"An anarchist streak still runs through me,” says Lady Rizo, the singer-sophisticate who was once a teenage punk rocker. “I love the idea of claiming something that’s uncool and making it authentic.” To that end, the NYC-based artist has earned a name for herself by transforming nightclub-pop into experiences that are more soulful, more theatrical. A provocateur with an electric wit, Lady Rizo is a vessel for the spirits of Edith Piaf and Freddie Mercury.
The New York Times once referred to Lady Rizo (né Amelia Zirin-Brown) as “a formidable belter who can sustain phrases and notes even when sprawled on her back on a piano and scissoring her legs.” They’re not alone in that enthusiasm. Lady Rizo—who is releasing Indigo, her second album, on August 18—has collaborated with Moby, Reggie Watts, and Yo-Yo Ma, the latter on his Songs of Joy & Peace album, which won a Grammy Award.
She’s received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, a Time Out London theater award, and a 2013 London Cabaret Award. She also co-composed music for Adam Rapp’s Los Angeles, as well as theme songs for the Fuse network and E! Entertainment. All of which is to say: Our Lady of Perpetual Creativity is, by design, many things to many people.
Taking a cue from Piaf, Lady Rizo fully embraces the role of chanteuse. In recordings, she is a mysterious figure, a siren ushering you through tableaus of heartbreak, lust, and the murkiness in between. Live, she is an eyeful. “Freddie Mercury embodied songs with his voice and body,” she says, admiringly. Like the Queen singer, she too can make even the simplest sentiment feel voluminous.