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How Lizzo Took A 3-Month Vow Of Silence That Threw Her Career Into Overdrive

Lizzo

Lizzo is the physical manifestation of the iconic African-American proverb: If you don't know, now you know, playa.

Although Lizzo initially emerged on the music scene in 2013 with her debut project, Lizzobanger, she is just starting to get the traction she deserves. By now, I'm sure you've seen this flute-playing, soul snatching goddess on the internet in one way or another, and after her recent collaborations with industry giants like Gucci Mane and Missy Elliott, Lizzo is making a statement that she's here to stay. Not only does she have the confidence of 12 Beyonces, but she has the soul and talent to back it up.

Amy Lombard

There's a lot of things we can learn from this body-positive soul sister, and in honor of her 3rd studio album release, Cuz I Love You, here are four things Lizzo taught me about self-love:

Be Quiet

Sometimes strength comes in the form of silence. Life can be noisy and things can get messy, but if you have the power to be still, you can ultimately weather the storm. Take it from Lizzo, who after losing her father spent three months without speaking. For nearly 90 days, Lizzo communicated through shrugs and only opened her mouth to sing songs from Beyonce's legendary B-Day album, and eat grapefruits and chocolate bars. During that time period, Lizzo explained that she went through a serious transformation that ultimately inspired her to take her career more seriously.

"Something happened... that just sent me over the edge. I dropped out, flew to Denver for summer vacation, went crazy and decided to become a singer."

This bold move ultimately paid off and proved to Lizzo that sometimes real power is having the ability to hold your tongue. She continued:

"My mom is still like - anytime I'm quiet she's like hey, Melissa! Don't go nowhere! [I went] crazy... in a good way though, because I got inspired. That was a summer of metamorphosis."

Lizzo reminds us that the key to maximizing your true potential could lie in shutting the hell up sometimes! Note taken.

Get Professional Help

Thanks to programs like Silence The Shame and Eustress, Inc., the stigma around therapy in the black community is changing. People of color are finally talking about mental health and taking steps toward seeking professional help. Artists including but not limited to Big Sean, Janelle Monae, and Keri Hilson have opened up about their struggles with depression and anxiety and proved that celebrities need therapy too, and Lizzo is no exception. She told Rolling Stone that initially, finding a therapist was difficult, but ultimately, getting help allowed her to become a better entertainer. The 30-year-old musician explained:

"That was really scary. But going on that journey of being vulnerable with someone who I didn't know, and then learning how to be vulnerable with people that I do know, gave me the courage to be vulnerable as a vocalist. I was so afraid of sounding like that for so long. It's a raw part of me that I didn't allow myself to celebrate."

Walk In Your Truth

As someone who is truly indecisive, decisions as small as what to eat for lunch have the power to throw my entire day into a state of chaos. #LizzoTaughtMe that no matter how big or small, if you make a choice based on your truth, you can't lose. As women, well, as humans in general, we spend so much time trying to convince others of what we have, that we forget who we are. The "Tempo" singer gave us the remedy to how to overcome that way of thinking.

"When I have to make decisions, I always choose honesty and I always stay true to myself, because I know at the end of the day that is what's going to remain. That is what's going to be the legend: That I was true to myself and that I honored every person by staying truthful to them."

Love Your Body, That’s What It’s Made For

No matter what your size or body shape, we're all guilty of "I'm too". I'm too short, I'm too tall, I'm too fat, I'm too small. I'm willing to bet that there is no one on this earth who is truly immune to the "I'm too" disease, but according to Lizzo, the cure is self-love. It doesn't matter how beautiful the product is if you aren't aware of its function and the same is true when it comes to our bodies. Our bodies weren't made for the enjoyment or speculation of others, they were made to be loved, and Lizzo reminds us that we all have a body worth loving. The entertainer told Teen Vogue:

"We should love ourselves first. We should look at our bodies as vehicles for success, and not a signifier of who you are, how good your p*ssy is, if dudes like you or not, or if you can fit certain clothes...that's not what your body's for."

Blame It On My Juice, Baby

As the first plus-size black woman to be on the cover of Playboy Magazine, Lizzo proved that her juice ain't nothing to play with. Although the body-positive maven is now an expert in self-love, her mindset wasn't always this way. In an interview with NPR in 2016, Lizzo explained that unlocking a positive self-image came with accepting her juice for all it was rather than getting caught up in sipping on someone else's.

"I remember one day being like, 'This is it.' Twenty-some-odd years of me believing that one day I can wake up and be some other girl. It's like, you're not gonna wake up and be bigger or smaller or lighter or darker; your hair's not gonna suddenly grow down past your knees. You're going to look this way for the rest of your life. And you have to be OK with that."

Lizzo taught me that it's okay to be quiet because stillness is strength. She reminds us all to walk in our truth at our own tempo and no matter what size or shape we are, to not be ashamed of the ferocity of the juice we possess.

Featured image by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

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A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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