Lizzo: singer who shot to fame calling out bullies accused of being one

She’s a feminist icon and champion of physique positivity, with lyrics that encourage self-love and empowerment. Personal your curves; dump that man; money these checks – so go the commandments on the esteemed church of Lizzo, the place thousands and thousands of acolytes worship and discover acceptance.

So when information broke this week that the singer and her manufacturing firm, Large Grrrl Large Touring, have been being sued by three former dancers, her followers have been left shocked.

An inventory of accusations by Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez included sexual, spiritual and racial harassment, discrimination, false imprisonment, fat-shaming, and making a hostile work surroundings. Based on the swimsuit, Lizzo allegedly pressured one dancer to the touch a nude performer at a membership in Amsterdam and subjected a number of dancers to an “excruciating” 12-hour audition.

Her dance captain, Shirlene Quigley, was additionally accused of pushing her Christian beliefs on performers and denigrating those that had premarital intercourse.

“The gorgeous nature of how Lizzo and her administration staff handled their performers appears to go in opposition to every thing Lizzo stands for publicly, whereas privately she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in methods that aren’t solely unlawful however completely demoralising,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer mentioned.

In response, Lizzo – contemporary off the again of her globally profitable The Particular Tour – launched a press release calling the claims “sensationalised tales” that have been “as unbelievable as they sound”. “I’m not right here to be checked out as a sufferer, however I additionally know that I’m not the villain that folks and the media have portrayed me to be,” the singer mentioned. The previous couple of days, she added, had been “intestine wrenchingly troublesome and overwhelmingly disappointing”.

Certainly, few accusations might make as a lot of a dent in Lizzo’s model as this one. The 35-year-old has made a reputation for herself as a enjoyable, effervescent performer who encourages kindness and consideration for others. For years, she’s referred to as out bullies and advocated for anybody who’s ever felt discriminated in opposition to or ostracised. She’s supported the Black Lives Matter motion and been such a vocal ally to the LGBTQ+ neighborhood that her followers name themselves Lizzbians. In concert events, she urges individuals to repeat a single mantra: “I’m stunning and I can do something.”

It’s this authenticity that has propelled her to stardom. Throughout her efficiency on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage this 12 months, the crowd belted her anthems back to her with unbridled ardour, together with lyrics corresponding to: “In case no one instructed you right now, you’re particular”. Lizzo made her followers really feel seen and heard, her picture gracing journal covers together with Vogue, Elle and Vanity Fair marked a brand new period within the leisure and vogue trade, the place skinny wasn’t at all times the precursor to success.

Fans hold a banner at a Lizzo concert in Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Followers maintain a banner at a Lizzo live performance in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. {Photograph}: Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

However the 44-page lawsuit filed in Los Angeles listed a collection of sobering allegations, together with Davis’s accusation that Lizzo instructed her she appeared “much less dedicated” to her position, which she understood as a “thinly veiled” remark about her weight.

Since then, a lot of Lizzo’s ex-colleagues, together with one other former dancer, Courtney Hollinquest, former artistic director Quinn Wilson, and the film-maker Sophia Nahli Allison have come ahead in assist of the lawsuit. On Instagram, Allison – who was employed by Lizzo to direct her 2022 documentary Love, Lizzo – described the singer as “smug, self-centred and unkind”. She claimed Lizzo “creates an especially poisonous and hostile working surroundings and undermines the work, labour and authority of different black and brown girls within the course of.”

Lizzo’s rise has been meteoric, however she got here from humble beginnings. Born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, she was the youngest of three kids and grew up first in Detroit after which within the suburbs of Houston, earlier than shifting to Minnesota. In Detroit she was surrounded by singers within the church based by her great-grandparents, the place her mom, Shari Johnson-Jefferson, usually carried out.

Lizzo’s love of music began when she discovered to play the flute in fifth grade, inspired by her father, Michael Jefferson, who wished her to be a recent flautist. With this steering, she attended the college of Houston on a music scholarship learning classical flute, and was drawn to composers corresponding to Tchaikovsky, Kalinnikov and Shostakovich. However two years into school she dropped out after her father died, saying she felt like she had misplaced her goal. She thought-about learning flute on the Paris Conservatoire earlier than selecting to pursue rap as a substitute – dwelling and sleeping in her automobile for a 12 months whereas she made music in a hip hop group and carried out native reveals.

This era following the demise of her father contained “traumatic experiences”, the singer has beforehand mentioned. She’s additionally confessed that it took her a decade to study to like herself, following years of internalising criticisms. “My self-hatred acquired so dangerous that I used to be fantasising about being different individuals. However you may’t stay your life attempting to be someone else,” she mentioned.

Lizzo launched two studio albums, Lizzobangers (2013) and Large Grrrl Small World (2015) earlier than signing with Good Life Recording Firm and Atlantic Data. It was with the discharge of her first major-label EP, Coconut Oil (2016), and her third studio album, Cuz I Love You (2019), that she remodeled right into a family title.

The accolades flew in after that. Cuz I Love You peaked at No 4 on the US Billboard 100. Her 2017 single Fact Hurts turned a sleeper hit two years after its preliminary launch, topping the Billboard 100 and turning into the longest-leading solo tune by a feminine rapper. Different hits included 2016’s Good As Hell and 2021’s Rumours that includes Cardi B. Her 2022 single About Rattling Time (from fourth album Particular) reached No 1 on the Billboard 100 and made Lizzo the primary black feminine singer since Whitney Houston in 1994 to win the Grammy award for report of the 12 months.

In whole, she has 4 Grammys (on the 2020 ceremony obtained essentially the most nominations for any artist that 12 months). Different awards embrace a Billboard music award, a BET award and two Soul Practice music awards. In 2019, Time journal topped Lizzo entertainer of the 12 months. She’s additionally ventured into appearing, together with a supporting position in Hustlers, and hosts the Amazon Prime actuality collection Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Large Grrrls – a dancing competitors that received three Emmys final 12 months.

Lizzo’s web value stands at $40m and he or she has 13 million followers on Instagram. “She’s not a strolling inspirational infographic,” wrote comedian Samantha Irby in Time. “She is aware of that a part of being sufficient means acknowledging your imperfections.” However, for the primary time, it’s unsure whether or not acknowledging imperfections can be sufficient to save lots of the singer from impending harm.

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