SZA (singer)

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SZA CTRL Tour Toronto 2017 10 (cropped).jpg
Rowe performing in August 2017
Solána Imani Rowe

(1990-11-08) November 8, 1990 (age 28)
  • Singer
  • songwriter [2]
Years active2012–present
Home town Maplewood, New Jersey, U.S. [1]
Musical career
Associated acts

Solána Imani Rowe (born November 8, 1990), [3] known professionally as SZA ( /ˈsɪzə/ , [4] is an American singer and songwriter. In October 2012, SZA self-released her debut EP, See.SZA.Run , which she then followed up with her second EP, S , in April 2013. In July 2013, she signed with the hip hop record label Top Dawg Entertainment, through which she released Z , her third EP and first retail release, in April 2014. [5] [6]

Singing act of producing musical sounds with the voice

Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, gazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.

A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated with writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.

Extended play musical recording longer than a single, but shorter than a full album

An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.


SZA's debut studio album, Ctrl , was released on June 9, 2017, to universal acclaim from music critics. [7] It debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 and was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). " The Weekend" from her Ctrl album peaked at #29 which is her highest charting solo song. [8] The album and its songs were nominated for four Grammy Awards, while SZA was nominated for Best New Artist at the 60th annual ceremony. Ctrl was ranked as the best album of 2017 by Time . [9] SZA collaborated with Maroon 5 for their 2017 record "What Lovers Do," earning SZA her first US Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. [10] She later followed that by featuring on the 2018 Black Panther (soundtrack) record with Kendrick Lamar, "All the Stars," which peaked at number 7 in the US, And was also nominated for the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. [11]

<i>Ctrl</i> (SZA album) 2017 studio album by SZA

Ctrl is the debut studio album by American singer SZA. It was released on June 9, 2017, on Top Dawg Entertainment and RCA Records. Originally scheduled for release in late 2015, it was delayed by SZA's experience of "a kind of blinding paralysis brought on by anxiety." She worked and reworked the album until the record company took away her hard drive in the spring of 2017.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

SZA is a neo soul singer, whose music has been described as alternative R&B, with elements of soul, hip hop, minimalist R&B, cloud rap, witch house, and chillwave. [12] SZA's lyrics are described as "unravelling" and her songs often revolve around themes of sexuality, nostalgia, and abandonment. [13] SZA cites a variety of artists as influences, including Ella Fitzgerald, Meelah, Björk, Jamiroquai, and Lauryn Hill, among others. [14] [15] SZA also takes influence from non-musical artists, including filmmaker Spike Lee. [15]

Neo soul is a genre of popular music. The term was coined by music industry entrepreneur Kedar Massenburg during the late 1990s to market and describe a style of music that emerged from soul and contemporary R&B. Heavily based in soul music, neo soul is distinguished by a less conventional sound than its contemporary R&B counterpart, with incorporated elements ranging from jazz, funk, hip hop and electronic to pop, fusion, and African music. It has been noted by music writers for its traditional R&B influences, conscious-driven lyrics, and strong female presence.

Alternative R&B is a term used by music journalists to describe a stylistic alternative to contemporary R&B.

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

Early life

Solána Imani Rowe was born on November 8, 1990, [16] in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in Maplewood, New Jersey. [1] Her father was an executive producer at CNN, while her mother was an executive at AT&T. [17] She recently received a native Nigerian Igbo name called, Amarachi Chinonso. [18] Chinonso was born to African American parents, a Christian mother and a Muslim father. [17] She has an older half-sister named Tiffany Daniels, and an older brother, Daniel, a rapper named Manhattan. [19] [17] She was raised as an orthodox Muslim. [20] She is reportedly of Igbo descent.

Maplewood, New Jersey Township in New Jersey, United States

Maplewood is a suburban township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 23,867, reflecting a decline of 1 person (0.0%) from the 23,868 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 2,216 (+10.2%) from the 21,652 counted in the 1990 Census.

