Robyn Rihanna Fenty ( /riˈɑːnə/ ree-AH-nə or /riˈænə/ ree-AN-ə; born February 20, 1988), known mononymously as Rihanna, is a Barbadian recording artist and actress. Born in Saint Michael, Barbados, Rihanna moved to the United States at age 16 to pursue a recording career under the guidance of record producer Evan Rogers. She subsequently signed a contract with Def Jam Recordings.
In 2005, Rihanna released her debut studio album, Music of the Sun, which peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200 chart and features the Billboard Hot 100 top five hit single "Pon de Replay". In less than a year, she released her second studio album, A Girl Like Me (2006), which peaked within the top-five in the United States, and produced her first Hot 100 number one single, "SOS". Rihanna's third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad released in May 2007, spawned the international hit singles "Umbrella", "Don't Stop the Music", "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia", with an additional four singles being released. The album was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella". Her fourth studio album Rated R (2009), produced the top-ten singles "Russian Roulette", "Hard" and "Rude Boy", with the latter achieving the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Loud (2010), Rihanna's fifth studio album, spawned the number-one hits "Only Girl (In the World)", "What's My Name?" and "S&M". "We Found Love" served as the lead single from Rihanna's sixth studio album, Talk That Talk (2011). The song was an international success, topping the charts in more than twenty countries.
Rihanna's work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including five American Music Awards, eighteen Billboard Music Awards, two BRIT Awards and five Grammy Awards. She has achieved a total of eleven number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the youngest solo artist to achieve the feat. Billboard named Rihanna the Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s decade, and ranked her as the seventeenth artist of the same decade. She is the highest-selling digital artist in US history, having sold 47,571,000 singles as of 2012. Furthermore, she has also shipped 7.3 million album units in the United States as of September 2011. Some of her singles have earned their place on the list of best-selling singles worldwide. Rihanna has sold more than 25 million albums and 60 million singles worldwide since the beginning of her career in 2005, which makes her one of the best selling artists of all time. In June 2011, Forbes reported that Rihanna had earned $29 million between May 2010 and May 2011. In 2012, American magazine Time named Rihanna one of the most influential people in the world. Rihanna was also ranked the fourth most powerful celebrity in 2012 with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012, according to Forbes.
1988–2004: Early life and career beginnings
Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados. Her mother is Monica Braithwaite, a retired Afro-Guyanese accountant, and her father is Ronald Fenty, 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 by different mothers from his previous relationships. Growing up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Bridgetown and selling clothes with her father on a street stall, Rihanna's childhood was deeply affected by her father's addiction to crack cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana, and her parents' turbulent marriage ended 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 then the Combermere High School, where she 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.
Rihanna's career began through her association with American record producer Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers; she met Rogers through mutual friends in Barbados in December 2003. Rogers soon asked Rihanna to come to his hotel room, where she performed renditions of the songs "Emotion" and "Hero". This impressed Rogers, who then took her on various trips to New York, where she was accompanied by her mother, Monica, to record some demo tapes which could be sent to record labels. Rihanna was signed to Rogers' and Sturken's production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions, who assigned her a lawyer and manager before the completed demo tape was distributed to various record labels around the world in late 2004. In February 2005, the president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings Jay-Z requested to meet Rihanna and she auditioned for him and industry executive L.A. Reid, performing Whitney Houston's version of "For the Love of You" as well as the original songs "Pon de Replay" and "The Last Time". On the same day of the audition, Rihanna signed a six-album record deal with Def Jam Recordings, later relocating from Barbados to New York to live with Rogers and his wife.
2005–07: Music of the Sun and A Girl Like Me
Following her signing, Rihanna spent three months recording and completing her debut album and collaborated with rapper Memphis Bleek on his fourth studio album 534. The album featured production from Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate and Poke & Tone. Her debut single, "Pon de Replay", was released on August 22 2005 and charted highly across the world, peaking at number two on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. Her debut album, Music of the Sun, was first released later that month and went on to sell over two million copies worldwide and received a Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of over 500,000 units to retailers in the United States. The album received mixed reviews by music critics. Rolling Stone magazine gave it 2.5 out of 5 stars and described as lacking the replay value, ingenuity and rhythm of the single with "generic vocal hiccups and frills" of US R&B inflecting upon her "Caribbean charm". Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described the album as a "glut of teen R&B chanteuses " and described her lead single "Pon de Replay" 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. In October 2005, Rihanna struck an endorsement deal with Secret Body Spray; her first of many.
