As the singer accepts her Albanian citizenship, Amy Francombe tells the story of her life from when she was a child of Kosovan refugees to when she was a teenager living alone in London. She also talks about her incredible success after that.
Dua Lipa has had a very busy year. She is a global pop star, has won three Grammys, and became an Albanian citizen yesterday.
Since February, when her hit album Future Nostalgia came out, the singer has been touring all over the world. Last night, she met with Barjam Begaj, the president of Albania. Lipa became an official Albanian citizen on the 110th anniversary of the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Begaj said in a statement, “I’m happy to give the one and only Dua Lipa the decree of Albanian citizenship.” “Her work around the world and dedication to important social causes have made us proud.”
Lipa responded by tweeting, “Thank you President Bajram Begaj and Mayor @erionveliaj for this honor! I got my Albanian citizenship!! She then posted a picture of herself with the Albanian flag on November 28, the day before the last show of her Future Nostalgia tour, which was in Tirana.
Even though the 27-year-old was born in England, she grew up speaking Albanian because her parents are half Albanian. After she finished primary school, she lived there for two years. She told Line Of Best Fit, “I’m very proud to be from both places, and I feel like I’m a good representative of both.”
Lipa has won six Brit Awards, three Grammys, two Guinness World Records for most tickets sold for a live-streamed concert by a solo female artist, and the most monthly listeners on Spotify for a female artist. Albania has every reason to be proud of her. Here’s how Dua Lipa went from being a YouTube star to going on a world tour that sold out arenas.
Her childhood was a mix of living in London and in Albania.
Lipa was born in London in 1995. His parents, Anesa and Dukagjin Lipa, had moved there from Kosovo because of the war in Bosnia two years before. “My mom is half Bosnian, so her mom was in Sarajevo at the time, but they moved to London when things got really bad in ex-Yugoslavia,” Lipa told the American news service NPR. “Something that people often forget is that people don’t really want to leave their country unless they have to. It’s really because we have to.”
They came to Camden as refugees, and while they worked as waiters, her father went to school to become a dentist, and her mother went to school to become a lawyer. This taught the future pop star how important it is to work hard. She told Vogue in 2021, “They had to wait tables all day and study at night. They believed that you make your own luck.”
In 2006, Lipa’s parents decided it was safe enough to go back to Kosovo, where they were born. They took Lipa, then 11, along with her younger sister Rina and brother Gjin. “I was going back to a place where I almost felt like I was already at home. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2021, she said, “It was really exciting for me to get to go to a place where I also felt, in some ways, more normal.” But it didn’t take long for Lipa to realize that her language skills weren’t good enough for her to do well in school. She also had dreams that she knew she could only reach in London.
I secretly wanted to be as famous as Justin Bieber, so that someone would find me on YouTube.
From posting cover songs on YouTube to making it big
Lipa knew from a young age that she wanted to be a pop star because her father was in a rock band called Oda and often played David Bowie, Prince, and Bob Dylan in the house. She told Holr magazine, “My father was a musician, and music was always playing in the house, so it had a big effect on me.” She wrote her first song when she was about four years old.
She started posting covers of her favorite songs by artists like P!nk and Nelly Furtado on YouTube when she was 14 years old. In a 2020 interview with the BBC, she said, “Deep down, I wanted to have that Justin Bieber effect, where someone would find me on YouTube.” She then begged her family to let her move back to London by herself.
After a year, they finally gave in. Since another girl from her hometown was also moving to London, they could share a place in Kilburn. So, when she was 15, Lipa started going to Parliament Hill School and her old stage school on the weekends, Sylvia Young, which also taught Amy Winehouse and Rita Ora. She did this while living on her own. But the risk paid off quickly.