Lizzo, born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and presenter. Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Texas, Lizzo started rapping as a teenager. At the age of 14, she formed a rap group named the ‘Cornrow Clique.’ For the next few years, she performed in collaboration with many indie artists and formed an all-female music trio named ‘The Chalice.’ The group released their debut album, ‘We Are the Chalice,’ in 2012. The indie album was a sleeper hit locally. Lizzo was eventually signed by the record label ‘Totally Gross National Product.’ Her first solo album, ‘Lizzobangers,’ was released in 2013. The album was a critical and commercial success. Following the release of her second album, ‘Big Grrrl Small World,’ in 2015, she was signed by ‘Atlantic Records.’ With ‘Atlantic,’ she released her third studio album, ‘Cuz I Love You.’ Throughout her career, she has been the founding member of many hip-hop groups, such as ‘Grrrl Prty,’ ‘The Chalice,’ ‘The Clerb,’ and ‘Absynthe.’
Childhood & Early Life
Lizzo was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, on April 27, 1988, in Detroit, Michigan. She grew up with two older siblings and spent the early few years of her life in her hometown.
Although no member of her family belonged to the entertainment industry, they were all avid music lovers. Everyone in the family had their own taste in music. Growing up amidst this environment had a positive impact on Lizzo.
Her family was deeply religious and believed in the Pentecostal church. She sang gospels and was part of church choirs. This influenced her music, too.
At the age of 9, she moved with her family to Houston, Texas, where she started her real training in music. She learned to play the flute and listened to as much music as she could. She also joined the school’s marching band in middle school and continued till she joined college. She played the piccolo in the school marching band.
Houston also witnessed many freestyle rap battles. Lizzo attended many such battles and participated in a few of them. However, she had decided that she would never be limited to only hip-hop music. She also polished her flute-playing skills.
In 2005, she enrolled at the ‘University of Houston’ but dropped out before she completed her bachelor’s degree. By then, her music career had picked up significant pace. Around the same time, her parents had moved to another city and she was left alone with no place to sleep. She spent many nights in her car. However, she somehow continued to meet people related to the music industry.
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She had started rapping when she was 14 years old and was living in Houston. She formed a rap group named the ‘Cornrow Clique,’ collaborating with her best friends. She played at many local events and gained some name for herself.
After moving to Minneapolis, she joined hands with many hip-hop groups and performed locally. She formed a three-piece all female rap/R&B group named ‘The Chalice,’ which became her stepping stone into the music industry. With ‘The Chalice,’ she recorded her debut album.
In 2012, the group released their independently released debut album, ‘We Are the Chalice.’ In the absence of a record label, the album became only a local success and was played at local clubs and pubs.
She was gaining attention and soon came in touch with musicians such as Lazerbeak and Ryan Olson. They worked together on Lizzo’s debut studio album, ‘Lizzobangers.’ The album was released in October 2013, under the label ‘Totally Gross National Product.’
The album featured 14 songs and was a major critical and commercial success. Many respected publications such as ‘The Guardian’ and ‘Drowned in Sound’ gave the album high ratings. The music videos from the album earned a decent number of views on ‘YouTube.’
She toured the UK and the USA in the fall of 2013, promoting her album and playing live on stage. She also won the ‘City Pages Picked to Click Award’ for the ‘Best New Twin Cities Artist.’ She was also named one of the artists to look forward to in 2014 by ‘Time’ magazine.
This dream-like beginning of her career resulted in collaboration offers from other established musicians. She worked with Prince on his album ‘Plectrumelectrum’ and appeared as a featured artist in three songs of the album.
Following the success of her promotional tour and her debut studio album, she started working on her sophomore album in 2013. She then worked with music producer Lazerbeak to produce her album ‘Big Grrrl Small World.’
The album featured 12 tracks and was yet another major success. Many of her songs were about her personal experience of being a “black and overweight woman” and the stigma related to it. This resonated with the listeners, and she climbed the ladder of success with yet another mega successful album.
In 2016, she released her first major EP, ‘Coconut Oil.’ By then, she was signed under ‘Atlantic Records,’ one of the biggest American record labels. Although the album was a success, it failed to achieve the success level of her first two studio albums. The magazine ‘Rolling Stones’ featured it at the 14th spot on their ‘20 Best Pop Albums of 2016’ list.
In April 2019, Lizzo released her third album, ‘Cuz I Love You,’ which was her first album to be released under a major music label. The album attained universal critical acclaim and was a commercial success, too. It debuted at the sixth spot on the ‘Billboard 200’ chart. She was also dragged into a controversy when she appeared nude on the promotional cover of the album.
In April 2019, she performed at the ‘Coachella Music Festival.’
She has also appeared on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ She has hosted 10 episodes of the music TV show ‘Wonderland’ in 2016.
She played a voice role (‘Lydia’) in the 2019 animated movie ‘Ugly Dolls.’
Family & Personal Life
Lizzo has been quite secretive about her personal life. There has been no official confirmation regarding her past relationships.
She lost her father in 2010, which was a highly traumatizing experience for her. She was depressed for a long time after the incident. She was also struggling in her career, which made it more difficult for her to cope with his death. It has been reported that she communicates with her father through a psychic medium in Los Angeles.
She is known to be a role model, as despite being overweight, she stays confident and also showcases that through the lyrics of her songs.