A month after the release of her debut album, she began working on her second studio album. The album contained production from Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate, J. R. Rotem and label-mate singer-songwriter Ne-Yo. A Girl Like Me was released in April 2006, less than eight months after its predecessor. Its lead single, "SOS", was an international success following its March 2006 release as it charted in the top five in Canada, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and reached number one in the U.S. and Australia. Critical response to the album was mixed; Rolling Stone magazine commented "Like her filler-packed debut album, this similar but superior follow-up doesn't deliver anything else as ingenious as its lead single." The album entered charts across the world, peaking at number one in Canada and at number five in both the UK and the U.S., where it sold 115,000 copies in its first week. "Unfaithful", the album's second single release, charted in various territories, reaching number one in Portugal, Canada and Switzerland. "We Ride" and "Break It Off", which featured 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, as well as supporting The Pussycat Dolls on the PCD World Tour and performing alongside Jay-Z and Ne-Yo on the Rock Tha Block Tour. Rihanna created her Believe Foundation in 2006 to help terminally ill children. She also made her acting debut in a cameo role in the straight-to-DVD film Bring It On: All or Nothing, which was released on August 8, 2006.
2007–09: Good Girl Gone Bad and re-release
For her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna embraced a new musical direction through uptempo dance tracks produced by the likes of Timbaland, will.i.am and Sean Garrett. First released in May 2007, the album topped the charts in multiple countries including the UK, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Russia and at number two in the US and Australia. The album received positive reviews by critics, becoming the most critically acclaimed of her first three albums. The album's lead single, "Umbrella", topped the charts in thirteen countries and stayed at number one in the UK for ten consecutive weeks; this made it the longest-running number one single since Wet Wet Wet's single "Love Is All Around" spent fifteen weeks at the top in 1994. It became Rihanna's first single to be named one of the best-selling singles worldwide, having sold over 6.6 million singles since being released. The songs "Shut Up and Drive", "Hate That I Love You" and "Don't Stop The Music" were also released as singles from the album. In support of the album, she kicked off her second headlining tour, the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour in September 2007, with a total of 80 shows across the US, Canada and Europe. The same month, Rihanna became the official face of tourism for Barbados and subsequently featured in many of their advertising campaigns; she holds the honorary title of Ambassador for Culture and Youth in Barbados. The 50th Grammy Awards saw Rihanna nominated for a string of awards, winning for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella" alongside Jay-Z.
Throughout 2008, Rihanna performed on the Glow in the Dark Tour alongside Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D. On February 20, 2008, Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson presented the singer with several gifts at a national concert in an event named "Rihanna Day". To help raise awareness and combat HIV/AIDS, Rihanna and other public figures designed clothing for the February 2008 H&M Fashion Against AIDS line. Her third album's reissue, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, was released in June 2008 with three new songs; Disturbia, Take a Bow and the Maroon 5 duet "If I Never See Your Face Again". All three were released as singles and charted highly, reaching peak positions across the world. In August 2008, Rihanna and Beyoncé Knowles, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and a host of other female singers recorded the charity single, "Just Stand Up!", the theme song to the anti-cancer campaign Stand Up to Cancer. "Live Your Life", Rihanna's duet with the rapper T.I., was first released in November 2008 and peaked in the top five in Austria, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, the UK and Australia, reaching number one in New Zealand and the U.S. A remix album, Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes, was released in January 2009. Good Girl Gone Bad has shipped over 2.7 million units in the United States alone, receiving a two-times-platinum certification from the RIAA and marking Rihanna's best-selling album to date in the country. Since its release, Good Girl Gone Bad has sold over seven million copies worldwide.
2009–10: Domestic violence case and Rated R
Rihanna in Paris
in April 2010
On February 8, 2009, Rihanna's scheduled performance at the 51st Grammy Awards was cancelled. Reports later surfaced regarding an altercation with then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, who 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 Rihanna had sustained visible injuries — an organization known as STOParazzi proposed a law called "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 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 the felony assault. In exchange for his plea Brown received five years probation and was ordered to stay fifty yards away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then would be reduced to ten yards. However, in February 2011, at the request of Brown's lawyer, Judge Patricia Schnegg modified with Rihanna's consent the restraining order to a "level one order," allowing both singers to appear at awards shows together in the future.
