SZA Brings Timeless Authenticity to Kansas City

9.08.2017

By Rebekah Swank

 

The Uptown Theater is an old-school concert venue with vintage vibes. The bright-shining bulbs spelling out “Uptown” lit the sign below –“SZA” was illuminated. Kansas City natives and visitors began lining up outside of the theater as early as 4:30 p.m. Fans dressed in true, fabulous SZA fashion while wrapping around the corner and down the street. I saw tight, full-body sequin jumpsuits; oversized jackets, Adidas sweatpants paired with bikini tops, and voluminous, curly hair.

Walking into the concert hall, I was overwhelmed with a skunky scent. White clouds of smoke were scattered throughout the crowd. As the curtains opened and people screamed, giant neon letters spelling “CTRL” gleamed over the heads in front of me. SZA emerged in loose, purple, metallic pants and a black tank top; her long red hair billowed behind her with every step she took.

SZA’s real name is Solána Imani Rowe. She got the inspiration for her stage name from the Supreme Alphabet and the rapper RZA. S stands for “sovereign,” Z stands for “zig-zag,” and A stands for “Allah, the most high.” SZA was raised as an Orthodox Muslim, and still practices Islam, and relies on her faith to stay true to herself and her music.

Mitch Saffle, a student at Kansas State University, admires SZA for being honest in her album newest album, CTRL.

“[The album] was a story of her life. She was being open and honest with her listeners, and because of that I realized I related to some of her struggles regarding relationships and self-worth. SZA is truly an inspirational artist,” Saffle said.

SZA’s connection to her fans is unique to her and her performances. When she sang and danced, I could see her radiating with happiness as more and more of her followers sang along with her.

“SZA was an amazing performer, and I really appreciated her interaction with the crowd, asking how we were doing ‘physically, mentally, and spiritually,’” Saffle said. “To me it seemed that she was just a genuine person doing what she loved.”

Although her show seemed short, SZA’s performance was energetic and authentic. From her opening song of “Supermodel,” when the crowd screeched with excitement, to her finale singing “Twenty Something,” she twirled around the stage and bellowed her lyrics with fervor.

I have listened to SZA since I was a senior in high school. I have trolled through her Instagram and Twitter accounts. I have tried to recreate some of her greatest looks with very little success. She is truly a one of a kind musical artist, and after seeing her on stage, all I can say is “Go Gina.”

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