- Ariana Grande-Butera
June 26, 1993 (age 27)
Ariana Grande-Butera (born June 26, 1993), known professionally as Ariana Grande, is an American singer and actress. She began her career in the Broadway musical 13, before landing the role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon television series Victorious in 2009. The show ended after four seasons, and Grande starred on the spinoff, Sam & Cat, which ended in 2014. She has also appeared in other theatre, television and film roles, and has lent her voice to animated television and films.
Grande's music career began with the soundtrack Music from Victorious (2011). She signed a recording contract with Republic Records and released her debut studio album, Yours Truly in 2013, which debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200. The album's lead single, "The Way", debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, with critics comparing her wide vocal range to Mariah Carey's range.
Grande's second studio album, My Everything (2014), debuted at No. 1 in the US and charted in the top 10 in various other countries. With the singles "Problem", "Break Free", "Bang Bang" and "Love Me Harder" from that album, she spent 34 continuous weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and had the most top 10 singles of any artist in 2014. In 2015, Grande promoted My Everything with her first world tour, The Honeymoon Tour, and guest-starred in the Fox comedy horror television series, Scream Queens. She also released the single "Focus", which debuted at No. 7 in the US, and a holiday EP album, Christmas & Chill, and she was heard on several collaborative projects. In 2016, she released her third studio album, Dangerous Woman, as well as several songs from the album. The title track debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Grande the first person in the history of that chart to have the lead single from each of her first three albums debut in the top 10. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. As of October 2016, Grande's music videos had been viewed a total of more than 6 billion times online.
Grande's accolades include three American Music Awards, the Music Business Association's Breakthrough Artist of the Year, an MTV Video Music Award, three MTV Europe Music Awards and four Grammy Award nominations. All three of her albums have been certified platinum or better by the RIAA. In 2016, Time named Grande one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list. Grande has a large following on social media, including the 4th most followed Instagram account.
Life and career
1993–2008: Early life and career beginnings
Ariana Grande-Butera was born in Boca Raton, Florida, the daughter of Joan Grande, the chief executive officer of Hose-McCann Communications, a telephone and alarm system company, and Edward Butera, a graphic design firm owner in Boca Raton. Her name was originally inspired by Princess Oriana from Felix the Cat (1959). Grande is of Italian descent. She has an older half-brother, Frankie Grande, who is an actor, dancer and producer, and she is close with her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Grande. Grande's family moved from New York to Florida when her mother was pregnant with Grande, and her parents separated when she was around 8 or 9 years old.
As a child, Grande performed with the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater, playing her first role as Annie, as well as performing in the musicals, The Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast. At the age of 8, she performed at a karaoke lounge on a cruise ship and with various orchestras such as South Florida's Philharmonic, Florida Sunshine Pops and Symphonic Orchestras, and she made her national television debut singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the Florida Panthers. She attended Pine Crest School and North Broward Preparatory School.
By age 13, she became serious about pursuing a music career, though she still concentrated on theater. When she first arrived in Los Angeles to meet with her managers, she expressed a desire to record an R&B album when she was 14: "I was like, 'I want to make an R&B album,' They were like 'Um, that's a helluva goal! Who is going to buy a 14-year-old's R&B album?!'" In 2008, Grande was cast in the supporting role of cheerleader Charlotte in the musical 13 on Broadway, for which she won a National Youth Theatre Association Award. When she joined the musical, Grande left her high school, North Broward Preparatory School, but continued to be enrolled. The school sent materials to her so she could study with tutors. She also sang various times at the New York City jazz club, Birdland.
2009–2012: Breakthrough with Victorious
Grande auditioned for the Nickelodeon television show Victorious in New York along with 13 co-star Elizabeth Gillies in 2009. In this sitcom set in a performing arts high school, Grande was cast as Cat Valentine. Grande had to dye her hair red every other week for the role because the executive producer, Dan Schneider, did not want all cast members to be brunettes, and the red hair was also a feature that the network felt would fit the personality of Cat. The show premiered in March 2010 to the second largest audience for a live-action series in Nickelodeon history with 5.7 million viewers. The role helped propel Grande to teen idol status, but she was more interested in a music career stating that acting is "fun, but music has always been first and foremost with me." Her character was compared to "Brittany Murphy's performance as the hapless Tai in Clueless" (1995) and described as being "very impressionable and easily swayed" but "generally sweet." Season two premiered in April 2011 to 6.2 million viewers, becoming the highest rated episode of Victorious. In 2010, she played the role of Miriam in the musical Cuba Libre, which was written and produced by songwriter Desmond Child.
After the first season of Victorious wrapped, Grande wanted to focus on her music career and began working on her debut album in August 2010. To strengthen her vocal range, she began working with vocal coach Eric Vetro. She made her first musical appearance on the track "Give It Up" on the soundtrack Victorious: Music from the Hit TV Show in August 2011. While filming Victorious, Grande made several recordings of herself singing covers of songs by Adele, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, and she uploaded them to YouTube. A friend of Monte Lipman, CEO of Republic Records, came across one of Grande's videos. Impressed by her vocals, he sent the links to Lipman, who signed her to a recording contract. She released her first single, "Put Your Hearts Up", in December 2011, which was recorded for a teen-oriented pop album that was not issued. She later disowned the track for its bubblegum pop sound, saying that she had no interest in recording music of that genre. The song was later certified gold by the RIAA. Also in 2011, she voiced the fairy, Princess Diaspro, in 13 episodes of the Nickelodeon version of the Italian animated television series Winx Club, appeared in Greyson Chance's music video for a song called "Unfriend You" from his album Hold On 'til the Night, portraying Chance's ex-girlfriend, and voiced the title role in the English dub of the Spanish-language animated film Snowflake, the White Gorilla.
