- Robyn Rihanna Fenty
February 20, 1988 (age 33)
- Singer, Fashion Designer, Actor, Music artist
- Monica Braithwaite, Ronald Fenty
Robyn Rihanna Fenty (born February 20, 1988), known by her stage name Rihanna, is a Barbadian singer, actress, and fashion designer. Born in Saint Michael, Barbados, her career began upon meeting record producer Evan Rogers in late 2003 through mutual friends; she recorded demo tapes with his guidance. Her tape was sent to several record labels, and she subsequently signed a contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for its then-president, hip-hop producer and rapper Jay-Z. Both her debut album, Music of the Sun (2005) and its follow-up A Girl Like Me (2006) peaked in the top ten on the US Billboard 200; the former featured the commercially successful song "Pon de Replay" while the latter produced her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, "SOS".
She rose to widespread prominence and became a household name with the release of her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), and its chart-topping lead single "Umbrella." The album and its 2008 Reloaded re-release were nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella". From 2009 to 2012, following a highly publicized altercation with then-boyfriend, entertainer Chris Brown, she annually released four Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) platinum certified albums: Rated R (2009), Loud (2010), Talk That Talk (2011), and her first Billboard 200 number one album Unapologetic (2012). The same year, she appeared in her first theatrical feature film, Battleship.
Rihanna has sold over 150 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. Many of her songs rank among the world's best-selling singles of all time, such as "Umbrella", "Take a Bow", "Disturbia", "Only Girl (In the World)", "S&M", "We Found Love", "Diamonds" and "Stay". In addition to her solo work, Rihanna has collaborated with other artists and was featured on the worldwide hits "Can't Remember to Forget You" (with Shakira), "Live Your Life" (with T.I.), "Run This Town" (with Jay-Z and Kanye West), "Love the Way You Lie" and "The Monster" (both with Eminem). She has achieved thirteen number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the youngest and fastest solo artist to accomplish this record. Billboard named her the Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s decade and the top Hot 100 artist of the 2010s decade.
Rihanna is known for frequently reinventing her style and image, most notably since Good Girl Gone Bad. Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including eight Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, 23 Billboard Music Awards, and two BRIT Awards. In 2012, Forbes ranked her the fourth most powerful celebrity of the year, with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012. The same year, TIME named Rihanna one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. At the American Music Awards of 2013, she received the first ever Icon Award. On June 2, 2014, Rihanna received the Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados. Her mother, Monica Braithwaite, is a retired accountant of Afro-Guyanese background, and her father, Ronald Fenty, is a warehouse supervisor of Barbadian and Irish descent. Rihanna has two brothers, Rorrey and Rajad Fenty, and two half-sisters and a half-brother from her father's side, each born to different mothers from his previous relationships. She grew up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Bridgetown and sold clothes with her father in a stall on the street. Rihanna's childhood was deeply affected by her father's addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol. Her parents divorced when she was 14. Rihanna grew up listening to reggae music and began singing at around the age of seven. She attended Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School and Combermere High School, where she studied alongside future England cricketer Chris Jordan and formed a musical trio with two of her classmates. Rihanna was an army cadet in a sub-military programme; the singer-songwriter Shontelle was her drill sergeant. Although she initially wanted to graduate from high school, she chose to pursue a musical career instead.
Before signing to Def Jam Recordings, Rihanna was discovered in her home country Barbados by American record producer Evan Rogers. The two met in December 2003 through mutual friends of Rihanna's and Rogers' wife, while the couple was on vacation in Barbados, because of how Rihanna's friend had told Rogers' wife how the aspiring singer was always singing and performing. After meeting for the first time, Rogers' asked Rihanna to come to his hotel room, where she performed renditions of Destiny's Child's "Emotion" and Mariah Carey's "Hero". Rihanna's renditions impressed Rogers, who then took her to New York, where she was accompanied by her mother to record some demo tapes which could be sent to record labels. She recorded the demo over the next year intermittently, due to Rihanna only being able to record during school holidays.
