If you’ve never heard of SZA, it’s about time you get acquainted! The 27-year-old R&B singer is the most nominated female artist at the 2018 Grammy Awards — which airs this Sunday — thanks to the release of her album, CTRL. She’s up for five nods including Best New Artist, Best R&B song, and Best R&B Performance. Get to know more about the New Jersey native below!
SZA is not her real name
As you may have guessed, SZA — pronounced “Siz-zah” — is not her given name. SZA is short for “Sovereign Zig-Zag Allah” or “Savior Zig-Zag Allah,” and even though people tend to pronounce it wrong, she’s not sweating it. “That’s fine,” she told InStyle nonchalantly last week. “I don’t need them to.”
SZA performs on Saturday Night Live in December 2017.
She was influenced by her experiences growing up black and Muslim in America
In an interview with People on Jan. 24, the “Doves in the Wind” singer opened up about what it was like being raised in The Garden State. “There’s something different about growing up black and Muslim, especially in New Jersey,” said the singer, who moved from Missouri when she was a toddler. “It’s like when I left the mosque and I left my dad I felt unprotected but I also felt a weird sense of pride, like I was involved in this other way of living that was cool to me. On Halloween, because we don’t celebrate it, my dad would drive me somewhere, anywhere different. Like Little Italy in New York to walk around and teach me all about the food and culture. And I never missed Halloween. Now that I’m an adult I notice that upbringing in my fundamentals, in the way that I move and think. It gives me a lot of pride.”
She attended the same high school as Lauryn Hill
“I think it’s a hefty tag,” SZA said of the comparisons many have made between the two artists. “We’re completely different. But that hometown Maplewood energy is contagious. It’s how they make us. The stuff that she sings about and raps about are things that I experienced, too. I relate more to her Jersey essence than to the queen lyricist that she is.”
She’s the face of GAP’s “Logo Remix” Campaign
SZA — who stars in the campaign alongside Metro Boomin — said of her new gig, “When I think of Gap, I think of this ad I saw growing up where the girl was kind of goth, dressed up like she was from the movie The Craft. It’s genius. It was like a streetwear brand that went mainstream.”
She’s still getting used to fame
“I’m just taking steps to try and balance myself,” she told the mag. “I literally have no time, so I’m not used to that. I don’t have a primary doctor, a primary hairstylist, a primary anything. I don’t even have a primary address! Everything is just whenever I can find one. It’s a lot of change, and I’m a creature of habit. I’d had the same phone number since eighth grade until it leaked on Twitter around Thanksgiving and I had to change it!”
The 60th Annual Grammy Awards airs Sunday, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.