Returning to music after the assault, Rihanna collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on "Run This Town", which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, number one in the UK, and reached the top ten in ten other countries after its July 2009 release. Her fourth studio album, Rated R, was released in November 2009. Critical response was favorable; Rolling Stone claimed that Rihanna "transformed her sound and made one of the best pop records of the year". The album's lead single, "Russian Roulette", received commercial success, reaching number one in Norway and Switzerland and making the top ten in sixteen other countries. This was followed by the release of "Hard" with Young Jeezy and "Rude Boy"; the latter became the biggest worldwide success from the album, topping the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks, as well as claiming top ten positions in twenty-two other countries. Two other singles were released from Rated R; "Rockstar 101" with Slash and "Te Amo". Rated R: Remixed was released in the spring of 2010 and featured ten tracks from the album remixed by Chew Fu. To further promote the album, she embarked on her second worldwide tour, the Last Girl on Earth Tour. At the 52nd Grammy Awards, "Run This Town" won 'Best Rap Song' and 'Best Rap/Sung Collaboration'.
2010–12: Loud, Talk That Talk and theatrical film roles
During the summer of 2010, Rihanna collaborated with rapper Eminem on "Love the Way You Lie", which was a major worldwide success, reaching number one in over twenty countries worldwide. The song became Rihanna's seventh U.S. number one of her career, making her the female artist with the fifth-most number ones in the chart's history. Despite reaching number two, the song became the biggest-selling song of 2010 in the UK, and the first Rihanna's singles to sell over one million copies in the country. With sales of over nine million to date, it is one of the best-selling singles worldwide and Rihanna's biggest-selling single worldwide. She also lent her vocals to "All of the Lights", a single from Kanye West's album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, alongside John Legend, The-Dream, Elly Jackson, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kid Cudi, and Elton John. In October 2010, she released an eponymous book and announced that she was parting ways with manager Marc Jordan and would henceforth be managed by Jay-Z's Roc Nation. The following month saw the release of Loud, Rihanna's fifth studio album. Its lead single, "Only Girl (In the World)", reached number one in fourteen countries including Australia, Canada, the UK and US. The album's second single, "What's My Name?", featuring Drake, also reached number one in both the U.S. and UK, making Rihanna the first female solo artist to have five number one singles in the United Kingdom in consecutive years. The song reached number one on the U.S. Hot 100 before "Only Girl (In the World)", making it the first time in the chart's history that an album's lead single reached number one after the second. "S&M", featuring Britney Spears, "Man Down", "California King Bed" and "Cheers (Drink to That)" were also released as singles.January 2011 saw the release of Rihanna's first fragrance; "Reb'l Fleur". The following month, "Only Girl (In the World)" won the award for 'Best Dance Recording' at the 53rd Grammy Awards. In June 2011, Rihanna embarked on the Loud Tour and broke the record for selling out ten nights at the The O2 Arena in London, the most sold out shows for a female artist in the venue's history. In October 2011, Nicki Minaj released the collaboration "Fly" featuring Rihanna from her album Pink Friday which peaked within the top twenty in both the US and UK.
Rihanna's sixth album, Talk That Talk, was released in November 2011 in both deluxe and standard editions. The lead single, "We Found Love", topped charts in eighteen countries worldwide, peaking in the top ten in thirty countries and breaking a string of records worldwide. "You Da One" was released as the second single from the album and was a moderate success, reaching the top twenty in both the UK and US. "Talk That Talk", a single featuring Jay-Z, was followed by the simultaneous release of two collaborations between Rihanna and her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown; remixes of her "Birthday Cake" and his "Turn Up the Music" that received negative responses because of the pair's history of domestic violence. "Where Have You Been", the album's most recent single, has so far peaked in the top twenty of various countries. Her first fashion range, for Armani, became available in November 2011. In early 2012, two collaborations featuring Rihanna were released; Coldplay's "Princess of China" from the album Mylo Xyloto and Drake's "Take Care" from his album of the same name.
February 2012 saw the release of "Rebelle", Rihanna's second fragrance. Her first theatrical feature film, Rihanna appeared as Petty Officer (GM2) Cora Raikes in the 2012 film Battleship from director Peter Berg. Loosely based on the game of the same name, both the film and Rihanna's performance received mixed-to-negative reviews; The New York Times claimed she was "just fine in the rather generic role". Her performance earned her a Teen Choice Award for "Choice Breakout in a Film". She appeared in Katy Perry: Part of Me, a 3D documentary-concert film centering on singer Katy Perry, and is scheduled to play herself in the apocalyptic comedy End of the World. On June 13, 2012, she placed third as the most-played artist of 2011 in the United Kingdom by the PPL.
Rihanna's first TV programme, Styled to Rock, will be first aired in the UK on Sky Living in August 2012. The ten-week series will showcase herself as she helps up-and-coming British designers with their own clothing lines, following them as they create clothes for some of the world's biggest superstars, including Rihanna. Nicola Roberts, Lysa Cooper and Henry Holland will also be a part of the show.