Larsson in May 2019
Zara Maria Larsson
16 December 1997
Zara Maria Larsson (/ /, Swedish: [ˈsɑ̂ːra ˈlɑ̌ːʂɔn] (listen); born 16 December 1997) is a Swedish singer and songwriter. At the age of 10, she achieved national fame in Sweden for winning the 2008 season of the talent show Talang, the Swedish version of British TV's Got Talent. Four years later, in 2012, Larsson signed with the record label TEN Music Group and subsequently released her debut compilation recording, the extended play Introducing, in January 2013.
Larsson's first original song, "Uncover", topped the music charts in Scandinavia: Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. In February 2013, "Uncover" was certified Platinum by Universal Music Sweden. In July 2013, Introducing was certified 3× Platinum in the country. Larsson signed a three-year contract with Epic Records in the United States in April 2013. In 2016, she performed at the opening and closing ceremonies for UEFA Euro in France.
Larsson's second studio album, So Good, was released on 17 March 2017 and entered at number seven on the UK Albums Chart. The record was her international breakthrough, producing global number ones such as "Lush Life", "Never Forget You", "Ain't My Fault", and "Symphony", a collaboration with Clean Bandit. Following the album's success, Larsson toured with Clean Bandit and Ed Sheeran and released a slew of singles, including the European hits "Ruin My Life" (2018) and "Like It Is" (2020).
Zara Maria Larsson was born at Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, Stockholm County, Sweden, to Agnetha and Anders Larsson. In an interview with Svenska Dagbladet, she said that she was born "dead" due to a lack of oxygen from nuchal cord. Larsson grew up in Tallkrogen in Enskede, south of Stockholm. Her mother is a nurse and her father is an officer. She has a 3-year younger sister, Hanna, who is also a singer and a member of the band Lennix.
Zara sang everywhere and often when she was young. Her first inspiration was Carola Häggkvist after getting her first album from her mother, which was a Carola album. She obsessively began impersonating Carola in every way, as best as she could. She then got amazed by Whitney Houston after receiving Whitney: The Greatest Hits.
Larsson went to Gubbängsskolan for primary school, but in her third grade transferred to the Royal Swedish Ballet School and studied until age 15. Afterwards she went to Kulturama, an art school in Stockholm. She described that the new environment quickly made her much more aware of the world, social issues, and gender patterns, which increasingly came to impress in her public role. In a 2015 interview, Larsson said that she was accepted into the Adolf Fredrik's Music School for junior high school, but declined because she did not want to sing in a choir.
2008–2011: Career beginnings
Larsson won the 2008 season of Talang, the Swedish adaptation of Got Talent, at the age of 10, winning 500,000 kronor. "My Heart Will Go On", the song she sang in the final, originally sung by Celine Dion, was later released that year as Larsson's debut single, charting at the official Swedish Singles Chart, Sverigetopplistan, for six consecutive weeks and peaking there at number seven for one week.
Between December 2009 and January 2010, Zara participated in a reality TV series called Jag ska bli stjärna (English: "I shall become a star") where she and other young Swedish talents got help on the difficult road to international fame and success. She was managed by Laila Bagge, and they flew to Los Angeles in the United States where they visited and talked with Disney and the three big record label companies—Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group—but she did not get a contract offer anywhere, which Zara later attributed to her age at that time.
2012–2014: Breakthrough with 1
Larsson signed with TEN Music Group in 2012 to record her debut compilation recording. The recording, the extended play (EP) Introducing, was leaked on 9 December 2012 through a music video of "Uncover" on YouTube. The five-song EP was released in Scandinavia on 21 January 2013, consisting exclusively of original songs. "Uncover" was released as the EP's lead single. It peaked at number one on both the Sverigetopplistan and DigiListan charts, as well as reaching number one in Norway and peaking at number three in Denmark, and by 25 February 2013, the song was certified Platinum in Sweden by Universal Music Sweden as a result of the song having received over five million streams. The song entered the Svensktoppen track lists. In July 2013, at Sommarkrysset in Gröna Lund, she received a 3× Platinum award for Introducing for selling over 120,000 copies in Sweden.
