Robyn Rihanna Fenty (February 20, 1988) is a Barbadian singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, record producer, and actress. Born in Saint Michael, Barbados and raised in Bridgetown, during 2003 she recorded demo tapes under the direction of record producer Evan Rogers and signed a recording contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for its then-president, hip hop producer and rapper Jay Z. In 2005, Rihanna rose to fame with the release of her debut studio album Music of the Sun and its follow-up A Girl like Me (2006), which charted on the top 10 of the US Billboard 200 and respectively produced the successful singles “Pon de Replay”, “SOS” and “Unfaithful”.
She assumed creative control for her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007) and adopted a public image as a sex symbol while reinventing her music. Its lead single “Umbrella” became an international breakthrough in her career, as she won her first Grammy Award at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in 2008. After releasing four consecutive platinum studio albums, including the Grammy Award winner Unapologetic (2012), she was recognized as an icon of today’s music. Her eighth studio album Anti (2016) reached number one on the Billboard 200 and became one of the most streamed albums of the year. Many of her songs rank among the world’s best-selling singles of all time, including the singles “Umbrella”, “Take a Bow”, “Disturbia”, “Only Girl (In the World)”, “S&M”, “We Found Love”, “Diamonds”, “Stay” and “Work” in which she is the lead artist, and her collaborations “Live Your Life” (with T.I.), “Love the Way You Lie” and “The Monster” (both with Eminem).
Rihanna is one of the best-selling artists of all time with 230 million records sold worldwide. Rihanna is the youngest and fastest solo artist to earn fourteen number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as a current total of 31 top ten singles on the same chart. She was named the Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s decade and the top Hot 100 artist of the 2010s decade by Billboard, as well as the number-one artist in the history of their Pop Songs Chart. Additionally, she is Spotify’s most streamed female artist of all time. Among numerous awards and accolades, Rihanna has won nine Grammy Awards, twelve American Music Awards, twelve Billboard Music Awards. Furthermore, she was awarded with the inaugural American Music Award for Icon in 2013 and the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in 2016. In other ventures, Rihanna received the Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2014 and was named Harvard University’s “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Harvard Foundation in 2017. In 2012, Forbes ranked Rihanna the fourth most powerful celebrity, and she was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
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 Afro-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, which contributed to her parents’ strained marriage. As a child, she went through a lot of CT scans for the excruciating headaches she suffered: “[The doctors] even thought it was a tumor, because it was that intense.” By the time she was fourteen, Rihanna’s parents had divorced and her health began to improve. 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 future West Indies cricketer Carlos Brathwaite. 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.
2003–2005: Beginnings and debut
In 2003, Rihanna formed a musical trio with two of her classmates. She was discovered in her home country of Barbados by American record producer Evan Rogers. Without a name or any material, the girl group managed to land an audition with Rogers who commented, “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist”. Rihanna went to Rogers’ hotel room, where she performed renditions of Destiny’s Child’s “Emotion” and Mariah Carey’s “Hero”. Impressed, Rogers scheduled a second meeting with her mother present, and then invited her to his hometown in the United States to record some demo tapes which could be sent to record labels. She recorded the demo over the next year intermittently, due to only being able to record during school holidays. “Pon de Replay” and “The Last Time” were two tracks recorded for the demo tape, which were eventually included on her debut album Music of the Sun. That same year, Rihanna was signed to Rogers’ and Carl Sturken’s production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions.
Rihanna’s demo was shipped out to Def Jam Recordings, where Jay Brown, an A&R executive at the record label, was one of the first to hear the demo. Brown played the demo tape for rapper Jay Z, who had recently been appointed as president and Chief executive officer (CEO) of Def Jam. When Jay Z first heard the track “Pon de Replay”, he felt the song was too big for her. Despite being skeptical, he invited Rihanna to audition for the label. In early 2005, Rihanna auditioned for Def Jam in New York, where Jay Z introduced her to music mogul Antonio “L.A.” Reid. At the audition, she sang Whitney Houston’s cover of “For the Love of You” (1987), as well as the demo tracks “Pon de Replay” and “The Last Time”. Jay Z was absolutely certain about signing her after she performed her future hit single “Pon de Replay”. His boss L.A. Reid was also impressed with her audition, telling Jay Z not to let Rihanna leave the building until the contract was signed. Reid left it to Jay Z and his team to close the deal which resulted in a six-album record deal with Def Jam. She waited in Jay Z’s office till three in the morning to get lawyers to draft up a contract because he wanted to prevent her from signing with another label. Rihanna cancelled other meetings with record labels and relocated from Barbados to the United States to live with Rogers and his wife.
After signing with Def Jam, Jay Z and his team did the A&R for Rihanna’s debut album and spent the next three months recording and completing her debut album. She worked with different producers to complete her debut studio album, primarily Rogers and his production partner Carl Sturken. With several songs to pick as a lead single, “Pon de Replay” was chosen because it seemed liked the best song suited for a summer release. In May 2005, her debut single, “Pon de Replay”, was released which charted successfully worldwide, peaking in the top five in fifteen countries, including at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart. The song became a big club hit in the United States, peaking at number-one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs.
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. 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. Aside from her work in 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.
On February 8, 2009, Rihanna’s scheduled performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards was canceled. Reports surfaced that then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown had physically assaulted 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 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 pleaded 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 Dodgers baseball player Matt Kemp. Rihanna has also dated Canadian rapper Drake. 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. In 2015, Rihanna briefly dated Travis Scott, a rapper from Missouri City, Texas.
Rihanna has stated that she believes in God and that she focuses on obeying God and reading her Bible. She is a fan of Protestant charismatic minister Joyce Meyer. In 2015, Rihanna told Harper’s Bazaar that her faith in God has helped her throughout her career.
During her performance at the NCAA March Madness Music Festival, Rihanna expressed her disagreement with Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act that allows companies and individuals to use their religious beliefs as protection, in case of being accused of discrimination against LGBT people. Rihanna along with numerous other high-profile celebrities featured in an online video titled “23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black in America”. The video was released in partnership with the We Are Here Movement and called for action against police brutality. In January 2017, Rihanna participated in the 2017 Women’s March, which took place in New York and protests the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Following the announcement of Trump’s Executive Order 13769 banning citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States, Rihanna expressed disgust for the order and condemned the US President’s act.
According to the New York Post, Rihanna filed a lawsuit against Peter Gunis and the firm Berdon LLP for $35 million in 2012 but settled out of court for more than $10 million in 2014. 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 13 on the list with a total earning of $43 million due to endorsements such as vita coco. In 2015 Rihanna earned $26 million, which resulted in her net worth rising to $160 million by 2016. In July 2016, Forbes magazine placed Rihanna at number 13 on their list of highest paid celebrities, earning $75 million between 2015 and 2016. Rihanna currently lives in Manhattan, New York City and owns a penthouse there that is worth $14 million.
At A Glance:
Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty
February 20, 1988 (age 30)
Saint Michael, Barbados
Occupation – Singer songwriter rapper dancer record producer model actress
Years active – 2003–present
Net worth – US$230 million (est. 2017)
Website – rihanna.com
Musical career Genres – R&B pop reggae hip hop dance-pop
Labels – Def Jam, Roc Nation, SRP Westbury Road.
Associated acts – Drake, Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Calvin Harris, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown.