It didn’t take long for all of us to become low-key obsessed with Lizzo (or maybe the obsession has been not-so-low-key for some of us). The “Juice” singer has enjoyed a meteoric rise in success and become a household name over the past few years. She has even had songs at the center of several TikTok trends, which is how you know she’s really made it.
Obviously, Lizzo hasn’t always lived her life in the spotlight. She has opened up recently about her parents, and the major roles they played in her life and career. Here’s what we know.
Lizzo’s parents both played huge roles in her life and career.
Lizzo was born on April 27, 1988, in Detroit, Mich. It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to you that she wasn’t known as Lizzo at the time — her given name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson. At the age of 10, Lizzo and her family moved to Houston, Tex., where she began rapping when she was a teenager. She got the nickname Lizzo when she was 14, and started studying classical music (with a focus on the flute) at the University of Houston shortly thereafter.
Sadly, tragedy struck Lizzo’s life when her father died in 2009. In a 2019 interview with CBS This Morning, Lizzo said that her dad had always encouraged her to play music. Shortly after his death, she dropped out of school. “I was depressed. I didn't have a purpose. Like, I didn't feel like I had a purpose for being a musician or anything.”
“So that turned into, 'Oh can I sleep on your couch,' and that eventually, I got really guilt-ridden. So all I had was this car. It was a Subaru," she said. "That was my home for a little. I spent Thanksgiving in that car, and I remember I cried myself to sleep.”
Fortunately, Lizzo was able to enjoy happier days. “I used everything that happened to me and made myself stronger,” she said. She joined a band after answering a Craigslist ad, moved to Minneapolis, and spent the next 10 years grinding and trying to make it in the music industry. And, obviously, it worked.
On New Year’s Eve 2019, Lizzo tweeted about the journey she’d been on over the past decade. “2009 was the year my daddy died. 2009 was the year I lived in my car & cried myself to sleep on Thanksgiving. 2019 is the year my album and song went No. 1. 2019 is the year I told my mama I can buy her a house. Anything can happen in a decade. Tomorrow is the beginning of [your] anything,” the tweet read.
Speaking of Lizzo’s mom, it turns out that 2020 had some good things in store for her, too. Lizzo posted on Dec. 20, 2020 that she had been able to gift her mom — Shari Johnson-Jefferson — with a brand-new car for Christmas.
“Got my mommy a brand new Audi for Xmas,” Lizzo wrote in an Instagram caption beneath a video of the incredible surprise. “I remember crying in my car when my daddy passed, no job no money nowhere to live, wishing I could one day provide for my family. I couldn’t do it for my dad so ima make sure I spoil Mama. Happy holidays y’all.”