She has Scottish ancestry. When she was 14, she attended Kent School, a boarding school because of her dependency on alcohol. At 18, she attended Fordham University and studied philosophy.
Her uncle taught her how to play the guitar and she performed in clubs under a variety of names, including Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, Lizzy Grant and the Phenomena. Lana chose her stage name because she thought it was beautiful.
She told GQ about her name change, "First of all, no one was even listening to me for ages, so I did whatever I wanted. I had no fans.and all of a sudden, everything changed, and they were like, 'You used to be like.'"
Lana Del Rey has admitted to stage fright. "I love to sing and I really love to write, but in terms of being onstage, I'm not that comfortable, which I think is sort of clear" (gq.com).
Lana Del Rey signed her first recording contract when she was 21 and released her first digital album "Lana Del Ray aka Lizzy Grant" in January 2010. Her debut single "Video Games" was released in June 2011. A video for the song was posted on YouTube and went viral.
She has been described as a "self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra" and "Lolita lost in the hood." Though Lana herself describes her music as "Hollywood sadcore." Lana Del Rey sings in a wide contralto vocal range.
Lana Del Rey told The Telegraph, "It's funny.[I've] been taking my music to labels for years, and everyone just thought it was creepy. They thought the images with the music were weird and verging on psychotic. And then, one day, it's like people decided it wasn't actually too strange.you know what changed? It got played on the radio."
When asked about the criticism she receives, Lana Del Rey said, "I'm just not interested. Music is secondary to me. I wish I could go back to normal. I'm a really quiet person. I always have been. It's hard when you see a lot of things written about you. It's not what I had in mind." She added, "I didn't sign up to be famous, I just wanted to sing" (complex.com).
She subsequently signed with Interscope and released her second studio album "Born to Die" in January 2012. It sold over 2.8 million copies, making it one of the best-selling albums that year. Several songs became Top Ten hits, including "Blue Jeans," "National Anthem," "Born to Die," and "Summertime Sadness."
Her next album "Paradise" was released in November 2012.
Lana Del Rey has segued into modeling and she endorsed the Jaguar F-Type car.
Lana Del Rey has refuted rumors that she had plastic surgery on her face. She does have tattoos, including one with the phrase "trust no one" and "paradise."