At the age of 16, Rihanna was signed to Rogers' and Carl Sturken's production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions, who assigned her a lawyer and manager, before the completed demo tape were distributed to various record labels around the world in late 2004. The first to respond to the demo tape was Jay-Z, who had recently been appointed as president and Chief executive officer (CEO) of Def Jam Recordings. He was given Rihanna's demo by A&R Jay Brown, but when Jay-Z heard the track "Pon de Replay", he felt the song was too big for her, saying "when a song is that big, it's hard [for a new artist] to come back from. I don't sign songs, I sign artists". Despite being skeptical about signing Rihanna, he invited her to audition for him and music mogul L.A. Reid, in his office. Looking back on the audition and meeting Jay-Z, Rihanna explained in an interview how she felt before walking into the room, saying: "That's when I really got nervous..... I was like: 'Oh God, he's right there, I can't look, I can't look, I can't look!' I remember being extremely quiet. I was very shy. I was cold the entire time. I had butterflies. I'm sitting across from Jay-Z. Like, Jay-Zee. I was star-struck." During the audition, Rihanna performed Whitney Houston's cover of "For the Love of You", as well as "Pon de Replay" and "The Last Time", which were written and produced by Rogers and Sturken and would be included on her debut album Music of the Sun.
The audition resulted in Rihanna signing a six-album record deal with Def Jam in February 2005, on the same day of the audition to prevent her from signing with another label, with Jay-Z saying "There's only two ways out. Out the door after you sign this deal. Or through this window ...". After signing to Def Jam, Rihanna cancelled other meetings with record labels and relocated from Barbados to New York to live with Rogers' and his wife. In May 2005, she appeared on the track "The One" with rapper Memphis Bleek on his fourth studio album 534 and released her debut single, "Pon de Replay", which charted successfully worldwide, peaking in the top five in fifteen countries, including at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart.
Rihanna worked with different producers to complete her debut studio album, primarily Rogers and his production partner Carl Sturken. Music of the Sun, was released in August 2005. It debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 and received a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of over 500,000 units. The album sold over two million copies worldwide. It received mixed reviews; Rolling Stone gave it two and a half out of five stars and described as lacking replay value, ingenuity, and rhythm. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described the album as a "glut of teen R&B chanteuses" and described her lead single as "a dancehall-pop mixture that owes plenty of its sweat and shimmy to Beyoncé's "Baby Boy". A second single, "If It's Lovin' that You Want", was not as successful as its predecessor, but reached the top ten in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.
Besides music Rihanna made her acting debut in a cameo role in the straight-to-DVD film Bring It On: All or Nothing, released in August 2006. A month after the release of her debut album, Rihanna began working on her second studio album. A Girl Like Me was released in April 2006. The album was a commercial success, charting in the top ten in thirteen countries. The album reached number one in Canada and number five in the United Kingdom and United States, where it sold 115,000 copies its first week. Its lead single, "SOS", was an international success, charting in the top five in eleven countries, including Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and in Australia, her first to reach this chart position. "Unfaithful", the album's second single, reached the top ten in eighteen countries, including number one in Canada and Switzerland. "We Ride" and "Break It Off", the latter featuring Sean Paul, were also released as singles. Following the release of the album, Rihanna embarked on her first headlining tour, the Rihanna: Live in Concert Tour.
Music and voice
While recording tracks for her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), Rihanna took vocal lessons from Ne-Yo. Speaking of the experience she stated, "I've never had vocal training, so when I'm in the studio, he'll tell me how to breathe and stuff... He'll call out these big fancy words: 'OK, I want you to do staccato.' And I'm like, 'OK, I don't know what that is.'" Her vocal performance on Loud (2010) received positive reviews from music critics. James Skinner from BBC praised Rihanna's vocals on the song "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)" and wrote that her voice is powerful and that "it is Rihanna's vocal – at once commanding, soulful and vulnerable – that anchors the song, and Loud itself". Andy Gill from The Independent feels that "California King Bed" features her best vocal performance. In a review of Unapologetic, Billboard magazine wrote, "Diamonds finds Rihanna doing one of her throatiest, most impassioned vocals to date, on this inspirational pop ballad." Jon Caramanica of The New York Times stated, "over the years, as her game face froze in place, her voice cured into a weapon of emotional chill and strategic indifference. It's decidedly unfriendly, made to give orders". Volume 65 of the Contemporary Black Biography book series notes that "Rihanna is the rare rhythm and blues diva to emerge from the Caribbean world."
Rihanna has named Madonna as her idol and biggest influence. She said that she wanted to be the "black Madonna". "I think that Madonna was a great inspiration for me, especially on my earlier work. If I had to examine her evolution through time, I think she reinvented her clothing style and music with success every single time. And at the same time remained a real force in entertainment in the whole world." She also cites Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey as major influences and idols. Of Janet Jackson, Rihanna has commented that "[s]he was one of the first female pop icons that I could relate to." Rihanna has said the late R&B singer Aaliyah has a huge impact on her style and also complimented on the singers artistry as well. Rihanna was inspired to start her career after watching Beyoncé on television with Destiny's Child.
