Love Galore may be the title of SZA’s hit single, but it’s also what the r&b star has been receiving since she burst onto the mainstream music scene last year. With famous fans like Kendrick Lamar and Solange, she’s currently the singer everyone is talking about.
In 2017 SZA (pronounced “Siz-zah”, her real name is Solána Imani Rowe) climbed the charts and catapulted to stardom with her sultry debut album Ctrl. Now the 27-year-old singer and newly named star of The Gap’s new Logo Remix campaign, is gearing up for a big Grammy performance while in the running with five nominations at this year’s show, making her the most nominated woman of the night.
“I can’t believe it,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I’m hella grateful. I’m feeling ready.”
Here are five things to know about music’s new sensation.
1. Raised in Maplewood, NJ she attended Columbia High School, the same school as Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill.
“I think it’s a hefty tag,” SZA says of the comparisons many have made between her soulful sound and Hill’s. “We’re completely different. But that hometown Maplewood energy is contagious. It’s how they make us. The stuff that she sings about and raps about are things that I experienced, too. I relate more to her Jersey essence than to the queen lyricist that she is.”
2. She hasn’t completely adjusted to major fame just yet.
“I’m good,” says SZA when asked about life in the glaring spotlight. “I’m just taking steps to try and balance myself. I literally have no time, so I’m not used to that. I don’t have a primary doctor, a primary hairstylist, a primary anything. I don’t even have a primary address! Everything is just whenever I can find one. It’s a lot of change, and I’m a creature of habit. I’d had the same phone number since eighth grade until it leaked on Twitter around Thanksgiving and I had to change it!”
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3. She was heavily shaped by her experiences growing up black and Muslim in America.
“There’s something different about growing up black and Muslim, especially in New Jersey,” says the singer. “It’s like when I left the mosque and I left my dad I felt unprotected but I also felt a weird sense of pride, like I was involved in this other way of living that was cool to me. On Halloween, because we don’t celebrate it, my dad would drive me somewhere, anywhere different. Like Little Italy in New York to walk around and teach me all about the food and culture. And I never missed Halloween. Now that I’m an adult I notice that upbringing in my fundamentals, in the way that I move and think. It gives me a lot of pride.”
4. Long before The Gap put her at the forefront of their new Logo Remix campaign, she was a huge fan of the brand.
“The overalls were a dream! Their overalls defined every kid I knew growing up,” says, SZA, who stars in the campaign alongside other young tastemakers like Metro Booman. “When I think of Gap, I think of this ad I saw growing up where the girl was kind of goth, dressed up like she was from the movie The Craft. It’s genius. It was like a streetwear brand that went mainstream.”
5. Her songs that touch on sexuality, love and relationships are based on real life.
“ is definitely rooted in my experiences,” says SZA, whose hit The Weekend details the life of a woman trapped in a love triangle. Now happily in a relationship (“my boyfriend is a designer for Nike”) she says the takeaway of her songs is up for interpretation. “My music is touching people in whatever spaces they need to be touched in. I’m just making sure I’m staying true to whatever really happened to me or how I really feel. That’s the only way I can get rid of it as a person.”
The 60th Annual Grammy Awards air Sunday, Jan. 28 at 7:30p ET on CBS.