Lizzo is one of today’s most versatile acts in the music business, showing off her over-the-top theatrical style while singing, rapping, and acting. Despite her immense talent, Lizzo has only recently crossed that threshold into superstardom, which might leave people wondering about her pre-fame past and whether or not Lizzo went to college.
Lizzo did go to college, but she did not graduate. After the untimely death of her father, Lizzo dropped out of school and ultimately moved to Minneapolis to pursue a career in music.
Read more below about Lizzo’s college education, the surprising subject she majored in, and what she had intended to do after graduating instead of being a famous singer.
Houston and High School
Though Lizzo was born in Detroit, her family relocated to Houston, Texas before she started middle school. Though Lizzo grew up surrounded by music, her first love was not actually singing, but playing flute.
Lizzo began playing the flute at school in Houston, but unlike most students forced to take an extracurricular class, Lizzo fell in love with the woodwind instrument. Discussing her dedication to the instrument, she said, “I remember in the fifth grade, I just wanted to be really good. I was, like, ‘I want to be really good at the flute. Everybody else is so bad.’ And it was so hard to be good at it. It’s a very difficult instrument. I became, like, obsessed with being good.”
A self-proclaimed “band geek,” Lizzo attended band camp and practiced learning to play songs by ear, in addition to reading the sheet music for the pieces she performed. Lizzo joined the marching band at Alief Elsik High School and began studying with the principal flautist at the Houston Ballet in her junior year.
Dreams of the Paris Symphony
By the time she graduated high school, Lizzo had decided playing flute was what she wanted to do with her life. She attended the University of Houston on a scholarship where she majored in classical flute performance. While in college, she was also a member of the Spirit of Houston Marching Band.
You can see Lizzo’s impressive flute playing skills in the YouTube video below.
Lizzo had lofty goals for her post-college life, where she anticipated moving to Paris to further hone her skills, then join a symphony. Speaking of the ultimately waylaid plans, the singer said, “I was going to study flute at the Paris Conservatory, and I was going to really just, you know, wait in line for that first chair. I saw a life of concert black and Boston Pops and traveling the world. And when that didn’t pan out for me, I was very depressed. I was very sad.”
In a tragic turn of events, Lizzo’s father passed away in 2009, during Lizzo’s junior year at the University of Houston. Unable to cope with his passing, Lizzo dropped out of college, describing herself as depressed and without purpose.
Dropout Turned Diva
Without the security of school or a scholarship, money was tight and Lizzo dealt with homelessness, living out of her car, for a period of time following dropping out of school. Eventually Lizzo moved to Minneapolis to pursue her career as a performer.
After arriving in Minneapolist, Lizzo’s star grew steadily over the next few years and she ultimately shot to international fame with the release of her third studio album, Cuz I Love You, in 2019. The album was embraced by critics and was nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
Though Lizzo did not graduate from the University of Houston, both the school and playing flute are near and dear to her heart. Lizzo still routinely plays the flute during her live performances and she’s nicknamed her flute “Sasha,” and it even has its own Instagram account.
Not only that, but Lizzo has gone back to visit the University of Houston since she’s become a star, taking time to visit the band during her trip. Though she may not have a degree now, given she’s one of the university’s most successful students, it seems like an honorary degree might be in Lizzo’s future.