SZA has been making big moves in the music industry all year and her efforts have not gone unnoticed.
The 28-year-old singer from New Jersey just nabbed five Grammy nominations for her mainstream debut Ctrl. It’s further proof that she’s a force to be reckoned with.
The sultry singer delivers raw, emotive lyrics on everything from being a black woman to love and sex. She scored more nominations than any other woman this year, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song, Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Rap/Sung Performance.
Here are 6 facts you may not know about the year’s breakout star:
What’s in a name?
SZA was born Solána Imani Rowe, but there’s some major meaning behind her stage name, which comes from The Supreme Alphabet. SZA is short for “Sovereign Zig-Zag Allah” or “Savior Zig-Zag Allah.”
Her skills transcend the studio.
SZA may have some serious singing skills, but she’s also an award-winning athlete. She spent 13 years as a competitive gymnast and was ranked the fifth best gymnast in the U.S. as a sophomore in high school.
She comes from good stock.
SZA’s parents are pretty impressive professionals. Her father was an executive producer at CNN and her mother was an exec at AT&T. While her father insisted she listen to classical jazz, she got her first taste of mainstream music when she found an iPod full of Jay-Z, Common, Nas, and Outkast at gymnastic camp.
SZA attended Muslim Prep-School daily after “regular” high school and was raised as an Orthodox Muslim. She stopped wearing her hijab after facing discrimination following 9/11 but is still a practicing Muslim.
She’s not really a newbie.
SZA may just be getting on the music world’s radar but she has been honing her craft for years. In 2012, she self-released her debut EP, See.SZA.Run. and followed it up with her second EP, S, in 2013. By October of that year,she was signed to Top Dawg Entertainment and hit the road with Little Dragon. In 2014, 50 Cent was featured on the remix of her song, ” Teen Spirit” and she has also collaborated with Jill Scott, Chance The Rapper, and Kitty Cash. She has also written for Beyonce, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj among others.
She almost quit the music game.
After getting signed to TDE, SZA spent two years working on her album and almost called it quits. In 2016, she penned (and later deleted) a tweet that had fans worried she was hanging up her mic. “I was scared. I’ve never sold anything before,” she told the LA Times. “Why can’t I just be like Chance [the Rapper, who eschews commercially releasing his music]?”
Thank Gawd she had a change of heart.
If her five Grammy nominations aren’t enough to get you excited, there’s even more good news on the horizon. The R&B singer will make her Saturday Night Live debut next month:
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) November 27, 2017