Legacy and influence
Rihanna's first albums established her as a "Pop/R&B Princess" by music critics; Nick Levine of Digital Spy described her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad, as the closest thing to a Thriller that 2007/08 is likely to produce. Her single "Umbrella", famous for its "ella ella" hook, is considered by Rolling Stone to be one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and received critical acclaim. Her 2011 single "We Found Love" was ranked by Billboard as the 24th biggest US Billboard Hot 100 hit of all time. The music video for the song was also received with acclaim, winning the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video and MTV's Video of the Year. Time magazine included Rihanna on its 100 Most Influential People in 2012. The following month, Forbes ranked Rihanna fourth on their Most Powerful Celebrity 100 list, with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012. In November 2013, Rihanna was given the "Icon Award" at the 2013 American Music Awards. On June 2, 2014, Rihanna was presented with Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a special prize reserved for "an individual whose style has made a significant impact on popular culture on an international stage".
Rihanna has sold over 30 million albums and 120 million singles worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In the United States, Rihanna has sold over 10 million albums, while Nielsen SoundScan ranked her as the best-selling digital artist in the country, breaking a Guinness World Record for digital single sales of over 58 million as of 2012. In the United Kingdom, she has sold over 7 million albums making her 3rd best selling female this century. Her collaboration with Eminem, "Love the Way You Lie", together with "Umbrella", "Disturbia", "Only Girl (In the World)", "We Found Love", and "Diamonds", are some of the best-selling singles of all time worldwide. The singer has accumulated thirteen number one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, tying with Michael Jackson for the third most number ones in chart's history. She has been named the top Pop Songs chart artist of the past twenty years by Billboard; she ranks first with most entries (36), most top tens (23), and most number ones (10). As of March 2014, Rihanna has sold over 18 million singles and six million albums in the United Kingdom. She is the tenth best-selling and the second best-selling female singles artist in the country, only behind Madonna and is second only to The Beatles for the most million-selling singles in the UK of all time. In August 2013, Rihanna was named the 15th biggest US Billboard Hot 100 artist of all time, becoming the highest ranking newcomer on the list since the last time Billboard compiled all time artists in 2008. In the same month, Billboard ranked Rihanna the top Hot 100 artist of the 2010s decade.
In 2009, Rihanna claimed she was "effectively bankrupt", due to gross mismanagement from accountancy firm, Berdon LLP. Rihanna was given the go ahead to buy a property priced between $7 and $7.5 million. The property was later sold for a $2 million loss. Her expenses also "doubled" during this time. Rihanna was also losing money from her "Last Girl on Earth" tour but she was never warned of this by the accountants. Forbes began reporting on Rihanna's earnings in 2012, calculating that she earned $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012, for her music, tour, and endorsements. In 2013 Rihanna came in at number thirteen on the list with a total earning of $43 million due to endorsements such as vita coco. Rihanna's total net-worth is an estimated $90 million.
On February 8, 2009, Rihanna's scheduled performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards was cancelled. Reports surfaced that then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown had beaten her. He was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats. On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with assault and making criminal threats. Due to a leaked photograph from the Los Angeles Police Department obtained by TMZ.com—which revealed that Rihanna had sustained visible injuries—an organization known as STOParazzi proposed "Rihanna's Law," which, if enacted, would "deter employees of law enforcement agencies from releasing photos or information that exploits crime victims." Gil Kaufman of VH1 reported the "nonstop coverage of the Rihanna/Brown case has brought up a number of issues regarding the privacy of alleged victims of domestic violence, including the decision by almost all major news outlets to divulge the identity of the victim—which is not typically done in domestic-violence cases" and discussed the controversial distribution of the leaked photograph. Rihanna was subpoenaed to testify during a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles on June 22, 2009. On June 22, 2009, Brown pled guilty to felony assault. Brown received five years probation and was ordered to stay fifty yards (46 meters) away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then would be reduced to ten yards (nine meters). In February 2011, at the request of Brown's lawyer and with Rihanna's consent, Judge Patricia Schnegg modified the restraining order to a "level one order," which allows the singers to appear at awards shows together in the future.
From December 2009 to 2010, Rihanna dated Los Angeles Dodgers baseball star Matt Kemp. Canadian rapper Drake has also dated the singer. In a January 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, Rihanna confirmed that she had rekindled her relationship with Chris Brown, though he remained under probation for the 2009 domestic violence incident. The confirmation followed persistent media speculation throughout 2012 regarding the pair's reunion. In a May 2013 interview, Brown stated that he and Rihanna had broken up again.
Rihanna has stated that she believes in God and that she focuses on obeying God and reading her Bible. She is a fan of Christian minister Joyce Meyer and tweeted to her "you're awesome".