CNN American news channel

Cable News Network (CNN) is an American news-based pay television channel owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia. CNN was founded in 1980 by American media proprietor Ted Turner as a 24-hour cable news channel. Upon its launch, CNN was the first television channel to provide 24-hour news coverage, and was the first all-news television channel in the United States.

AT&T American multinational conglomerate holding company

AT&T Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the world's largest telecommunications company, the largest provider of mobile telephone services, and the largest provider of fixed telephone services in the United States through AT&T Communications. Since June 14, 2018, it is also the parent company of mass media conglomerate WarnerMedia, making it the world's largest media and entertainment company in terms of revenue. As of 2018, AT&T is ranked #9 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

It’s like the belief in one God, all the pillars of Islam et cetera, and I think those are ideas that will never leave me, those make sense in my spirit. It’s the way that I connect with God; it has always made sense to me. I think I would love to wear my hijab but I feel like I don’t wanna wear my hijab and talk crazy on stage and be in videos with Travis Scott. Like I don’t wanna be disrespectful because I have too much love and respect for the religion, for my father, and for myself. [21]

Travis Scott American rapper, singer and record producer from Texas

Jacques Berman Webster II, known professionally as Travis Scott, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. In 2012, Scott signed his first major-label deal with Epic Records. In November of the same year, Scott signed a deal with Kanye West's GOOD Music, as part of its production wing Very GOOD Beats, after appearing on the label's 2012 compilation album Cruel Summer. In April 2013, Scott signed a record deal with T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint.

She attended a Muslim prep school every day after her regular schooling. Rowe attended Columbia High School, where she was very active in sports, including gymnastics and cheerleading. [22] [23] However, due to the September 11 attacks, Rowe was subjected to bullying in highschool, leading her to stop wearing her hijab. [20] As a high school sophomore, she was ranked among the best gymnasts in the United States. [22]

Columbia High School (New Jersey) high school in Maplewood, New Jersey, United States

Columbia High School is a four-year comprehensive regional public high school in Maplewood, New Jersey, which serves students in ninth through twelfth grades, as the lone secondary school of the South Orange-Maplewood School District, which includes Maplewood and South Orange, neighboring communities in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools since 1928; its accreditation expires in December 2023.

Gymnastics sport


Cheerleading type of fun activity

Cheerleading is an activity in which the participants cheer for their team as a form of encouragement. It can range from chanting slogans to intense physical activity. It can be performed to motivate sports teams, to entertain the audience, or for competition. Competitive routines typically range anywhere from one to three minutes, and contain components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers, and stunting.

After graduating from high school in 2008, [24] Rowe later went to three separate colleges, finally settling at Delaware State University to study marine biology. [25] [17] She eventually dropped out in her last semester, however she immediately started taking on random jobs in order to make money. [26] [27] [17] Rowe formed her stage name from the Supreme Alphabet, taking influence from rapper RZA. The last two letters in her name stand for Zig-Zag and Allah, while the first letter Rowe says can mean either savior or sovereign. [1]


2011–14: Career beginnings and EPs

SZA performing in Toronto in 2013 SZA, August 2013.jpg
SZA performing in Toronto in 2013

SZA first met members of Top Dawg Entertainment during the CMJ New Music Report in 2011, when her boyfriend's clothing company sponsored a show in which Kendrick Lamar was performing. Her early music was given to TDE president Terrence "Punch" Henderson, who was surprised with the quality of the material. [5] The two stayed in touch, and after SZA began generating buzz with the release of her two EPs, TDE stepped in to sign her the label's first female artist in 2013. SZA's early music was recorded with her friends and neighbors in which they "stole a bunch of beats off the Internet". [26] On October 29, 2012, SZA self-released her debut EP See.SZA.Run . [28]