On 27 March 2013, Larsson's next EP was revealed through a music video of "She's Not Me (Pt. 1)" on YouTube. The five-song EP, Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself, was released in Scandinavia on 5 July 2013. "She's Not Me" (consisting of "She's Not Me (Pt. 1)" and "She's Not Me (Pt. 2)") was released as a double-single on 25 June 2013. On 3 April 2013, Larsson revealed on her blog that she had signed a three-year contract with Epic Records in the United States. On 11 December 2013, Larsson performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo. On 1 October 2014, Larsson released her debut studio album 1, including the songs "Uncover", "Bad Boys" and "She's Not Me" (Pt. 1 and Pt. 2), in Scandinavia. The album went Platinum in Sweden. Larsson was an opening act for British singer Cher Lloyd's I Wish Tour.
2015–2017: So Good and international success
On 5 June 2015, Larsson released the single "Lush Life" from her upcoming second studio album. The song became her second number one single and was certified 4× Platinum in Sweden. The song reached the top five in 18 countries and got certified Platinum in 16 countries.
On 22 July 2015, Larsson released her collaboration with British singer MNEK, "Never Forget You", the second single from her upcoming album. The song reached number one in Sweden, number three in Australia, and number five in the United Kingdom. The song was certified Platinum in Sweden after two weeks.
On 1 September 2016, Larsson released "Ain't My Fault", the third single taken from her upcoming album. On 22 October 2016, Larsson was named one of Time's "30 Most Influential Teens of 2016". She released "I Would Like", the fourth single from her upcoming album, on 11 November 2016. It peaked at number two in the United Kingdom and at number four in Sweden.
In January 2017, Larsson released "So Good", featuring American rapper Ty Dolla Sign. The single served as the fifth single from her second album of the same name, which was released on 17 March 2017 as her first international album. The album features other collaborations with Wizkid and Clean Bandit titled "Sundown" and "Symphony" respectively. The latter track was released as a single on the same date and became Larsson's fifth number one single in her home country and first number one single in the United Kingdom. The album became her second number one album in Sweden and peaked in the top ten in Australia, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.
On 12 May 2017, Larsson released a music video for "Don't Let Me Be Yours" as the sixth single from So Good, with "Only You" being released as the seventh single from the album on 11 August 2017.
2017–present: Upcoming third studio album
In September 2017, Larsson announced that she had started work on her third studio album, saying in an interview she had written two new songs with MNEK. On 11 December 2017, Larsson once again performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, this time alongside American singer John Legend.
In September 2018, Larsson announced the lead single from her third studio album, "Ruin My Life". She released the song and music video on 18 October 2018. The track was commercially successfully worldwide, being certified at least gold in the US and the UK, while reaching number on in the Netherlands. In 2019, Larsson released the follow-up singles "Don't Worry Bout Me", "Wow", and "All the Time" from her upcoming album.
In January 2019, she was featured on the song "Holding Out for You" by Italian rapper, singer and songwriter Fedez. On 8 November 2019, Larsson's next single, "Invisible", taken from the 2019 movie Klaus, the first original animated feature film released on Netflix, was released on the same day the film was released.
In May 2020 she announced through Twitter, that she's on set for her album cover shoot. She also tweeted, that she is shooting a videos for 2 songs and new album is coming.
In June 2020, Larsson announced single "Love Me Land" through Instagram. She released the song and music video on 10 July 2020. On the same day, an interview with her and Sveriges Radio was published. She announced that new album is coming after summer 2020. She also said: "I am prepared in a completely different way. I have the next song ready, album cover, the video, the album is done. I just feel ready in a different way.".
Personal life, views and other work
Larsson has grown increasingly vocal with her views on other artists and industry workers with whom she works and admires. While she has high praise for performers such as Beyoncé, she is equal in her opposing views of such artists as Dr. Luke and Chris Brown.
