Lizzo Goes to Church With Rousing GRAMMY Performance of 'Special'

The singer put on a show-stopping performance during Sunday's awards show.

Lizzo really made the 2023 GRAMMY Awards crowd feel Special with her Sunday night performance. The 34-year-old singer took the stage to perform the title song from her critically acclaimed album, which earned her five GRAMMY nominations, including Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Introduced by Jayla Rose Sullivan, a transgender dancer featured on Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrls who credited Lizzo for "opening up doors for women of size, women of color and people with all different gender expressions," Lizzo demanded the audience's attention the moment she stepped out onstage.

First seen only in silhouette, the singer belted out the opening notes to her hit song, "About Damn Time," showing off her stunning vocals a cappella style before the band came in. Looking glam in a black corseted, silver-pipelined dress with dramatic shoulders and a diamond-encrusted cross necklace, Lizzo commanded the stage like a pro as she told the GRAMMYs they were about to "have some church up on in here."

The singer then led into "Special" for the main portion of her GRAMMY performance and was joined by a gospel choir, all wearing matching black-and-gold printed dresses and tight buns. Notes of "About Damn Time" played in and out of the "Special" performance as a lone female dancer took the center spotlight for her solo during the powerful and inspiring rendition.

The performance closed with Lizzo stepping out from in front of the gospel choir and passionately singing the lyrics to "Special," as if to inspire someone who's watching who may be struggling at that exact moment. 

Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Following her GRAMMY moment, even host Trevor Noah was moved. "You don't see that every day. Every single time she hits the stage, it's phenomenal," he praised. "I need to get me one of those gospel choirs. I love her. She's like if dopamine was a person."

Lizzo has given her fans a much more intimate look into her journey to stardom and her musical process; from Love, Lizzo, her HBO Max documentary, to the soul-bearing Special tracklist, revealing cover stories and candid interviews that give fans more insight into the singer's mindset.

In a recent cover story for Vanity Fair, the "About Damn Time" singer addressed the oft-repeated judgment that her music is somehow geared toward white listeners, noting that it's "such a critical conversation when it comes to Black artists."

"When Black people see a lot of white people in the audience, they think, 'Well this isn't for me, this is for them.' The thing is, when a Black artist reaches a certain level of popularity, it's going to be a predominantly white crowd," she explains. "I was so startled when I watched [YouTube clips of gospel great] Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who was an innovator of rock and roll. She was like 'I'm going to take gospel and shred guitar,' and when they turned the camera around, it was a completely white audience." 

The singer pointed out several other Black icons who similarly played to predominantly white audiences including Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé and modern rappers.

"I am not making music for white people. I am a Black woman, I am making music from my Black experience, for me to heal myself [from] the experience we call life," she says, adding that it's a bonus when her music helps other Black people. "Because we are the most marginalized and neglected people in this country. We need self-love and self-love anthems more than anybody. So am I making music for that girl right there who looks like me, who grew up in a city where she was underappreciated and picked on and made to feel unbeautiful? Yes. It blows my mind when people say I'm not making music from a Black perspective--how could I not do that as a Black artist?"

But Lizzo also shared that when she connected with other Black women who were inspired by her music, that criticism lost its hold on her. She said that she was able to authentically connect with more people who appreciated her music as it became mainstream and saw her as she sees herself: "Not 'that girl, she's always happy, it's not real,' but instead, 'She's really good and her music is good, believe her.' That is what I'm moving into now, and it's a beautiful place to be. I finally feel I can relax and have a cocktail."

The 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards are taking place at Arena and are being broadcast and streamed live on CBS and Paramount+. Follow along at for full coverage from music's biggest night.