On April 10, 2013, SZA released her second EP, S , which was met with positive reviews from music critics. [29] [30] SZA promoted the extended play with the release of a music video for the song "Ice Moon", directed by Lemar & Dauley. [31] On July 14, 2013, Top Dawg signed SZA. [32] In October 2013, SZA went on a four show tour with Swedish band Little Dragon; starting on October 17 at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles and ending on October 24 at the Music Hall of Williamsbug, Brooklyn, NY. [33] In December 2013, SZA released the song "Teen Spirit" which was followed by the release of a remix featuring American rapper 50 Cent, along with a music video directed by APLUSFILMZ. [34] In 2014, SZA featured on a variety of songs from her label-mates albums including two songs for Isaiah Rashad's debut EP Cilvia Demo as well as featuring on Schoolboy Q debut studio album Oxymoron . [35] [36]

On March 26, 2014, R&B artist SZA released the single "Child's Play" featuring Chance the Rapper and produced by Dae One & XXYYXX. [37] A studio EP, Z, was released on April 8, 2014; the lead single, "Babylon" was accompanied with a music video directed by APLUSFILMZ. [38] To promote Z, SZA performed at several performance showcases at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. [38] SZA made her chart debut in the UK, where Z charted at number thirty two on the R&B Charts, during the week ending April 19, 2014. [39] Z debuted on the US Billboard 200 at number thirty nine, selling 6,980 copies in its opening week; the album also peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B chart. [40]

In May 2014, SZA was planning to embark on a local tour, and also began recording her third EP, A. [41] In July 2014, SZA featured on Kitty Cash's single "Moodring". [42] Later that month, SZA released a collaboration with Jill Scott called "Divinity". [43] On July 11, 2014, SZA released a video for her song "Julia" from Z. [44] In early October, Jhene Aiko tweeted SZA, which led to speculation that the two would be working together. In December SZA and The Internet supported Aiko's "Enter The Void" tour. [45] On November 18, 2014, SZA released a song called "Sobriety". [46]

2015–18: Ctrl and breakthrough

SZA performing in 2015 with label mate Ab-Soul Ab-Soul and SZA - AfroPunk Festival 2015.jpg
SZA performing in 2015 with label mate Ab-Soul

Whilst working on A, now repackaged as her debut album [47] and later retitled Ctrl), SZA began writing songs for other female artists including Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. Along with Rihanna and Tyran Donaldson, SZA co-wrote "Consideration" for Rihanna's album Anti (2016); besides writing, SZA also appeared on the track and later performed "Consideration" with Rihanna live at the 2016 Brit Awards on February 24, 2016. [48] [49]

In January 2017, SZA released "Drew Barrymore", the lead single from her upcoming album Ctrl . [50] On April 28, 2017, SZA signed her first major-label recording contract with RCA Records. [51] [52] On June 9, 2017, SZA released her debut album, Ctrl, to universal acclaim from music critics, scoring an 86 out of 100 rating on Metacritic. [53] Ctrl debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, [54] with 60,000 album-equivalent units, of which 25,000 were pure album sales; the album was supported by several singles, including "Love Galore", which peaked in the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was later certified platinum. [55] Ctrl was ranked as the best album of 2017 by Time . [9]

From August 20 to December 22, 2017, SZA promoted the album on a North American concert tour. [56] SZA opened for the European portion of American rapper Bryson Tiller's "Set It Off Tour" in support of his album True to Self from October 17, 2017, to November 30, 2017, separate from SZA's tour. [57]

In August 2017, SZA collaborated with American pop rock band Maroon 5 on their single "What Lovers Do" from their sixth studio album Red Pill Blues . The single reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. [58] This marked SZA's first top 10 hit as a featured artist on the hot 100. The following month SZA released "Quicksand", which appeared on the soundtrack for HBO's Insecure , [59] and, alongside Khalid and Post Malone, was featured on the remix version of Lorde's single "Homemade Dynamite", from her second studio album Melodrama . [60] Also in 2017, SZA worked on a joint album with Mark Ronson and Tame Impala. [61]

On November 28, 2017, SZA received five Grammy nominations including one for Best New Artist. She received the most nominations of any female artist for the 2018 Awards and was the fourth most nominated artist in total. [62] Despite this, she did not end up winning any of the awards she was nominated for. [63]

