
Lizzo and Her Favorite Instrument
An instrument with such an interesting history as Lizzo’s deserves a name of its own, and Lizzo knows it. She revealed that she has already affectionately been calling her flute Sasha Flute.
Her fabulous flute even has its own Instagram account, boasting over 300 thousand followers.
Things were really looking up for Lizzo at this point. It was 2019 and for the first time, Lizzo got cast in the "Ugly Dolls" animated feature, where she voiced the perfect doll, Lydia.
The movie itself didn't earn as much as expected, but it sure helped propel Lizzo into the burgeoning star that we know her as today.
Lizzo Stars Alongside J.Lo
That same year Lizzo appeared in the movie "Hustlers" alongside fellow female rapper, Cardi B, and leading lady Jennifer Lopez. This was a blockbuster movie and for an up and coming star like Lizzo, another foot in the door.
In the movie she plays one of the dancers in a club in New York, where she rocked the few scenes she appeared in, and so did her flute.
Truth Hurts Becomes a Hit!
Anyone can see that Lizzo's musical journey is authentic and joyfully infectious. Just a few years after her humble beginnings spending a year living in a car, 'Truth Hurts' became Lizzo's first number-one single on the Billboard charts.
Surprisingly though, the single was first released two years before, in 2017 but only rose to prominence in 2019.
Having Second Thoughts
Unbeknownst to many, with “Truth Hurts” taking its sweet time becoming a hit, it made Lizzo rethink her career path. She wondered if she was doing the right thing and even considered leaving the music business behind.
Luckily though, she decided to continue her musical journey, and two years later her song finally received the acclaim it deserved.
Many people don't know how difficult a time she had before "Truth Hurts" became the hit that it did. Lizzo revealed in an interview that she decided to start going to therapy back in 2018, which was decidedly scary for her.
She admitted her uneasiness saying, "going to a therapist and being vulnerable with a totally new person that I didn't know and then opening up, gave me the courage to be more vulnerable as a vocalist."
Making Fashion History
If there is one thing that we know about Lizzo, it’s that she definitely has star quality, and 2018 only confirmed that. She made fashion history when she wore the first-ever plus-sized outfit for the Future of Fashion runway show.
Her rainbow bodysuit and the matching sweater were designed by Grace Insogna, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. Lizzo would go on to perform at the Pride Island event in this colorful outfit.
Gotta Blame It on Her Juice
Since Lizzo was becoming a well-known celebrity, the release of her lead single "Juice", sent shockwaves through the charts. This single comes from her third studio album and will forever live in our minds rent-free.
The song is a self-love anthem with a very funky and soul-inspired beat. The very next month, Lizzo announced the title of the album, "Cuz I Love You," which was to be released a few months later in April 2019.
"Cuz I Love You"
With the release of her third album, "Cuz I Love You" Lizzo made it clear that she had no intention of slowing down and that her music was only getting better. The album also features the iconic Missy Elliott and Gucci Mane.
Everyone fell in love with the 11-track record, which proves to be an unusually intimate tribute from Lizzo, with most of the lyrical content being drawn directly from her personal experiences.
She Got the Most Nominations
Soon enough, Lizzo's music came to dominate playlists and when the list of nominations was announced for the 2020 Grammy Awards, Lizzo received more nominations than any other nominee for that year.
Of course, this was no surprise, Lizzo was everywhere, and for good reason. With a total of eight nominations, she outshined other stars like Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande.
Lizzo at the Grammy Awards
Her songs effortlessly sneaked in an ambitiously uplifting vibe that so many contemporary songwriters are desperately chasing. So much so that the Grammys in 2020, basically belonged to Lizzo.
If being the most-nominated artist for 2020 didn't make that clear, her performance at the awards definitely did. Lizzo also opened the awards ceremony with a high-energy medley performance with two of her hits "Truth Hurts" and "Cuz I Love You," with the latter being performed with an orchestra.
Even Elmo and his friends from Sesame street are fans of our favorite flutist. With all the craze surrounding “Truth Hurts,” Cookie Monster tweeted his own take on her lyrics saying, “turns out me 100% cookies.”
Lizzo was so overjoyed that she even re-tweeted the Cookie Monster's post with extended verses for a mash-up with Cookie Monster. She even made a remix of her song featuring the Cookie Monster.
Lizzo Becomes Vegan
Part of Lizzo's success comes from her commitment to positivity and her authenticity on social media. These set her apart from other celebrities who only post picture-perfect versions of their lives. After being a vegetarian for seven years, Lizzo became vegan in April 2020.
She often shares posts on her social media accounts of her vegan meals, promoting the lifestyle and giving meal ideas to her audience.
Being an Advocate
Lizzo's widely cast net of inclusivity isn't just about size and color — ever since the beginning of her career, she's been advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. Lizzo has performed at Pride festivals around the country, from New York to Indianapolis and all the way to Sacramento.
But she has also revealed that playing those festivals is about more than being a positive ally for the LGBTQ+ community as she herself has said she doesn't conform to the binary gender standards.
She Just Keeps Going
When performing in front of a crowd, there's very little that will stop the music unless it's been cut. This is exactly what happened when Lizzo's backtrack vanished during her show at Coachella.
But she was quick to carry on, as she told the crowd, “This is my first time playing Coachella, so ain’t nothing gonna mess this up!”
Not Just a Desk Job
Lizzo’s concert with Tiny Desk, complete with a four-piece band and a signature flute solo, garnered viral attention. With over 12 million views so far, we're not sure how that tiny desk will ever recover.
