In case you (somehow) haven’t heard, Lizzo is currently dominating the pop music world. Known for her vibrant songs and expert-level ability to twerk and play the flute at the same time, the 31-year-old star is taking the world by storm and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. So, shouldn’t you know more about her? Let’s start with her real name.
Oh, and spoiler alert: It’s not Elizabeth or Eliza.
Lizzo’s real name
The world knows Lizzo as “100% that b*tch,” but her actual name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson. She was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 27, 1988, and raised in Houston, Texas.
She was exposed to music at a young age, telling NPR in December 2016 that her family raised her on gospel music. But when she moved to Houston, she fell in love with hip hop, which was something that her peers listened to.
“There was a lot of freestyling on the [school] bus, there was a lot of freestyling in the cafeteria, and there was a lot of freestyling on the radio,” Lizzo explained to NPR. “And I would call into this morning show and try to get through so I could do the freestyle.”
She told The Cut in 2019 that she started learning to play the flute in sixth grade at her band director’s recommendation, and went on to play in marching bands from eighth grade until college. (She attended the University of Houston.) Lizzo often incorporates the flute into her performances, as she did at the 2019 BET Awards.
How Lizzo got her stage name
Lizzo told the Chicago Tribune in 2017 that she received the nickname in the seventh grade and that it stuck.
“Now everyone calls me that. If you called me ‘Melissa’ it would be really weird,” she explained. “Back in school, they’d call me ‘Mellisso’ or ‘Lizzo.’ Everybody, where I grew up in Houston, would chop off half the name and put an ‘o’ at the end.”
She later told The Cut that she got the name after forming a rap crew, the Cornrow Clique, with two friends. Lizzo explained that they first began calling her Lissa, but switched to Lizzo after hearing Jay-Z’s ever-popular single, “Izzo.”
A quick history of Lizzo’s professional career
While Lizzo has pretty much been dabbling in music since middle school, she told The Cut that she didn’t join her “first real band,” a group called Ellypseas, until 2008.
“I dead-a** asked them if they wanted to get on MTV,” she told the outlet.
They didn’t make it to MTV, but they at least managed to book shows at the music festival South by Southwest.
However, the group disbanded just two years later.
Lizzo eventually moved to Minnesota, where she formed two bands. But she had also started to make music on the side — and her solo efforts paid off.
In 2019, Lizzo achieved mainstream success, reaching dizzying heights of national and international admiration through songs like the chart-topping anthem, “Truth Hurts.”
So, to summarize, she’s Melissa — aka Lizzo — and she’s 100% that b*tch.