(Credit: Lizzo / Press)

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Why Lizzo is the voice of her generation

It’s pretty rare that one solitary vocalist can speak for a peer group, but that’s exactly what Lizzo has done, by creating a body of work that empowers women and people of colour as the important voices society has sidelined for much too long. In her own way she creates a body of work that is as important, but as idiosyncratic as David Bowie’s 1970s work. But behind the trappings and the flourishes comes a voice that’s deeply honest in its resolve, celebrating the virtues of a group who are commonly underrepresented by the world’s music presses.

“I don’t think my dad wanted to tell us about the gruesome murders that happen to Black people all the time,” she said. “But Black parents have this responsibility to let their children know what can happen. They taught me at a very young age how America treats Black people. How it treats Black women. And I saw very quickly how we treat fat people.”

Weight, girth, gender, age, colour. Five taboos in one tidy package. Art needs great resolve to single out the conquest, and it needs fire and strength to salute the passion, panache and persuasion to create conviction and courage. What the songs needed was a sense of place and purpose, tying it all together under one creative package. Singing is a form of of creative expression, especially when it comes from a place of tremendous truth and authenticity. Lizzo comes out as a singer in the journey of a lifetime, hiding from the turbulence of the world at large, showcasing a vibrato that resonates from the bottom of the earth to the top of the heavens. Her standout track ‘My Skin’ offers an overview of a woman in the brink of a changing America, where people are murdered on street corners based on their appearance.

Skin colour also forms the backbone of the jaunty single ‘Juice’ a funk-flavoured ballad that was performed on both The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! Lizzo’s appeal is trans-Atlantic, as she went up against Charli XCX’s soaring falsetto on the British singer’s fiery ‘Blame It on Your Love.’. ‘Truth Hurts’ wound up becoming one of Lizzo’s eight Grammy Nominations at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. Although it was met with relatively slow success, Lizzo wound up as the first Black solo female R&B singer to claim the top spot on the Hot 100 since Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds.’

Then there was her appearance in Hustlers, a film that also starred Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, actresses of colour who were showcasing their view of America in a changing world that was spinning around them. The film is plush with grandeur and glory, giving the film a sense of reality that makes it one of the more interesting films currently on Netflix. The film is an exhibition of diversity and change, creating a new form of potential for people all over the world. It was another emblem of colour-blind casting jumping over another hill, as the characters demonstrated a kinship with their counterparts around the world. 

Lizzo’s desire to challenge conventions and norms makes her art brave and bold, making it a less predictable form of music for the radios to latch onto. That it made such a splash on the pop charts shows the power of the work as a means of communication and presentation. As it happens, the singer’s desire to show herself as a voice of a generation is a brave responsibility for someone so young and so early in her career. 

The singer didn’t expect this level of success so early in her trajectory.”I was like, ‘OK, what can I do with this?” she surmises. “How can I make the best of this? I wasn’t supposed to survive. I wasn’t supposed to make it this far. I wasn’t supposed to be a millionaire. I wasn’t supposed to be a sex symbol. I wasn’t supposed to be on the cover of PEOPLE, but I am. So how can I make this worthwhile? How can I make this not just a flash in the pan?’ ”

PEOPLE should show more women of colour, and Lizzo provides a voice for black women, as well as women who do not subsribe to the weight size fashion magazines normally dictate. There’s plenty of room for change in this world, just as there is plenty of time to change in this world. The world needs more voices that do not subscribe to caucasian norms, and Lizzo has opened the bridge to a new world where everyone has a chance to showcase their true voice and sing. Lizzo has carved a new form of music, giving a chance for everyone to sing and be happy. Long may she continue to do so. 

Stream Lizzo’s ‘Juice’ below.