In January 2015, Larsson gained a lot of positive attention in Sweden and the United States after posting a picture on her Instagram showing a condom wrapped around her leg and foot in response to boys' concern that their penises were too big to fit a condom around it. She is currently fronting a new campaign from Durex and AIDS organization (RED) promoting sexual health awareness and raising money for AIDS treatment in South Africa.
In June 2015 she came into the spotlight in her home country for openly questioning whether the Bråvalla Festival had any gender perspective whatsoever, as its promotion and performance line-up were highly dominated by male artists. She also wondered why she wasn't presented among the main acts despite being the most popular artist on Spotify of the festival's acts. That same day, Swedish artist Günther wrote on his Facebook profile criticizing Larsson: "You are one of many teenybopper chicks who are world-famous in Sweden and maximally hyped but don’t come with any hits, only a lot of fuss." During her performance at the festival she countered back saying: "Fuck Günther, fuck all woman haters". This led to the hashtag #backazara being created and popularised on social media platforms, where thousands of people, including famous Swedish people, showed their support for Larsson.
In order to increase public understanding of incontinence, she has openly stated that she used a diaper for seven years.
In 2015, Larsson got to plan and host a summer speech to be broadcast on Sveriges Radio, as one of 58 celebrities that year. The 48-minute speech was broadcast live on the P1 channel on 25 July 2015, at 13:00 CET. Her age at the time, 17, made her the youngest such speaker to date, surpassing Robyn and Gina Dirawi at the age of 20. In the speech, she talked about her life, her music career, her feminist views, others' reactions to her, and her feelings about all of it.
On 18 May 2017, Larsson released an H&M collection containing various different garments and accessories. She was involved in the creation process by making decisions about press, colors and fitting. Pink is the common color throughout the entire collection.
The artist with Clean Bandit decided to shoot the video of the hit "Symphony" showing the love story of a black homosexual couple, to contrast with the demonetization by YouTube of some channels on the platform themed LGBT.
In October 2019, Larsson spoke out against Demi Lovato's pro-Israel stance on social media. Lovato commented on an Instagram post that she doesn't "have an opinion" and won't "choose a side" referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Larsson subtweeted saying that if you "don't care", you're "a part of the oppressive side." She later on added that it was not a post directed only to Lovato, but rather to "all the people who think their option to be disengaged in politics is anything but privilege".
Larsson, a self-proclaimed fan of Beyoncé, identifies as a feminist and models herself an "activist" after the singer. She attributes her openness of opinion on social media and within interviews to her parents, claiming: "Both my parents are very educated when it comes to social issues and being woke about what's going on in the world, and they've been very supportive of me having a voice". Larsson says she "has received a lot of hate" for her feminist opinions, including being called a "man hater". She accepts the label and has added that she "doesn't care", because "it doesn't really hurt men if I hate them".
Ties to Huawei
In March 2019, it was announced that Larsson had started a commercial cooperation with Chinese technology company Huawei. Larsson's cooperation with Huawei was criticised by experts on human rights in China and others, who referred to Huawei's close ties to the authoritarian Chinese government and its record on human rights among other things. However, it ended its cooperation with Huawei in 2020. She said that China is not a nice state.
Larsson has cited Beyoncé as her biggest musical influence. Larsson's Swedish influences include Robyn, Seinabo Sey, Sabina Ddumba and her sister Hanna, with her neo soul group Lennixx. Additionally, her international influences include Rihanna, The Weeknd, Jay-Z, Ariana Grande, Jhené Aiko, and Lady Gaga. During her childhood, Larsson's mother listened to Whitney Houston, Etta James, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin.
- So Good World Tour (2017-18)
- Don't Worry Bout Me Tour (2019)
- Cher Lloyd – I Wish Tour (2013–14)
- Clean Bandit – North American Tour (2017)
- Ed Sheeran – ÷ Tour (2019)
Awards and nominations
- Popular music in Sweden
- List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Dance Club Songs chart
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Note: The source confuses the song "Uncover" and the EP Introducing, see photos from the event in which Zara Larsson holds a 3× Platinum disc for her debut EP Introducing.
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I listen to a lot of Beyoncé and a lot of male artists
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