She is known simply as Rihanna. The pop music sensation is known around the world and is the highest-selling digital artist ever, with over 47 million singles sold. Her debut album, Music of the Sun, entered onto the Billboard Top 100 in 2005 and promptly sold 69,000 albums in its first week of release. The CD went on to eventually sell over 2 million copies. Rumor has it that she made nearly 30 million dollars last year and enjoys a fame and fortune like few others.
It wasn’t always so for 24-year-old Robyn Rihanna Fenty. She was born in Barbados to a mother who was an accountant and a father that worked as a supervisor in a clothing warehouse. She often, as a young girl, joined her father in the street as he sold clothing out of his makeshift stall.
She began singing and performing around the age of seven and was a big fan, and listener, of reggae music. Rihanna grew up the eldest of two brothers and a sister. Life in the Fenty house was chaotic and tumultuous as her father’s addictions to crack and booze caused their parents breakup when Rihanna was 14. She attended high school and formed a small singing and music group with a couple of classmates, and was even involved in a military training program at the school. The singer/songwriter Shontelle was her drill sergeant.
In 2003 she was discovered by American record producers Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken. Rogers and his wife were vacationing in Barbados when a friend of theirs, who was also a friend of the Fenty family, raved to Mrs. Rogers about the young talented kid named Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
After meeting the young 16 year old singer, Rogers invited her back to his hotel room where she auditioned for him singing a couple of songs by Destiny’s Child and Mariah Carey. Rogers decided to take her and her mother to New York to make some demo records. The first to come knocking was the new CEO at Def Jam Records, Jay-Z.
She auditioned for him at his office, and Jay-Z was so impressed that he knew that there would be no way he could not sign her and develop her. He told her that there was only two ways she was leaving his office: through the door after signing a contract or out the window.
Since her music debut in 2005, Rihanna has gone on to sell 25 million albums and over 60 million singles and Time Magazine named her one of the world’s most influential people in 2010.
Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi