L-I-Z-Z-O: ‘Sweet Sounds’ of Moxie
A very different story could have emerged from last week’s Grammys.
Billie Eilish swept the evening, walking away with five awards. But we could easily have been telling the very same story about Melissa Viviane Jefferson, AKA “Lizzo”, who was nominated in eight categories and a strong contender to sweep coming into the ceremony.
No matter. You’ve likely spent the last several years hearing from and about Lizzo, and that’s not likely to stop any time soon.
The singer, rapper and flutist (yes, flutist!) toiled away for years before the world was ready to embrace her powerful and empowering pop style. It takes moxie to blaze a trail and hoping the world catches up, and Lizzo has it. Here’s how:
Moxie pays its dues.
Can we all just acknowledge now that there’s just not such a thing as overnight success? Success is almost always the result of a long, hard struggle.
Lizzo’s affinity for music was evident even during her high school years in Houston when she formed an all-girl group with friends. She went on to major in classical music and study flute at the University of Houston.
Times became especially difficult after her father died when Lizzo was just 21. She spent a year living out of her car, trying to break into the music industry.
All that began to slowly change when she relocated to Minneapolis in 2011. She began working and touring with local groups, and slowly built a following and reputation. By 2014, she began to breakthrough. She was featured on Prince’s song “BoyTrouble.” She went on to release her second album to critical praise.
By 2016, commercial success followed with the release of her album Coconut Oil, which included the anthem “Good as Hell.”
Lizzo toiled away for five long years before she began to achieve commercial success. That takes moxie.
How long are you willing to work to achieve your dream?
Moxie defies categories.
If the last time you heard a flute dominate popular music was the Jethro Tull days, allow Lizzo to catch you up.
When she’s not rapid with a rapid-fire, stream of consciousness alacrity, or singing with soul-stirring feeling, Lizzo is strutting and striding across the stage with a flute at her lips. I had no idea that you could belt out a tune with a flute quite like that. I also had no idea that you could twerk with a flute quite like that, either.
Lizzo is all about bringing all of who she is to the stage and presenting her art to the world, whether it fits expectations or not. The result is a sound that is fresh, new and exciting. If Lizzo hadn’t had the skill, creativity, and courage to play the flute on a pop track, what would we be missing?
Moxie demands respect.
Body positivity is central to Lizzo’s appeal. She not only sings about self-love and self-acceptance, but she’s also not shy about sharing daring pictures of herself – in and out of high-fashion ensembles – on social media.
Case in Point:
Lizzo has become a style icon and “CoverGirl” in a world where women with even an extra ounce of flesh are made invisible. She’s not shy about using her platform to demand respect, either.
Few fashion houses design for bodies outside a narrow range of teeny-tiny options. Those houses get a hard pass from the fashion influencer.
“If you’re not making clothes for me, and if you don’t want to make clothes for me, I don’t want to wear your [designs],” she told Allure magazine, which featured her on its cover. “I look good in other [things] anyway. But call me if you want to dress me. If you want to change the game and dress a fat body, call me.”
I could definitely envision Lizzo gracing the Kentucky Derby one day in the future. Imagine how glorious her Derby outfit might be! If I ever get the chance to sit down with her, what should I ask?