In January 2018, SZA featured with Kendrick Lamar on the track "All the Stars", which was released as the lead single to the soundtrack album of the film Black Panther . [64] [65] The single peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and this made SZA's second top 10 hit on the chart, after Maroon 5, "What Lovers Do" which peaked at number 9 on the chart. SZA collaborated with Cardi B on the track "I Do" for the album Invasion of Privacy. [66]

2019: Second studio album

In May 2019, SZA confirmed that her second studio album would spawn the lead single "Brace Urself". [67]


SZA performing in Toronto, Canada on the Ctrl the Tour in August 2017. SZA CTRL Tour Toronto 2017 8 (cropped).jpg
SZA performing in Toronto, Canada on the Ctrl the Tour in August 2017.

SZA's vocal style has been described as taking on the "lilt" of a jazz singer. [68] SZA is known as TDE's first female signee and first singer, which also drew attention during the early stages of her career. [69] According to Marissa G. Muller of Rolling Stone magazine, Rowe's vocals alternate between a "vapory husk and a sky-high falsetto". [70] Jordan Sargent of Pitchfork magazine labelled Rowe's vocals as being "chillwave" and "ethereal". [71] SZA disputes her music being labelled as hip-hop, R&B and pop, stating she often listens to a variety of music including Stevie Nicks, classical jazz, folk, and rap. Further, she said: "when you try to label it [her music], you remove the option for it to be limitless. It diminishes the music.” [72] SZA began writing songs due to being "passionate" about writing, and enjoyed poetry; when writing lyrics, SZA "freestyles" them in order to express whatever comes to her "mind", noting that it does not always make sense to herself. [26] Thematically, SZA's work contains "unravelling lyrics", that touch upon themes of sexuality, nostalgia, and abandonment. [13]

SZA's musical style has been described as "alt R&B". [12] SZA's songs are built over "layers of sliced, delayed, and reversed vocals" and contains "twists and mutates". [28] [13] Reggie Ugwu from Billboard magazine finds her musical style to feature an "agnostic utopia dripping with mood", that straddles the "line between minimalist R&B, '80s synth pop and soul". [5] Rowe's music is primarily PBR&B and neo-soul, but has been noted for taking influences from a broad variety of genres including soul, hip hop, minimalist R&B, cloud rap, ethereal R&B, witch house and chillwave elements. [12] Michael Madden described SZA's musical genre as being "agnosticism corresponds", noting that her work is not just one style of music and is versatile, noting the musical style is not just "R&B, pop, soul, or one thing at all". [73]

SZA listens to Ella Fitzgerald for vocal influence, [74] and has said that Lauryn Hill is one of her personal influences. [14] SZA also cites a wide range of musical artists as influences, [26] including Meelah, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, LFO, Macy Gray, Common, Björk, Jamiroquai, and "a lot of Wu, Nas, Mos Def, Hov". [1] Speaking on her influences, SZA said: "[My] personal influences came from dancing with American Ballet Theatre and doing pieces to Björk [music]. That's the only time I had really any outside influence to music. So, the people that I fell in love with on a musical level were always much older. Jamiroquai is just, like, the shit for me." [15] During an interview, SZA said she is less inspired by strictly music, and more inspired by creating art in general; she has looked up to people who were not "typical artists" including her "favorite gymnast, ice-skater, saxophonist, painter, or movie director," continuing to say she was particularly inspired by film director Spike Lee. [15] During an interview with W , SZA spoke on her style influences, saying a large amount of her style inspiration comes from movies, including Wes Anderson films, praising his use of "pantone color palette" and that she "would love to dress like a character from Moonrise Kingdom . Or perhaps Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic ." [75] Along with her music, SZA's image has been compared to neo-soul artists Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. [69] SZA's hair became a point of interest during the early stages of her career and she discussed it in interviews with Vogue and Harper's Bazaar . [14] During her performances, SZA tends to wear "free-flowing" clothes that are easy to move around in and has also been known to wear pajamas or baggy clothing onstage. [76]





Awards and nominations

See also

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