British-Kosovar-Albanian singer-songwriter Dua Lipa is a Grammy Award winner who captivated listeners with her hit single “New Rules” and her album ‘Future Nostalgia.’
Who Is Dua Lipa?
Singer-songwriter Dua Lipa is the daughter of Kosovar Albanians who were refugees in London in the 1990s. Her name “Dua” means love in Albanian; she has no middle name. Lipa was so committed to pursuing a career in music that at 15 she went to live in London on her own. (Her family had returned to Kosovo a few years earlier.) She used social media to promote herself before signing with a label. Lipa said her earlier music was “dark pop,” but her successful second album Future Nostalgia had more uptempo tunes. Lipa has collaborated with numerous other artists, including Elton John, Miley Cyrus and Chris Martin.
Early Life and Family
Dua Lipa was born in London, England, on August 22, 1995. In 1992, Lipa’s parents, Dukagjin and Anessa, fled Pristina, Kosovo, to escape conflict in the former Yugoslavia. As Kosovar Albanians, they were targeted by Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.
Lipa’s parents arrived in London as refugees. Though both were students (Lipa’s father studied dentistry and her mother studied law), they worked in restaurants to make ends meet in their new home. In 1995, Lipa was born.
Lipa wrote her first song around the age of four. She had family connections to music — in addition to his dental studies, her father had been in a rock band. “My father was a musician and music was always played around the house so it just always kind of had a big impact on me,” she shared in one interview. She grew up listening to artists like Blondie, Prince, Bob Dylan, Sting and Pink.
Though Lipa had grown up speaking Albanian at home, the move revealed that her language skills weren’t good enough to thrive in school. With time, her Albanian did improve. She was able to make friends, who told her about the war that had taken place in Kosovo while her family was in London. Kosovo’s hip-hop-dominated music scene also introduced Lipa to new music.
At 15, Lipa returned to London, where she moved in with a family friend. She got her parents to support the move because it would benefit her education. However, her true goal was to pursue singing; she felt launching a career in music wouldn’t be possible in Kosovo. She explained to CBS News in 2020, “I was like, I want to do music, but I want to do it on a global scale. I have to go back to where everything is happening.”
Early Career and ‘Dua Lipa’
In London, Lipa studied at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she’d been a student before her family relocated to Kosovo. She also posted song covers on YouTube in an attempt to garner attention. “Deep down I wanted to have that Justin Bieber effect where someone would find me on YouTube!” she said in a 2020 interview.
Lipa earned money by working in a restaurant. She also signed with a modeling agency, believing it could boost her career. Yet because she wasn’t interested in losing weight as the agency wanted, few jobs materialized.
Still focused on music, Lipa shared songs on SoundCloud. Though she didn’t appear on the performance-focused reality show X-Factor, she did sing in a commercial for the show. In time, Lipa was offered a music publishing deal, which set off a fortuitous chain of events. Lipa contacted a lawyer for advice on the deal. The lawyer put her in touch with a manager, who also managed Lana Del Rey. Lipa ended up signing on with this manager.
In 2015, Lipa got a record deal. Her first single, “New Love,” came out that year. More songs followed, but her self-titled album didn’t arrive until 2017. That album’s singles had middling success until “New Rules” was released. The video for that blockbuster hit has been viewed more than two billion times on YouTube. Another single from the album, “IDGAF,” went platinum.
Growing fame resulted in some backlash for Lipa, such as being criticized for lackluster choreography in 2018. However, she took the comments in stride and used them as fuel for dance training sessions.
Growing Success and ‘Future Nostalgia’
At the 61st Grammy Awards in 2019, Lipa won Best New Artist. She also won a second Grammy that year: Best Dance Recording for “Electricity.”
Lipa’s second album, Future Nostalgia, was more personal than her debut release. She’d come up with the title while in Las Vegas, and had a writing credit on all the record’s songs. At the beginning of March 2020, Lipa was gearing up to release Future Nostalgia. Then the album leaked online just as the world was shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many other artists put their work on pause, but Lipa decided to release Future Nostalgia a week early.
Given the global crisis, Lipa was unsure about proceeding with the album release, though the leak had left her in a difficult position. Fortunately, her work was embraced by listeners. While Lipa had described her earlier songs as “dark pop,” this album was more dance-friendly. The tracks displayed a connection to music from the 1970s, ’80s and 90s, while also bearing up-to-date touches.
Lipa became the top female artist on Spotify’s listening charts the week her album came out. As tours were off the table in 2020, in November Lipa live-streamed a concert called Studio 2054, which included guest appearances by Kylie Minogue, Bad Bunny and John. More than 5 million people saw the stream, setting a record for paid views.
Lipa received six nominations for the 63rd Grammy Awards. Future Nostalgia won for Best Pop Vocal Album.
Activism and Causes
Lipa has shared her support for Palestinians, abortion rights, women’s rights, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ rights. She has urged people in the United Kingdom to vote Labour and backed Bernie Sanders during the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign.
With her father, Lipa created the Sunny Hill Foundation, an organization that assists younger people in Kosovo. Her family’s experiences make her concerned about the future status of immigrants and refugees in a post-Brexit United Kingdom.
Personal Life and Boyfriend
Lipa has been dating Anwar Hadid, a model and the younger brother of Gigi and Bella Hadid, since 2019.
Prior to her relationship with Hadid, Lipa was involved with Isaac Carew.