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Rihanna - Biography

The Barbadian singer is one of the biggest-selling female artists in history.

Rihanna attending a Fenty Beauty launch
Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
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Who is Rihanna?

Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known by her stage name Rihanna, was born in Barbados in 1988. Her childhood was deeply affected by her parents' marital problems and her dad's battle with drug and alcohol addictions, which eventually led to their divorce when she was 14. 

After his recovery, father and daughter grew close again and Rihanna still refers to him as the "coolest person on the planet". As a teenager Rihanna turned to music to escape her home troubles and formed a musical trio with two of her classmates. 

Rihanna's rise to fame

Her big break came in 2003 when friends introduced her and fellow bandmates to record producer Evan Rogers, who was on holiday in Barnados with his wife. When the group auditioned for Evan, he later told Entertainment Weekly that "the minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn't exist." 

Over the course of the next year, Rihanna travelled to Rogers' home in Connecticut to work on her demo album. With the help of songwriter Carl Sturken she made a four-song demo that included "Pon de Replay" which would become her first hit single. Rihanna officially relocated when she was 16.

 "When I left Barbados, I didn't look back," she said. "I wanted to do what I had to do, even if it meant moving to America." Soon after, her demo fell into the hands of recording company Def Jam. She auditioned for them and legendary rapper Jay-Z, who was so impressed he signed her almost immediately. "We made a little Godfather joke," recalls Jay-Z. "We said the only way she could leave was through the window."

Eight months later Rihanna released her debut album, Music of the Sun, which went platinum despite less-than-rave reviews from Rolling Stone magazine who deemed it "lacking of ingenuity and rhythm." Her follow-up album, A Girl Like Me, fared better with critics in 2006 and included the hit SOS. Rihanna went through a total transformation from teen pop singer to ultimate superstar with her third album Good Girl Gone Bad. It featured hit single Umbrella that won her her first Grammy Award. She flaunted her sex symbol status in her next four albums, with songs entitled "Hard", "Rude Boy", "S&M" and the like, and frequently topped Sexiest Women Alive lists for her raunchy stage performances and music videos. 

Which awards has Rihanna won? 

Rihanna has been labelled one of the most consistent hit makers in pop music for her chart-topping seven albums and collaborations with legends Jay-Z, Enimen, Kanye West and Calvin Harris. She has won countless awards including Grammys, Brits, MTV awards and World Music Awards among others. 

Rihanna's dating life

Her love life has been somewhat less plain sailing than her music career. Rihanna started dating Chris Brown late 2007 and the couple remained intensely private about their relationship. But just after midnight on February 8, a 911 call was made after a pre-Grammy party that the pair had attended. When the police arrived on the scene, Rihanna was found distressed and hurt. 

It was reported that she had found texts from another girl on his phone and after repeatedly pressing him on the subject, an argument sparked which left Rihanna assaulted, even losing consciousness at one point. After the incident, Rihanna admitted feeling vulnerable. "I put my guard up so hard," she said. "I didn't want people to see me cry or feel bad for me. It was a very vulnerable time in my life, and I refused to let that be the image." 

How many children does she have?

The 'Umbrella' singer, 35, and partner A$AP Rocky welcomed their first child  — a boy whose name remains a mystery — in May 2022, and are awaiting the second soon. 

The award-winning singer confirmed her second pregnancy to the world in 2023 via an internet-breaking performance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Rihanna's charity work

She is eager to put her fame and fortune to good use, and is involved in many charity ventures. She created The Believe Foundation in 2006 to help terminally ill children, joined H&M for their Fashion Against AIDS campaign, and was the face of the Gucci UNICEF campaign.

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