From Kosovo to the world, Dua Lipa is on the rise

The singer behind double-platinum hit Be the One — one of four singles off her self-titled debut out this week — is founder and patron of the Sunny Hill Foundation, an organization promoting social equality and creative opportunities in her ancestral home of Kosovo.

“It’s a sad time for music and it’s sad that music fans have been targeted in such a way, and young children,” London-born pop singer Dua Lipa says when asked about the bombing last week of Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena.

“Our faith should be greater than our fear,” the 21-year-old continues. “What they want is for us to hide away, not enjoy ourselves and live in fear — and we shouldn’t live like that.

“We should be able to go out, have fun ... keep going to concerts and keep the spirit alive.”

Lipa doesn’t just pay lip-service to such worthy sentiments.

The singer behind double-platinum hit Be the One — one of four singles off her self-titled debut out this week — is founder and patron of the Sunny Hill Foundation, an organization promoting social equality and creative opportunities in her ancestral home of Kosovo.

The daughter of Kosovar Albanian rock star Dukagjin Lipa, Dua moved to Kosovo at age 11, learning to speak Albanian fluently and “solidifying” her relationship with the Balkan republic.

Last August, Lipa performed a massive concert in the capital Pristina. She met with the Kosovo President and mayor of Pristina before the show, during which her father joined her on stage sending the crowd ballistic.

“It was amazing,” she says. “The whole city was on lockdown because everyone was coming to the show and 18,000 people showed up. It was my biggest headline show — it was insane.”

Even a bigger deal than 18,000 people out of a city of just over 200,000 attending the concert was the fact Lipa donated 100 per cent of ticket sales to Sunny Hill, which has expanded its role beyond arts and music-related projects in a country still rising from the ashes of war.

“There’s a lot of hunger for progress over there,” Lipa says. “It’s still very poor, there’s lots of places that are really run-down, but every time I go back there’s something new and better happening. It’s great to see it grow.”

Her links to Kosovo keep the singer grounded as her career takes off. She toured the US with Perth’s Troye Sivan last year and has European headline shows lined up for later this year before heading to Australia with Bruno Mars next year.

“As my dad says, always remember where you came from and always remember the reason for what you’re doing, which is your love of music.”

That love, and Lipa’s determination to forge a singing career, meant that she convinced her parents to let her move back to London alone when she was 15.

The teenager returned to studying at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, a specialist performing arts college whose alumni include Amy Winehouse, actor Nicholas Hoult, Spice Girl Emma Bunton and actress/singer Billie Piper.

“It was brave, but I’ve always known what I wanted to do.” Lipa says. “I’ve always set my goals and really gone for it.

“My parents have always been very trusting of me, so when I lived on my own I tried to be as good as possible and spoke to them several times a day.”

Lipa was working in a restaurant and recording covers of her favourite songs to post on YouTube, when she was spotted on the street by a modelling agency.

Some of her friends were already modelling and Lipa thought she might make some useful contacts for her music career, so she pursued the opportunity.

“Then it came to a point where they said ‘If you want to do this properly you need to lose lots of weight’,” she says. “That wasn’t of any interest to me. When it started making me unhappy, I realised that’s not what I’m meant to be doing. It wasn’t really something that distracted me from music. Music was always my one and only goal.”

Lipa’s album and singles such as Blow Your Mind (Mwah) and Hotter Than Hell, a song she wrote before landing a record deal, showcase her smart take on hip-hop-influenced pop.

The album also features current single Lost in Your Light, a smooth duet with US R&B star Miguel, and album closer Homesick, written with Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who sings and plays piano on the track.

Her tastes range from the Britpop and rock (Oasis, Stereophonics, Radiohead) her parents played at home to the forthright female pop stars (Nelly Furtado, Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child) she adored as a child.

Strident album track IDGAF is, in part, a tribute to Pink. “I am obsessed with her. She and Nelly Furtado are my two favourite artists,” Lipa says. “I love how it’s pop but it’s honest. You feel like you really know them.

“Then when I moved to Kosovo everyone listened to hip-hop and my first concert was (US rap duo) Method Man and Redman.

“I can’t remember my earliest memory of music because it was always just there. Both my parents played a big role in that.”

Her dad gave her another salient piece of advice.

“He told me to work really hard,” Lipa says. “He said ‘You have to work really, really hard to get a little bit of luck’.

“It’s true, and it’s served me well.”

Autor: The West