SZA Biography - Biography
SZA

SZA Biography

Singer, Songwriter (1990–)
SZA is a Grammy-nominated R&B artist who earned notice through her EPs, before dropping her critically acclaimed debut album, 'Ctrl,' in 2017.

Who Is SZA?

Born Solána Rowe on November 8, 1990, R&B artist SZA garnered industry buzz through independently released work, before teaming with Top Dawg Entertainment for her third EP, Z. She hit the big time in 2017 with her first full-length album, Ctrl, which spawned the singles "Love Galore," "The Weekend" and "Broken Clocks," en route to platinum certification. The Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter has also collaborated with such popular acts as Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Kendrick Lamar.

SZA Photo

SZA attends Black Girls Rock! 2017 at NJPAC on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. 

SZA EPs and Album

'See.SZA.Run' and 'S'

After dropping out of college, SZA independently released a pair of EPs, See.SZA.Run (2012) and S (2013). The former drew praise for its atmospheric track "Country," with The Guardian comparing her to R&B heavyweights Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, while the latter, which featured the celestial "Ice Moon" and such unusual touches as samples from the horror flick Rosemary's Baby, cemented her standing as an artist to watch.

'Z'

Now with Top Dawg Entertainment, SZA continued developing her trippy, genre-defying sound with her third EP, Z (2014). Tracks included "Babylon," with label mate Kendrick Lamar, "Child's Play," with Chance the Rapper, the soul throwback "Sweet November" and the '80s-tinged "Julia." Underscoring her shift to mainstream recognition, Z cracked the Billboard Top 40 upon its release.

'Ctrl'

Four years after her last collection of original material, SZA finally unveiled her first full-length album, Ctrl, in June 2017. Debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, en route to platinum certification, Ctrl wowed critics with the depth of its creator's storytelling. From her reflections on not being good enough on "Drew Barrymore," to her tale of toxic romance alongside Travis Scott on "Love Galore," to her sultry ruminations on sharing a lover on "The Weekend," SZA showed she was unafraid to mine her raw emotions. Her stellar efforts on the album resulted in five Grammy nominations, though, to the surprise of many, she left the 2018 ceremony empty-handed.

Collaborations with Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Others

After initially surfacing as a guest on tracks by TDE label mates like Isaiah Rashad, SZA found her vocal abilities in high demand from other artists. She teamed with Jill Scott for "Divinity" in 2014, before going on to co-write and perform on Rihanna's "Consideration" in 2016. SZA then enhanced her mainstream recognition by collaborating with Maroon 5 for 2017's "What Lovers Do," followed by her joint effort with Lamar on "All the Stars," from the Black Panther soundtrack in early 2018.

Instagram and Twitter

SZA gives her millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter what they came for, offering up photos of her unique fashion sense, snippets of wisdom and playful banter with other artists like Erykah Badu. And, reflecting her songwriting style, she isn't afraid to share her honest feelings on social media, using Twitter in October 2016 to famously announce she was quitting over frustrations with getting her album off the ground.

Joining TDE

In 2011 SZA was working for the clothing label 10Deep, which assigned her to hand out merchandise at a Lamar concert. A friend was playing some of SZA's music, capturing the attention of Top Dawg Entertainment co-president Terrence "Punch" Henderson. The two stayed in touch, and after SZA began generating buzz with the release of her first two EPs, TDE stepped in to sign her the label's first female artist in 2013.

SZA on Tour

SZA found herself continuously on the road in the wake of her attention-grabbing debut album. After touring both the U.S. and Europe for much of the second half of 2017, she headed Down Under for the FOMO music festival in early 2018, before joining her TDE label mates for The Championship Tour that spring.

Sza's Voice

Along with the piercing honesty of her lyrics, SZA has been lauded for her voice, which has been described in such ways as "ethereal" and "dripping with honey." However, the demands of constant touring took its toll on her money-maker, as she announced she was pulling out of The Championship Tour in May 2018 due to swollen vocal chords. She also gave fans a scare when she tweeted that her vocal chords were permanently damaged, but that turned out not to be the case, as she returned to the stage for the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware in mid-June.

Height and Hair

SZA stands 5'4", a measurement that would skyrocket if taking into her account her famously voluminous head of hair. The artist says she began going for the look after shedding her hijab in middle school, enduring a stint with illness and a medication that caused her hair to fall out, before recovering to let it all flow free once again.

Net Worth

The artist's net worth is reported to be $3 million, an amount largely built from the commercial successes that followed the release of Ctrl.

SZA Pronunciation and Meaning

SZA is pronounced "Sizza." The name comes from a division of Islam's supreme alphabet, which assigns meanings to letters of the Roman alphabet. S stands for sovereign or savior, Z is for zig-zag and A is for Allah.

AKA Solána Rowe

SZA was born Solána Imani Rowe on November 8, 1990, in St. Louis, Missouri, though she primarily grew up outside of New York City, in the suburb of Maplewood, New Jersey.

Parents and Early Influences

Rowe's parents shared similar career paths as media executives — her father was employed by CNN and her mother by AT&T — but differed with their personal faith. Her father determined that the children would be raised Orthodox Muslim, and her Christian mother followed along, even attending a mosque for prayers.

Along with sending his daughter to a Muslim preparatory school, the elder Rowe set rules for no television or radio, limiting her musical exposure to his collection of jazz greats like Miles Davis and Billie Holiday. However, SZA got a taste of contemporary music when her older half-sister came to live with the family, bringing her own collection that included the Wu-Tang Clan and Lil Jon. Her interests were further piqued after gaining access to a gymnastics teammate's iPod, which included more hip-hop from Common and Mos Def, as well as the unusual vocals of Björk.

As one of the few Muslims in Maplewood, SZA was subjected to verbal abuse in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She subsequently abandoned her traditional religious clothing and attempted to blend in with her peers, even becoming a cheerleader at Columbia High School.

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