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Who is SZA, the Glastonbury headliner outselling Adele in the US

Glastonbury headliner SZA is a voice to remember as she takes to the stage on Sunday night


SZA at Variety Hitmakers, Presented By Sony Audio held at Nya West on December 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Images)© Christopher Polk
Bryony Gooch
US Writer
June 30, 2024
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With songs like "Supermodel" and "Kill Bill", SZA has managed to captivate millions with her incredibly personal songwriting and lilting, powerful voice. Now, she's taking to the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury.

If you haven't heard of SZA, real name Solána Imani Rowe, you may be missing out on one of the most groundbreaking musicians in the industry presently. An active musician since 2011, her critically acclaimed albums regularly top annual rankings - and more recently they became commercially significant.

When SZA released her second studio album, SOS, she soon broke a seven year record as she held the longest Number 1 spot on the US Billboard chart since Adele's 25.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 25: SZA performs onstage at Spotify’s Night of Music party during VidCon 2022 at Anaheim Convention Center on June 25, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Spotify)© Anna Webber
Meet SZA - your next favorite songstress

Here's all you need to know about the talented songstress.

Her rise in the industry

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Recording artist SZA and TDE CEO Anthony 'Top Dawg' Tiffith attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)© Christopher Polk
SZA with TDE CEO Anthony 'Top Dawg' Tiffith

SZA signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, joining label mates such as Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q. She was the label's first female artist - an outlier as a singer from the East Coast.

She said of her difference: "I'm like this random girl from a small town and I annunciate all my words and I wear dirty Chucks and my hair is never combed; I don’t think they knew what to make of me." 

"At first, I think they looked at me like an alien or something. 'Your music is weird, you're weird, but we like you.'"

Star-studded collaborators

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 03: Doja Cat and SZA winners of the Best Pop Duo Group Performance Award for 'Kiss Me More' pose in the winners photo room during the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)© David Becker
SZA and Doja Cat

The songstress has written songs for the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna, even featuring on the latter's acclaimed Anti album with the song "Consideration". Back in 2014, she supported Coldplay's Ghost Stories Tour. 

She's since featured on songs with Drake, Doja Cat, Kendrick Lamar, Maroon 5, Travis Scott, Phoebe Bridgers, and Justin Bieber.

She was almost a gymnastics star

SZA performs onstage during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 13, 2018 in Indio, California© Kevin Winter
SZA performs onstage during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 13, 2018 in Indio, California

As well as being a talented singer songwriter, SZA trained as a gymnast for 13 years and considered training for the Olympics.

"I was hardcore USA Gymnastics," she told Complex. "When I was a sophomore in high school in 2005, I was 5th in the nation as a gymnast. The extreme exercise stunts your growth, you're overexerting your body so much it doesn’t grow." 

"Your period doesn't come till super late. So I was like 4'9 forever. Once I got lazy and didn’t want to practice and got into other shit, I grew. Now I’m 5'4."

Her relationship with Drake

Drake accepts the Best Rap Song award for 'God's Plan' onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California© Getty
Drake accepts the Best Rap Song award for 'God's Plan' onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California

SZA has a star-studded list of exes, as she dated Drake when she was 18 - a fact he mentions on the track "Mr Right" with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin. He claimed they dated in 2008, when she would have been 17, and the songstress set the record straight that it was actually 2009 as she "didn’t want anybody thinking anything underage or creepy was happening. Completely innocent. Lifetimes ago."

Songwriting prowess

Earlier in 2024, she was honored with the Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, an award that goes to young songwriters at the apex of their careers. Previous recipients of the award include Taylor Swift, John Legend, and Ed Sheeran.

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