How Dua Lipa became one of the biggest pop stars in the world
As the singer accepts her Albanian citizenship, Amy Francombe charts her life as the child of Kosovan refugees to a teenager living alone in London (and the phenomenal success that’s followed) Global popstar, three-time Grammy award winner and — as of yesterday — Albanian citizen, Dua Lipa has had quite the year.
Last night, the singer — who has been touring her blockbuster album Future Nostalgia all over the world since February — met with Albania’s president, Barjam Begaj.
As part of the country’s 110th anniversary of declaring independence from the Ottoman Empire, Lipa was officially granted Albanian citizenship.
“Happy to give the one and only Dua Lipa the decree of Albanian citizenship,” said Begaj in a statement. “She has made us proud with her global career and engagement in important social causes.”
Lipa returned the love, tweeting: “Thank you President Bajram Begaj and Mayor @erionveliaj for this honour ~ got my Albanian citizenship!!” She then posted a pH๏τo as she posed with the Albanian flag on Monday (November 28), ahead of the final show of her Future Nostalgia tour in Tirana.
Although the 27-year-old was born in England, she spoke Albanian as her first language growing up, as her parents are half Albanian, and spent a two-year stint in the country after finishing primary school. Speaking to Line Of Best Fit, she said: ‘I feel very proud to be from both places and I feel like I represent both places.”
With six Brit Awards, three Grammys, two Guinness World Records for most tickets sold for a live-streamed concert by a solo female artist, and most monthly listeners on Spotify for a female artist, Albania has every right to be proud of Lipa. From her YouTube beginnings to sold-out arena world tour, here’s how Dua Lipa became Britain’s biggest pop star.
Her yo-yo childhood between London and Albania
Lipa was born in London in 1995, to Anesa and Dukagjin Lipa, who migrated from Kosovo two years prior due to the war in Bosnia. “My mum is half Bosnian, so her mum was in Sarajevo at the time,
but they moved to London as the situation started getting really difficult in ex-Yugoslavia,” Lipa told the American news service NPR. “Something that people forget all the time is, people don’t really want to leave their country unless they really have to. It’s really out of necessity.”
They arrived in Camden as refugees and her father studied dentistry while her mother studied law alongside their waiting jobs. This instilled a strong work ethic in the future pop star.
“They had to work very hard, waiting tables and studying in the evening and believing that you make your own luck,” she told Vogue in 2021.
In 2006, Lipa’s parents felt it was safe enough to return to their home country and decided to bring an 11-year-old Lipa and her younger siblings, sister Rina and brother Gjin, back to Kosovo. “
I was returning to a place where I almost already felt I belonged. It was really exciting for me to get to go to a place where also I felt, in some way, I would be more normal,”
she told Vanity Fair in a 2021 interview. However, it soon became apparent that her language skills weren’t good enough to thrive in school, and Lipa had dreams which she knew she needed to be in London to fulfil.
From uploading song covers on YouTube to getting her big break
Inspired by her father who had been in a rock band called Oda and often played the likes of David Bowie, Prince, and Bob Dylan in the house, Lipa knew she wanted to be a pop star from an early age. “
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 with Holr magazine. In fact, she wrote her first song around the age of four.
At 14, she began posting covers of her favourite songs by artists such as P!nk and Nelly Furtado on YouTube. “Deep down, I wanted to have that Justin Bieber effect, where someone would find me on YouTube!” she told the BBC in a 2020 interview. She then begged her family to allow her to move back to London by herself.
They finally caved in a year later. Another girl from her home city was also moving to the UK’s capital, which meant they would be able to flatshare in Kilburn. So, at jus 15 years of age,
Lipa began studying at Parliament Hill School and at her former weekend stage school, Sylvia Young (which also taught Amy Winehouse and Rita Ora), while living without any parental supervision. But the gamble quickly paid off.
Like many pop stars, she got her start on X-Factor — although Lipa never actually appeared on the reality TV contest. Instead, she sang the hit show’s commercial, which led to her being offered a music publishing deal. Lipa contacted a lawyer for advice on the deal, who then put her in touch with Lana Del Rey’s managers, Ed Millett and Ben Mawson of Tap Management, whom she later signed with.
Tap Management sent her for two years of intensive recording sessions, where she laid down around 130 songs. During this period, they held off on signing her to a record label, to allow her time to develop as an artist.
“I’ve always been very much in control of my music and my image and I think one of the things I’ve been lucky about is I didn’t bring a label on board until I really figured out who I was,” she told Harper’s Bazaar.
“I just needed to find a team that believed in my idea and my dream, and that made things way easier because I never had to deal with the thing of people wanting to change me or wanting to make me sing songs that aren’t really for me because I already had such a clear idea of what I wanted to do.”
Becoming one of the biggest pop stars in the world
In 2015, Lipa signed to Warner Music Group and, by August that year, she had released her first single, New Love. However, it was her second single Be the One, released two months, later that catapulted her into stardom.
The song reached number one in Belgium, Poland, and Slovakia, as well as charting within the top 10 in more than 11 European countries. In Australia and New Zealand, the song also became a radio hit, reaching numbers six and 20 respectively. What’s more, her follow-up singles only took her from strength to strength.
At the start of 2016, she began touring the UK and Europe and released her third single Last Dance, followed by Hotter than Hell – the track that properly broke Lipa into the mainstream. Later that summer, the release of Blow Your Mind brought her success in America, winning her an appearance on Tonight with Jimmy Fallon.[Disclaimer: This news has been made on the basis of information received from the website. NewsKosh does not confirm this from its side.]