Lizzo: The Detroit Girl That's Conquering The World

By Antisia King


Melissa Viviane Jefferson is an American recording artist, singer, and songwriter who performs under the stage name “Lizzo.” Her music primarily consists of hip hop, but she also incorporates funk-pop, soul, and R&B into her songs.

Lizzo was born on April 27th, 1988, and raised in Detroit for the first ten years of her life. Gospel music was popular in her household because of her faith. Lizzo moved with her family to Houston at age 10, where she became classically trained to play the flute. Her music teacher Claudia Momen believed that Lizzo was on track to becoming a professional orchestral flutist. But when Lizzo got to high school, she started rapping and writing rhymes with her friends.

They soon formed a music group named Cornrow Clique, but it never went on to become famous. Instead, it was a music group that Lizzo performed in with her friends for fun. But the formation of Cornrow Clique was when Lizzo first invented the stage name “Lizzo,” which is a variation of the “Lissa” part of her real first name, “Melissa.” Jay-Z’s first single, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” was the inspiration for the “Izzo” part of the name.

After graduating high school, Lizzo continued to study classical music and the flute while attending the University of Houston. Lizzo got into the university on a scholarship due to her excellent skills at playing the flute. But when her father died suddenly, she dropped out of college at age 21 and lived out of her car. So Lizzo decided to put all her energy toward breaking into the music industry and making a name for herself.

In 2011, Lizzo moved to Minneapolis to pursue her music career after a friend invited her. She performed with various music groups to gain some recognition, including Chalice and GRRRL PRTY. Two years later, in 2013, Lizzo released her first hip-hop album under an independent label. The album was called “Lizzobangers,” which was produced by Ryan Olson and Lazerbreak.

Lizzobangers spawned praise from The Guardian and Star Tribune. It also resulted in numerous music videos getting made for the songs in her album. Her newfound recognition sent her on a music tour throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, sharing center stage with musicians and bands like Har Mar Superstar and St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

Lizzo spent the next six years performing live and releasing more work, such as the album “Big Grrrl Small World” in 2015 and her first solo extended-play “Coconut Oil” in 2016. Music critics gave her positive reviews for these releases, especially Coconut Oil which ranked #44 on the U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums music chart. However, her career breakthrough came in 2019 after she recorded her first major label album, “Cuz I Love You.”

The album debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 music chart and peaked at #4. Lizzo was finally earning mainstream success in the music industry. Her 2017 single “Truth Hurts” was added to the album’s deluxe version, causing the single to land on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in two years.

Lizzo is now a superstar hip-hop recording artist and voice actress. She continues to produce hit singles and albums, earning her eight Grammy Award nominations and three Grammy Award wins in 2020. Lizzo won in the categories: Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album, and Best Pop Solo Performance. No other artist received eight nominations that year.

Lizzo has credited her father and early Detroit roots for shaping her into the music superstar she is today.

Catch Lizzo on Tour: