Melissa “Lizzo” Viviane Jefferson is a confident, body-positive American musician. Her 2017 song “Truth Hurts” sky-rocketed into the spotlight in 2019 due to a combination of being featured in Netflix’s Someone Great film, a TikTok trend that highjacked her opening lyrics, and the release of her third studio album, Cuz I Love You.
Because she’s about to become a household name, I dug deep to find out everything I could about this incredible talent.
1. She’s a Detroit native, but her family moved to Houston when she was ten
“Houston is very hip hop, very rap,” she describes in an interview with Q. “You go to Houston and everything is freestyle rap. You’re on a bus, they’re banging on the wall on the bus and freestylin’, you go to lunch in the cafeteria and they’re bangin’ on the cafeteria table, freestylin’.”
During those formative years, Lizzo reveals, “I kind of fell in love with it because I realized I was good with the words. I was like, ‘Oh, I can freestyle!’”
2. She was a band geek
“I was in marching band from eighth grade all the way up until college,” Lizzo disclosed to NPR. “I was a piccolo player. I was the baddest piccolo in the land, ’cause I got big lungs. And I was really determined.” She would rent the flute and practice non-stop, citing flute legend James Galway as the standard she aspires to.
3. Even though her song “Truth Hurts” was released in 2017, it became the second-most requested song over the course of one week in 2019 on Control Play
Control Play provides music video playlists to restaurants and bars across North America, and the #Top5MostRequestedSongs list has never been disrupted this way before! “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus has been comfortably saddled at the top of the list for seven weeks. Will she unhorse them? Only time will tell!
4. She used to freestyle competitively on the radio
“I would call into this morning show and try to get through so I could do the freestyle.” She said that competitors could win tickets, “but it was really just exhilarating having to freestyle on the spot like that and knowing that thousands of people can hear you. So, when I discovered at a young age that I could put bars together, I kind of became addicted to it. And like the flute, I practiced and wanted to be the best at it.”
5. Missy Elliot is her “ultimate icon”
Missy’s music video “The Rain” was especially influential for Lizzo. “Seeing a woman dressed the way that she was dressing, acting the way she was acting, sittin’ on the hill. ‘Beep beep, who got the keys to the Jeep, Vroom…’ This was the song that made me believe I could do anything,” Lizzo told Teen Vogue, “She’s so unique, so incredible, so special, so magical. The only unicorn we’ve ever had. Protect her at all costs.”
6. Lizzo actually got to collab with Missy!
She and Missy worked on the song “Tempo” together. It must have been a dream come true!
Instagram | @lizzobeeating
7. She has the power to will things into existence
In August 2012, Lizzo tweeted out that she desperately wanted to rap on a Lazerbeak beat but couldn’t afford it, and on the very same day, Lazerbeak responded: “I’ve been known to accept payment in the form of Mike’s Hard Strawberry Lemonade from time to time.” Shortly after, Lazerbeak helped her produce her debut studio album, Lizzobangers.
8. She puts the “sing” in “single”
She told Busy Philipps that she slid into Drake’s DMs after a few too many drinks, and then deleted the message… but Drake followed her afterwards! She also flirted shamelessly with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Such bold behavior and confidence was hard-earned.
In her interview with Teen Vogue, Lizzo showed a more vulnerable side. “When I was in high school, I was a big girl with a cute face. So, dudes liked me secretly, but they didn’t like me publicly. I never had a boyfriend because they didn’t want to claim me.”
Vulture reports that she received a scholarship at the University of Houston to study classical flute performance. “Not a lot of people knew that,” she said at the Q Studio on CBC, “’Cause you know, I’m a rapper. But like, how many rappers studied flute in college? Not many.” She admits it’s a hard instrument to pick up and learn, but she practiced by listening to songs on the radio and learning them by ear.
10. Her flute has its own Instagram page, and you should definitely be following it!
She named the instrument Sasha Flute, and its Instagram handle is @sashabefluting, which parallels nicely with Lizzo’s own Instagram name, @lizzobeeating. Lizzo tries to include Sasha in as many songs as possible, so if you hear any flute in her tunes, just know that it’s actually Lizzo playing.
11. Her song “Water Me” was nominated for a BET Her Award in 2018
The award ultimately went to Mary J. Blige for “Strength of a Woman,” but when Lizzo was nominated, she wrote on Facebook, “Awards are just trophies and you can’t take them with you... but nominations like this just reinforce that all the hard work my team puts in is being recognized!!!!”
