Artist spotlight: Lizzo

The Minneapolis singer-rapper is taking over the world


By Shane Kelly, Collegian Correspondent

This Valentine’s Day, fans of the musical artist Lizzo got a title track single and video for her upcoming album, “Cuz I Love You,set to release April 19.

Born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, Lizzo was born in Houston but her career began to take off after moving to Minneapolis in 2011. She was a member of various groups like “Lizzo & the Larva Ink,”“The Clerb,”“Ellypseas,” “Absynthe,” “Grrrl Prty” and “The Chalice.” Although “The Chalice” made some noise locally with their album “We Are The Chalice,” it was not until she went solo that Lizzo started making the national waves that lead her to headlining her own tours in North America and across Europe.

Her newest video counters the typical expectations of gender by showcasing various men crying in tank tops as Lizzo stays seated upright in an intricate outfit with a stoic expression on her face, challenging the cultural expectations of masculinity. The artist acts as a priest listening to confessions of one of the men at the other side of the booth. The man mouths along to the lyrics of the song, “I thought I was love impaired” as Lizzo listens. Just two weeks after its release the “Cuz I Love You” official video has 760,000 views and an impressive 37,000 likes.

Lizzo’s discography is far from repetitive. The singer showcases classical flute, rap and vocal talent with an array of hip hop songs and pop anthems. Lizzo entered into the LGBTQ+ mainstream by recording vocals and writing songs for famous drag queen RuPaul, and eventually being a guest judge on the 10th season of the hit VH1 show “Rupaul’s Drag Race.” Since her appearance on “Drag Race,” Lizzo’s career has taken off and her status as a gay icon solidified.

Her 14-track premiere album, entitled “Lizzobangers,” debuted in Oct. 2013. The album was produced by Lazerbeak and Ryan Olson and lead to an international tour of the United States and the United Kingdom in the fall of 2013. Just a month after the release, TIME Magazine named her one of 14 musical artists to watch in 2014. The website Metacritic, which scores musical work, gave the album an average score of 85 out of 100, indicating “universal acclaim.” Lizzo then released another album titled “Big Grrrl Small World” in 2015 which lead her to working with Grammy-nominated producer Ricky Reed. The following year she was signed by Atlantic Records.

Earlier this year, we saw Lizzo perform on various talk shows. In January she graced the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” stage with her single “Juice.”The upbeat, body-positive banger incorporated the singer’s classical ensemble training with a flute solo in the middle of the performance. Just a week later she performed the same single at “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” Wearing a captivating mirrored bodysuit she turned stage into a stunning light show. In tune with her 2019 momentum, she performed “Juice” again, alongside a cover of the Miley Cyrus track “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” at the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.

In addition to her support of the LGBTQ+ community and her music, Lizzo is a passionate supporter of body positivity. In June of 2018 she was part of ModCloth’s “Say It Louder” campaign. She’s quoted as saying, “No matter how big or small you are, you can be sexy and wear whatever the f— you want.” In the same month, Lizzo modeled the first plus-sized outfit made for the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Future of Fashion show designed by Grace Insogna at Pride Island. One of her previous, and perhaps most well-known, singles, “Good As Hell” promotes self confidence with lyrics like “‘’cause he don’t love you anymore, so walk your fine ass out the door, and do your hair toss, check my nails, baby how you feelin’? Feeling good as hell!”

This spring Lizzo is set to begin the “Cuz I Love You Tour” starting with a performance at California music festival Coachella. With dates in Toronto, Washington DC, London, Boston, Netherlands, Barcelona, Paris and more, Lizzo is selling out across the world. Catch Lizzo performing at The House of Blues in Boston on May 22 to experience a performance that you will not forget!

Shane Kelly can be reached at [email protected]