Zara Maria Larsson is a popular Swedish electro-pop singer-songwriter and the winner of the Swedish reality show ‘Talang’. At the age of 10 in 2008 she became a participant of the Swedish version of the talent hunt show ‘Got Talent’. She performed as a music artist/ singer before the celebrity judges Bert Karlsson, Sofia Wistam and Tobbe Blom, and won the second season of ‘Talang’ with tremendous public support. After gaining national recognition, she inked a recording deal with the label ‘TEN Music Group’ and in 2013 her first EP titled ‘Introducing’ was released. Since her entry into the music industry, the soulful singer has released two extended plays and two music albums that have garnered critical acclaim. Her singles ‘Uncover’ and ‘Lush Life’ have been certified “platinum” by ‘Universal Music Sweden’ with her second studio album ‘So Good’ seizing the seventh spot on the ‘UK Albums Chart’ since its release in March 2017. She is currently signed with the US record label ‘Epic Records’ and has plans of soon releasing her third studio album. Apart from her professional success, Zara is a social activist and feminist, but has also been labelled as a sexist as she candidly voices her dislike for male chauvinism.
Childhood & Early Life
Zara Maria Larsson was born on 16th December, 1997 in Stockholm, Sweden at the ‘Stockholm University Hospital’ to Agnetha and Anders Larsson. Her delivery was a difficult one as she was entangled in the ‘nuchal cord’ and couldn’t breathe due to lack of oxygen.
Zara has a younger sister, Hanna Larsson. Hanna and Zara grew up singing and performing together. Today, her sister is part of the ‘Hanna & Andrea’ music duo.
Owing to her vocal range and thorough knowledge of music, she was invited to join the ‘Adolf Fredrik’s Music School’ but refused the offer as she didn’t want to perform in a choir and was geared towards becoming a solo artist.
In fact, she has received no official vocal training. She trained herself by listening to popular artists like Beyonce, whom she also considers her role model as a performer and humanitarian.
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2008 Sweden's Got Talent
Zara auditioned for the reality show ‘Talang Sverige’ or ‘Sweden’s Got Talent’ in May 2008. She was only ten years old then but she managed to impress the judges with a voice that was both comforting and powerful.
Amongst the several acts put forth by various contestants on the show, the panel of judges that included Sofia Wistam, Tobbe Blom and Bert Karlsson couldn’t get enough of the child artist.
The show aired on national television in April 2008 and all her performances were heavily backed by public votes that secured her into progressing rounds.
She became a finalist alongside juggler John Wellton, Pianist David Fang, Magician Seth Engstrom, Singer Sebastian Krantz, Rapper RMK & Co., Singer Sofia Storbandet and Pianist Karina Sarkisyan. However, she won the show and was awarded 500,000 krona for her talent.
After awaiting her break for four years, she finally signed a recording deal with ‘Ten Music Group’ in 2012 and immediately began working on her debut EP.
On 21st January 2013, her first EP called ‘Introducing’ was launched. Her first single from the album peaked several music charts. It was placed at the number one spot on ‘Sverigetopplistan’ and ‘DigiListan’.
‘Introducing’ was certified “triple platinum” by ‘Universal Music Sweden’. Soon after the success of her first EP, she began working on her second extended play and titled it ‘Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself’. It contained five songs including the double-single ‘She’s Not Me’.
The same year in April, she signed a three-year recording deal with the US label ‘Epic Records’. Under the brand she began working on her first ever studio album and announced later that year that it would be titled ‘1’.
Her debut album hit music shelves on 1st October 2014 and contained 14 tracks including her biggest hit ‘Uncover’. The album’s first single ‘Bad Boys’ was released on 13th October 2013 and was followed by the songs ‘Carry You Home’ and ‘Rooftop’. By year end, she accompanied the British singer Cher Lloyd in an opening act for the ‘I Wish Tour’. On the tour she mainly performed in North America to promote her debut studio album.
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Second Album & International Fame
In early 2015, she began working on her second studio album. Her first single from the album was named ‘Lush Life’ and was aired on radio on 5thJune, 2015. Already harnessing global recognition by now, ‘Lush Life’ became her second most hit single after ‘Uncover’.
The song ranked among the top five songs worldwide and was certified “four times platinum” by ‘Univeral Music Sweden’. For the album’s second single ‘Never Forget You’, she collaborated with the British singer ‘MNEK’, the song was rated number 1 in Sweden.
The following year, she featured in the song ‘Girls Like’ by ‘Tinie Tempah’ and also performed for the opening and closing concert of ‘UEFA Euro 2016’ in the David Guetta’s song ‘This One’s for You’.
In September 2016, the third single of her album ‘Ain’t My Fault’ and comfortably made it to the top 20 hits in Australia, Denmark and United Kingdom.
The album’s title track ‘So Good’ released in January 2017. It featured the famous American rapper ‘Ty Dolla Sign’. A music video of the song released on 3rd February 2017 and the album was launched the next month on 17th March.
Zara’s debut album ‘1’ was released under ‘TEN Music Group’ and ‘Universal Music Group’. It sold over 40,000 units and peaked at number one in the ‘Swedish Albums’ chart. It consists of pop, R&B, electronic, dance-pop and europop tracks.
‘So Good’ was her second studio album under the ‘Epic Records’ label. The album was certified “platinum” in Sweden and Norway. It ranked number one on ‘Swedish Albums’ and number 7 on ‘Australian Albums(ARIA)’, ‘Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)’ and ‘UK Albums (OCC)’ music charts.
Awards & Achievements
In 2014, she was nominated in the category of ‘Best Swedish Star’ at the ‘Kids Choice Awards’, and for ‘Best Song’ at the ‘Gaygalan’, ‘P3 Guld’ and ‘Grammis’ for her song ‘Uncover’. However, that year she took home the ‘Best Female Live Artist’ at the ‘Rockbjornen Awards’.
In 2015, she was nominated at the ‘Grammis’ for ‘Best Song – Carry You Home’ and ‘Artist of the Year’. She also made it to the ‘Kids Choice Awards’ nomination for ‘Favorite Swedish Artist’.
In 2016, she won the ‘Best New Act Award’ at the ‘MTV Europe Music Awards’ and the ‘Favorite Swedish Star’ at the ‘Kids Choice Awards’.
Her single ‘Lush Life’ bagged the ‘Song of the Year’ at the ‘P3 Guld 2016 Awards’ and on 22nd October 2016 she was named as “One of the 30 Most Influential Teens” by ‘Time Magazine’.
She was nominated in the category of ‘British Single of the Year’ for ‘Girls Like’ at the ‘Brit Awards’ in 2017 and won the ‘Artist of the Year’ at the ‘Grammis’ the same year.
Zara was rumored to be in a relationship with the American pop star Justin Bieber in 2016 and was later linked with Niall Horans in 2017. However, she dismissed both rumors in the media and stated that she is single.
She has often been reprimanded for her sexist comments and has been referred to as a “man hater” by followers on social media owing to her general views on men.
She is an activist and aims to eliminate gender inequality and racism from society. She was deeply hurt after a man sexually assaulted a woman during her performance at the ‘Bravalla festival’ in 2016 and took to social media to vent her disapproval of such behaviour.