12. She isn’t shy about being fabulous.
Lizzo made waves at the Met Gala this year, and the morning after when she sashayed through the airport still in her glamorous feathered Marc Jacobs coat.
13. The first time she ever performed “Juice” on TV was on The Ellen Show
The funk/rap/pop mix sounds exactly like what ’80s artists would produce if they time-traveled to 2019. Lizzo and her backup dancers twerked and sashayed through Ellen’s audience and owned the stage.
“You have this kind of magic thing that happens,” one of her producers, Ricky Reed, described the bop to The New York Times, “It’s almost like 2019 ‘vintage’ sounds.”
14. Lizzo’s best friends contributed the back-up vocals to “Juice”
“Juice” songwriter Theron Thomas told The New York Times, “We needed some gang vocals, you know? I wanted like, a group of girls in there.” So Lizzo suggested her best friends, and when they arrived at the studio to record, they brought the missing ingredient.
“This was a case where it was like, this is bananas, how much it was adding.” Reed insisted.
“It’s the little details like that that make a song from a good song to a magical moment,” Lizzo summarized.
15. She’s in a movie!
Lizzo provides the voice for Lydia in 2019’s UglyDolls, starring alongside industry giants like Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Wanda Sykes, Pitbull, Emma Roberts, Blake Shelton, Wang Leehom, Bebe Rexha, Gabriel Iglesias, and Charli XCX. The movie’s theme is about embracing your differences, which is pretty much Lizzo’s entire brand.
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TODAY I MAKE MY ANIMATED DEBUT!!!! Go see @uglydolls w/ the family and tag me when u see my purple ass head!!! Everybody and they mama is in this movie too @janellemonae @kellyclarkson @charli_xcx @beberexha @pitbull @iamwandasykes @blakeshelton @nickjonas and more!!!! Go get yo life, doll!!!
A post shared by Lizzo (@lizzobeeating) on
Hustlers will see Lizzo’s live-action film debut, where she’ll be acting alongside Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Lili Reinhart, and Cardi B. The film is scheduled to release in theaters September 2019.
17. “The world needs Lizzo”
Ricky Reed is a Grammy-nominated producer who’s worked with Jason Derulo, Jessie J, and Meghan Trainor. Lizzo walked into his studio to record her contemporary gospel track, “Worship.” Up to that point, she was known mostly for her rapping abilities, but Reed wanted to know if she could sing, too. She told him that she “sang a little growing up,” but wasn’t confident she could reach the highest notes of the song. He got her to sing for him, and he was completely floored.
“I heard Aretha. I heard Chaka. I heard the soul of all my favorite singers in a whole new style that was all Lizzo,” Reed described to Teen Vogue. He told his manager, “We need Lizzo. The world needs Lizzo.”
If you’re only discovering this legend now, you’re not alone. I hadn’t heard of her until this week, and though she’s been gradually growing in popularity since the release of her first album, Lizzobangers, in 2013, her launch to stardom is introducing her to new fans and artists around the world.
What does she have to say to these new admirers?
“[People] will be like, ‘Lizzo’s my favorite new artist...why am I late for the Lizzo train?’” Lizzo told Teen Vogue. “You’re late, honey, but it’s not your fault. You’re late because I’m just at the back of the shelf. But I’m glad you’re here because you worked to find this.”
No more back of the shelf for Lizzo. 2019 is her year, and she’s the top-shelf stuff that makes me wanna slide into Drake’s DMs. 📱 😉🍹
For any Control Play subscribers, you can find several of Lizzo’s tracks in your Player. I’ve included the Song/Video rating in brackets to help with playlist selection and filtration.
“Good as Hell” [Bad Royale Remix] (Adult)
“Tempo” ft. Missy Elliot (Adult)
“Good as Hell” (Adult/Adult)
“Truth Hurts” (Adult/Adult)
“Water Me” (Adult/Adult)
“Cuz I Love You” (Adult/PG)
“My Skin” (Everyone/PG)
“Scuse Me” (Adult/Adult)
“Let ‘Em Say” with Caroline Smith (Everyone/Everyone)
“Batches & Cookies” ft. Sophia Eris (Adult/Adult)
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