Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (born February 16, 1990), known professionally as the Weeknd, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor. A prominent figure in contemporary popular music, he is noted for his unconventional music production, artistic reinventions, and his signature use of the falsetto register. His accolades include 4 Grammy Awards, 20 Billboard Music Awards, 22 Juno Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 2 MTV Video Music Awards, a Latin Grammy Award, and nominations for an Academy Award and a Primetime Emmy Award.
Born and raised in Toronto, Tesfaye began his career in 2009 by anonymously releasing music on YouTube. Two years later, he co-founded the XO record label and released the mixtapes House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, which gained recognition for his style of contemporary and alternative R&B and the mystique surrounding his identity. In 2012, he signed with Republic Records and rereleased the mixtapes in the compilation album Trilogy. He explored dark wave in his debut studio album Kiss Land (2013), which debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200. After its release, Tesfaye began contributing to film soundtracks, with his acclaimed single “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) winning the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance, while also being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Tesfaye earned critical and commercial success with his pop-leaning second album Beauty Behind the Madness (2015), which reached number one in the US, contained the US Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping singles “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”, and won the Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. His trap-infused third studio album Starboy (2016) saw similar commercial success and included the US number-one single of the same name and “Die For You”, and won the Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Tesfaye explored new wave and dream pop with his critically acclaimed fourth studio album After Hours (2020), which featured the chart record-setting single “Blinding Lights” and the US number-one singles “Heartless” and “Save Your Tears”. His dance-pop inspired fifth album Dawn FM (2022) included the US top-ten single “Take My Breath” and moderately successfully singles “Sacrifice”, “Out of Time”, and “Less than Zero”. He expanded to acting with the drama series The Idol (2023), which he also co-created.
Among the world’s best-selling music artists with over 75 million records sold, Tesfaye holds several streaming and Billboard chart records. He is the first Canadian artist to earn four diamond-certified singles from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), as well as the first artist to simultaneously hold the top three spots on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. “Blinding Lights” became the most-streamed song in Spotify history, and is the longest charting song in the Billboard Hot 100’s history. Tesfaye was listed by Time as one of the world’s most influential people in 2020, and was dubbed the “world’s most popular artist” by Guinness World Records in 2023. An advocate for racial equality and food security, he was appointed a World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassador in 2021.
Parents and family
His parents are Samra and Makkonen Tesfaye, but they have not been together for many decades.
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye was born on February 16, 1990, in Toronto, Ontario. He is the only child of Ethiopian immigrants Makkonen Tesfaye and Samrawit Hailu, who separated shortly after his birth. He was brought up in the district of Scarborough by his mother and grandmother. He has an estranged relationship with his father, telling Rolling Stone in 2015 that “I saw him vaguely when I was six, and then again when I was 11 or 12, and he had a new family and kids. I don’t even know where he lived — I’d see him for, like, a night. I’m sure he’s a great guy. I never judged him. He wasn’t abusive, he wasn’t an alcoholic, he wasn’t an asshole. He just wasn’t there.”
Tesfaye was raised as an Ethiopian Orthodox. When asked whether or not he was still religious, he stated to Variety in 2020, “I dunno…everything is a test, and if you are religious or spiritual, you have to go through things.” His native language is Amharic, which he learned through his grandmother. He later became fluent in French by attending a French-immersion school. He was further educated at West Hill Collegiate Institute and Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute.
When he was 17, Tesfaye dropped out of school and moved to an apartment in the neighbourhood of Parkdale with two friends; including his best friend and now creative director La Mar Taylor. He has described this period as being like the 1995 film Kids “without the AIDS”, as they lived a hedonistic lifestyle. He has also experienced homelessness and was incarcerated on several occasions during this time, which encouraged him to “smarten up, to focus.”
Tesfaye often used drugs and abused illegal substances such as ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, magic mushrooms, and cough syrup. In December 2016, he stated that drugs were a “crutch” for him when it came to writing music. In August 2021, during a cover story with GQ, he described himself as being “sober lite”, meaning that he has stopped using drugs with the exception of marijuana. He also noted that he drinks alcohol occasionally, stating: “I’m not a heavy drinker, as much as I used to be. The romance of drinking isn’t there.”
The Weeknd doesn’t have siblings.
Calling it a lonely upbringing with “no boys around. Just me and my mom,” the singer left home at 17 to move in with a friend and start a new life. It was during this isolated time that he says he turned to drugs.
“When I had nothing to do but make music, it was very heavy,” he said. “Drugs were a crutch for me. There were songs on my first record that were seven minutes long, rambling — whatever thoughts I was having when I was under the influence at the time. I can’t see myself doing that now.”
Tesfaye is known to be very enigmatic, and prefers to keep his personal life out of the public eye. In the beginning of his career, he refrained from participating in interviews and instead chose to communicate via Twitter, which he attributed to shyness and insecurities. To this day, he is still adamant about not participating in interviews, only agreeing to be interviewed in rare situations.
Tesfaye’s hairstyle, which has been described as one of his most recognizable traits, has been claimed to be partly inspired by American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. He began growing it out in 2011 and remarked at how easy it was to maintain with “a hard shampoo every once in a while”. He cut his hair in 2016, prior to the release of Starboy. On social media, Tesfaye typically suffixed his first name with “xo”, which is often used as an emoticon for hugs and kisses. According to The Guardian’s Hermione Hoby, this was his intention, though others believe it was a reference to his recreational use of ecstasy and oxycodone. He later altered the handles on his social media to reflect his stage name in preparation for the release of Starboy.
In January 2015, Tesfaye was arrested for allegedly punching a police officer in Las Vegas after being taken into an elevator to break up a fight. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to complete fifty hours of community service.
As of August 2021, Tesfaye resides in Bel Air, Los Angeles. In 2017, he purchased a home in Hidden Hills, California for $18.5 million, which he sold to Madonna in 2021 for $19.3 million. Tesfaye previously lived in penthouses in Westwood, Los Angeles and New York City.
In April 2023, Tesfaye revealed in an interview with Interview Magazine that he has attention deficit disorder.
Wife and Children
From April 2015 to August 2019, Tesfaye was in an on-again, off-again relationship with American model Bella Hadid. She starred in the music video for his single “In the Night” in December 2015. He briefly dated American singer-actress Selena Gomez from January to October 2017. Both of the relationships received widespread media attention, and were the topic of tabloid speculation.
Is The Weeknd married?
No, The Weeknd is at the moment not yet married. He has never been married before.
The Weeknd has no kids at the moment.
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