This is her year: Lizzo’s music career from dreamer to Grammy-winning artist

When you think of Lizzo, it’s easy to assume that she’s been part of the cultural zeitgeist for years. Her songs “Juice” and “Truth Hurts” have been on the Top 100 Chart for weeks and her twerk-flute-playing abilities have literally brought us back to life. But while it was just last year that our Queen Lizzo took the throne and made us feel “Good as Hell,” there’s one thing you should refrain from calling her—and it’s an overnight success.

Of course, it can be hard to recognize all the hard work a musical artist puts into their career. When their song becomes an instant hit and their life is turned around, a lot of people can confuse their big break as an instant success—but this is further from the truth when it comes to Lizzo and her pop and R&B career.

With the 62nd Grammy Awards airing this Sunday, and with Lizzo being nominated for eight(!!) Grammy nominations across five categories, we thought it was fitting to do a complete career breakdown of how she got started to how she conquered the world—because while it’s easy to believe that she’s an overnight success, she is clearly anything but.

Where was Lizzo born?

Lizzo, or otherwise known as Melissa Viviane Jefferson, was born in Detroit, Michigan, where she lived with her family until she was nine years old. Shortly after, she and her family moved to Houston, Texas.

How did Lizzo get her name?

When she lived in Houston, she became part of an R&B group called Cornrow Clique with a few of her friends from middle school—this was when the Lizzo persona was born. “Lizzo is my nickname. It came from Houston, in middle school. I was in my first rap crew, Cornrow Clique. Everybody in my crew would take their name, shorten it, and put an ‘o’ at the end. Mine was ‘Lizzo’ and it kind of stuck with me and I brought it with me. It made me feel way more comfortable,” she told 88 Nine Radio Milwaukee.

How did Lizzo begin her music career?

Her music career began before she was signed by any labels. Since she was 14 years old, Lizzo was rapping, taking flute lessons and joining R&B groups. But as time went on, she started to take her flute career more seriously, where she ended up studying classical flute performance at the University of Houston. “I was just so good at flute,” Lizzo said in a Rolling Stone interview. ”[I thought], ‘This is it for me. I’m going to college for this s—.’ I knew back then.” However, college became a struggle for her and decided to drop out entirely shortly after.

But after the passing of her father, which happened when she was just 20 years old, she decided to make a location change with a friend to Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is where she joined music groups, such as Lizzo & the Larva Ink and the all-female rap group, the Chalice. But it wasn’t until 2013 when she decided to tour as a solo artist.

"I told the universe I was never going to be a solo artist unless it was easy, because I had tried and it didn’t work. If I do this, it’s because it comes to me, not because I forced it," she said in the 88 Nine Radio Milwaukee interview.

Soon after, Lizzo was signed to Atlantic Records in 2015.

What was Lizzo’s first solo album?

LizzoBangers is a 15-track album, which was described in its press release as a “forward-thinking experimental production style of [Lazer] Beak and [Ryan] Olson,” who are Minneapolis-based indie hip-hop producers. Listen to this album here.

Did Lizzo work with Prince?

Short answer: Yes. She and her friend, Eris, became local celebrities because of their Destiny’s Child-inspired girl group, the Chalice, and Prince, who is a Minneapolis native, took notice. According to the Rolling StonesPrince had both of them appear on his 2014 album, Plectrumelectrum, and even offered to produce an album for Lizzo right before he died.

"I used to be so upset that I never had co-signs, she mentioned in a 2018 Rolling Stone interview. “I was like, ‘I’m too weird for the rappers and too black for the indies.’ I was just sitting in this league of my own. To be embraced by Prince and co-signed, I am eternally grateful for that.

How did Lizzo become famous?

After the release of her 2016 album, The Coconut Oil, Lizzo slipped out a single called “Truth Hurts” in 2017, but it fell flat and that’s when she started to question if the music industry was a right fit for her. However, on the same day that her 2019 album Cuz I Love You released so did a little Netflix movie called Someone Great, which happened to feature her two-year-old song “Truth Hurts”—and that’s when everything changed for this Detroit native.

How many albums does Lizzo have?

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What 2020 Grammys did Lizzo get nominated for?

  • RECORD OF THE YEAR: Truth Hurts
  • ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)
  • SONG OF THE YEAR: Truth Hurts
  • BEST R&B PERFORMANCE: Exactly How I Feel

How many Grammys did Lizzo win?

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