SZA on How to Pronounce Her Name—and the Weirdest Versions She's Heard

Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty

If you haven't heard of SZA yet, that's about to change. With five Grammy nominations this year, the singer, whose real name is Solána Imani Rowe, is up for more awards at this weekend's ceremony than any other female artist in 2018. A musical tour de force, she's boldly confessional in her lyrics. And yet, when it comes to her stage name—pronounced "SIZ-uh," for the record—people still get it wrong all the time.

She doesn't mind, though. "That's fine," the R&B artist told InStyle nonchalantly on Tuesday at the launch of the Mastercard House, where all Mastercard holders can attend free concerts leading up to the Grammys. "I don't need them to."

Read through InStyle's interview with SZA to find out the strangest mispronunciations she's heard yet, how she found out about her Grammy nominations, and what she thinks of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements' slow ripple through the music industry.

How did you react when you found out that you're the most-nominated female artist of the year? I definitely thought it was not real! I assumed that someone got 20 nominations, and I was the lowest or something. I was grateful to be in the pool at all. I was in disbelief to be considered for it. The more I found out, it just sounded more and more crazy, and I felt this weird responsibility to process and not to rush. And my phone was broken the first day that I found out, so I couldn’t rush. That was purposeful, I think, in God’s plan.

How are you preparing for Grammy night? Meditation, family bonding, visualizing, focusing, and lots of rehearsing.

How do you keep yourself centered with all the excitement around you? I don’t think anybody’s centered. I think everybody’s adjusting accordingly every day, all the time, but that’s what we should be doing as human beings: growing. But the adjustment is maybe a little more erratic in the position that I’m in.

How did you pick your artist name, SZA? It’s an acronym derived from the Supreme Alphabet [of the Nation of Gods and Earths, an alphanumeric code developed by Clarence 13X,] if you’re familiar with Wu-Tang and RZA [who also chose his name based on the Supreme Alphabet]. So each letter stands for a different ideology and theme. The S stands for Sovereign or Self, Savior; the Z stands for Zig-Zag-Zig, which is enlightenment and acknowledgement of one’s self; and the A stands for the most high of all [Allah].

What’s the weirdest pronunciation you’ve heard so far? You name it. Like anything "Zah." Anything, like "Zzzz," stopping at the "zzz" or going over it.

Right now in Hollywood there's a lot of discussion surrounding the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Do you feel those waves in the music industry too? Definitely, definitely. I feel like this isn’t really something that is isolated to a facet of acting because it’s actually brought to you by real women, and actresses are really just shedding light on something that so many women in everyday offices and everyday clothing stores and everyday colleges, high schools, households are dealing with. We just have an opportunity to bring it to the forefront. This isn’t about Hollywood, and it’s not about actresses—it’s about all of us.

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