Lizzo always knows how to put on a good show and we love her for that. Honestly, how does anyone not fall in love with her?
Like many plus-sized, confident women, Lizzo has been described as brave. But Lizzo objected to this backhanded compliment as she feels she is just being herself and why does that mean she's braver than anyone else?
While it does take guts to be truly authentic in an increasingly materialistic and superficial world, Lizzo does it flawlessly and we should all take a page from her book.
Lizzo Goes Blonde
Before becoming a rising star, Lizzo appeared in a reality show called "Made in Chelsea." The crew and cast came to film in New York and on one of their tours, Lizzo appeared on the show singing a cover song by Blondie.
In the video, we see her sporting beautiful blonde curls. This was way back in 2014 and it was a good few years before her meteoric rise to stardom.
Hanging With Harry Styles
Another unexpected but not at all surprising fan of Lizzo's is Harry Styles. After the English singer covered one of Lizzo's most well-known tracks, 'Juice', Harry Styles went on to perform the song alongside Lizzo just two months later.
Being the gracious woman that she is, Lizzo then returned the favor, covering his song 'Adore You.' Ever since then, these two have been collaborating together on different projects and even performed at Coachella together.
Be Your Own Cheerleader
Despite Lizzo's undeniable success in the entertainment industry, her greatest achievement is offering us a viable blueprint for how we can celebrate ourselves.
As a musical artist, her tenacity and resolve after years of struggle offer proof of how profound believing in yourself can be when others don’t. It's a testament that you are your own best cheerleader.
Lizzo's Love Interest
We can thank Lizzo for a lot of things — possibly the most notable thing is her advocacy for self-love. But with all that love going around, we can't keep ourselves from wondering, who's Lizzo's love interest (besides herself, of course)?
Various news reports have revealed that she's been seen walking hand in hand with a mystery man. We still don't know who he is or anything about him, but Lizzo remains intent on keeping his identity a secret.
While her devotees have been drawn to the upbeat themes in her music, they've largely connected to her because of her energetic live performances where she's been known to twerk like it's nobody's business.
There tends to be a moment in every one of her concerts where she gives an impromptu speech of acceptance in between songs. If you are still waiting to see Lizzo perform, just know she's going to bring the energy. And, yes, she'll be playing her flute!
So Much to Learn From Lizzo
We can all learn a lot from Lizzo and her unabashed self-love that inspires us to be ourselves and stop conforming to others' standards. Whether you know the words to her songs or not, her funky sounds of neo-soul music will be sure to get you grooving.
But at her core, Lizzo continues to remain true to herself, regardless of the current trends. She has remarked that she doesn't think of herself as an activist but rather likes to think of her own sentiments as exactly that — her own. And when all the dust has settled, she's going to still be doing this.
Saturday Night Live
More recently, Lizzo hosted Saturday Night Live and performed as the musical guest on the show. While pulling double duty, she also played her flute during her performance of her newly released song, “About Damn Time.”
The episode’s lineup of sketches gave Lizzo ample opportunity to showcase her flair for comedy. It soon became clear that her appearance and performance were a highlight of the season.
What's the Deal With Chris Evans?
It's no secret that Lizzo has been crushing on Chris Evans since their interactions on Twitter when Chris Evans retweeted Lizzo's post and she responded with "Wow, marry me."
Obviously, she meant it as a joke, but you know what they say, "many a truth is said in jest." Well, it's just gotten spicier since then. There were rumors about them dating but those were quickly put to bed. For now, they're just friends who have a sweet camaraderie on social media.
Lizzo's Home in Los Angeles
Lizzo has done a great job of keeping details of her house in Los Angeles a secret, but in 2020 she did give Vogue a tour of her abode when she invited Joe Sabia for an interview.
Her home is surprisingly down to earth. This totally makes sense because this has to be the most authentic Vogue interview we've seen so far.
Black Hair, Don't Care
While Lizzo embraces diversity in all things, there is one thing she does to honor her heritage. In 2019, she decided to make a point by only wearing black hair.
She announced this in a magazine interview and added how important she thinks it is for black women to represent themselves in a world that often leaves them feeling insecure.
How Much Does Lizzo Make?
Even with finding commercial success in only the past few years, Lizzo has managed to build an empire for herself. As of 2022, the artist has reportedly amassed a net worth of $12 million!
With being a star like Lizzo, however, we're pretty sure that number is bound to soar if she continues working as she does now!
Lizzo's Very Own Documentary
It's official people, and it's about time! Lizzo is getting her very own documentary and honestly, we can't wait to see it. This yet-to-be-titled project will showcase an intimate portrait of Lizzo as she encounters a truly unusual type of fame.
This documentary will also present her trailblazing journey of self-love, with rare and intimate moments that shaped her sharp rise to international stardom. The project is set to arrive around the fall of 2022.
A Perfect Score
We're not sure if you know about the Elle magazine's youtube challenge called ‘Song Association Challenge,’ but basically, it's where singers have 15 seconds to find the right song to sing with only a random keyword.
It's much harder than it sounds and only a few celebs have managed to get a perfect score, with Lizzo being one of them. After her win, she went on to say, “Is it even a challenge?”
Lizzo once had an interview with Glamour magazine and shared that she had over 600 selfies on her phone. Of course, the queen of self-love knows how to rock a camera but even she was surprised when she saw the amount.
Her most memorable selfie was taken during the shooting of the music video for "Phone." Why? Well, there was one outfit that Lizzo found very intimidating. But, she soon realized that she actually rocked that outfit, and honestly, it's not in her DNA to not rock it.