Lizzo knows how to command a stage — but she learned from watching the best. At her latest Special tour stop in Phoenix, Arizona, the singer paid tribute to Tina Turner, who died on May 24 at the age of 83. Shining in a sequin blue and green dress with a head of wild curls, Lizzo performed the opening verse of “Proud Mary” before stripping away the bottom of the dress to dance around the stage in a leotard for the high-energy chorus.
“Today, we lost an icon,” Lizzo said before the song. “And I haven’t allowed myself to be sad. I haven’t allowed myself to cry about it. And I don’t want to right now because I’d much rather celebrate the incredible legend Tina Turner is. As a Black girl in a rock band, I would not exist if it was not for the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Leading a chant in the arena, Lizzo shouted: “There is no Rock ‘n’ Roll without Tina Turner.” As she replicated Turner’s iconic “Proud Mary” choreography during her performance, the audience mirrored her moves, all recognizing that unmistakable dance.
Last year, Lizzo cited Turner while defending herself against criticisms that her music is geared toward white audiences. “That is probably the biggest criticism I’ve received, and it is such a critical conversation when it comes to Black artists … The thing is, when a Black artist reaches a certain level of popularity, it’s going to be a predominantly white crowd,” she told Vanity Fair. “I was so startled when I watched 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. Tina Turner, when she played arenas—white audience.”
Lizzo added: “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. If I can help other people, hell yeah. 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.”
That, ultimately, is what Turner did for her.