Musical style and influences
Grande's music is generally pop and R&B, and it has elements of funk, dance and hip hop. Grande said she grew up mainly listening to urban pop and 90s music. Grande said of her debut album, Yours Truly (2013), that "half of it is a throwback and like very familiar feeling, feel good, and then half of it is something that I've created that's sort of special and unique and refreshing". The doo-wop-inspired disc was complimented for recreating the R&B "vibe and feel of the 90s" with the help of nineties R&B hit maker Babyface. The follow-up, My Everything (2014), has been described as an evolution from her first album with a new sound exploring EDM and electropop genres. The Los Angeles Times review of her third album, Dangerous Woman, commented that it is "impressive how fully she inhabits the emotional environment of each song here, even when one directly contradicts another. ... She's ... deft [at] adapting to different styles".
Grande has cited Cuban-American star Gloria Estefan as the person who inspired her to pursue a career in the music industry, after Estefan complimented a performance she saw Grande give on a cruise ship when she was eight years old. Grande cites Whitney Houston as a major influence on her career, stating that Houston has inspired her "endlessly" since she was a child. Grande also described Houston as the reason why she began singing, as well as citing Brandy Norwood as an influence, noting her "riffs" in particular.
She has also cited Madonna, Destiny's Child, Fergie, Christina Aguilera, India.Arie, Imogen Heap and Amy Winehouse as influences. Grande's debut album was inspired by artists like Amy Winehouse, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry and Madonna, with unreleased collaborations with SkyBlu of LMFAO, 3OH!3, Kool Kojak and Pebe Sebert. She named Keys, Carey and Beyoncé as female artists she tried to channel during the three years it took to create the record. Grande described Imogen Heap as one of her influences, noting Heap's "intricate" song structure. She also cites India.Arie as an influence, calling Arie's voice "heaven" and praising her lyrics. She has described actress and singer Judy Garland as being one of her childhood influences, stating that she grew up watching and listening to Garland, admiring her ability to tell "a story when she sings". Grande has stated that Big Sean, whom she dated from 2014 to 2015, is her favorite rapper and collaborator.
Grande possesses a four-octave and a note soprano vocal range, and the whistle register. With the release of her debut album, Yours Truly (2013), Grande was deemed the "mini Mariah Carey" and the "new Mariah Carey" by some critics because of her wide vocal range, sound and musical material. Speaking on the comparisons, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd of Billboard wrote that both Carey and Grande "got the talent to let their vocals do the talking." Shepherd continued, "that's not where the similarities end. ... Grande is subverting it with cute, comfortable, and on-trend dresses with a feminine slant." Grande expressed her feelings towards being compared to Mariah Carey as a "huge compliment" and a "blessing", and has cited both Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as influences for her work. She said: "[I]t's a huge compliment, but when you hear my entire album, you'll see that Mariah's sound is much different than mine." Steven J. Horowitz of Billboard said in 2014 that it was time to stop comparing Grande to Carey stating, "With her sophomore album, the "Problem" singer no longer resembles the elusive chanteuse – and that's okay."
Her vocal display at the 2013 American Music Awards earned praise from celebrities like Kelly Clarkson and Lady Gaga, when Grande sang an a cappella rendition of her song "The Way" and gave a Motown-style performance of "Tattooed Heart." During an interview with Sirius XM, American pop singer Katy Perry praised Grande, saying she has "the best female vocal in pop music today. She has literally ... the best voice live." In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Coldplay's frontman Chris Martin was asked if a duet with her was a possibility, to which he responded: "I would man, but she can sing so much better than me. I don’t want to be humiliated in that fashion, I was in the car yesterday and "Problem" was on, I was like, 'I just can’t do that.'" A CBS affiliate's critic wrote that Grande's "Into You" was the No. 2 song that "saved 2016": "We've known she had singing chops for awhile now, but Dangerous Woman puts Ariana squarely in the conversation of tour de force pop stars."
Grande was raised a Roman Catholic but abandoned Catholicism during the reign of Pope Benedict XVI, citing opposition to the church's stance on homosexuality, noting that her half-brother is gay. She has followed Kabbalah teachings since the age of twelve or earlier, along with Frankie, believing "the basis lies in the idea that if you're kind to others, good things will happen to you." A few of her songs, such as "Break Your Heart Right Back", are supportive of LGBT rights.
Grande met actor Graham Phillips in the cast of the musical 13 in 2008 and dated him until December 2011. She dated Australian YouTube comedian Jai Brooks from August 2012 to July 2013 and rekindled her relationship with Brooks in 2014 for another three months. Grande was involved in a relationship with her occasional musical collaborator Big Sean, which ended in April 2015 after eight months of dating.