Rihanna (born Robyn Rihanna Fenty on February 20, 1988) is a Barbadian singer with musical influences from pop, R&B, reggae, dancehall, and dance. Rihanna became known around the world with chart hits such as "Pon de Replay", "SOS", "Unfaithful"; "Break It Off", and more recently with "Umbrella" and "Shut Up and Drive".
Rihanna was born in Saint Michael, Barbados to Ronald and Monica Fenty. Her mother is Guyanese and her father is Barbadian. She has two younger brothers named Rorrey and Rajad. Rihanna went to Charles F. Broome Memorial School, a primary school in Barbados, and then on to one of Barbados' Grammar (older secondary) schools, the Combermere School, where she formed a musical trio with two of her classmates. In 2004, she won the Miss Combermere Beauty Pageant and performed in the Colours of Combermere School Show, singing Mariah Carey's "Hero". At the age of 15, Rihanna received her big break when one of her friends introduced her to music producer Evan Rogers, who was vacationing in Barbados with his wife. Rogers, along with his partner, Carl Sturken, helped Rihanna record material in the U.S. which was sent to various recording companies. One copy of Rihanna's work was sent to Jay-Z, who eventually signed her to Def Jam Records. Rihanna cites Alicia Keys, Beyonce and her Caribbean background as major musical influences. Rihanna also stated in an interview that her friend and former Island Def Jam record label artist Fefe Dobson was someone that she admired and looked up to, having a fellow artist writing, singing, and performing the music she truly loves.
Rihanna's debut album Music of the Sun, which she co-wrote, was released in August 2005. The first single released from the album was the track "Pon De Replay", which peaked at number two on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart due to considerable airplay. The second single, "If It's Lovin' That You Want", was less successful than its predecessor, peaking on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at number 36, and number 11 on the UK Singles Chart. The album itself peaked within the top ten in Canada, and the U.S., and within the top forty in the UK. It has received platinum certifications in several countries, and received a Gold certification in the U.S. by the RIAA. To further promote the album, Rihanna toured as an opening act for American pop singer Gwen Stefani. The album sold over 500,000 units in the U.S. and over 2 million worldwide. The album features many dancehall songs that harken to her island upbringing. Because her second album, A Girl Like Me was released so soon after Music of the Sun, no more singles were released.
In 2006, Rihanna participated in several endorsement deals, including for Nike and J.C. Penney. She released her second album, A Girl Like Me, in April 2006, less than eight months after the release of her first album. The album debuted at number five in the U.S. and number four in the UK. The lead single, "SOS", was used in her endorsement deal with Nike. The song became Rihanna's first number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; it also debuted at number one on the Hot Digital Songs chart. "SOS" peaked at number one in Australia and number two in the UK. The second single, entitled "Unfaithful", was written by R&B singer Ne-Yo, and addresses the feelings of guilt that the protagonist of the song faces as she cheats on her boyfriend. The song became her third top ten hit in the U.S. and in the UK. The third single "We Ride" wasn't as successful as her previous releases, failing to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, however, it became her fifth UK top 20 single, where it peaked at number 17 on that chart and peaked number one on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart. Rihanna's fourth single from the album "Break It Off" featuring Sean Paul, had already climbed to number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on airplay. It was released as a digital download on February 19, 2007, which made the song jump from number fifty-two to number ten and then eventually peak at number nine.
In total Rihanna has had 11 different number-ones on the Billboard charts and has had major success on the Hot Dance Club Play chart with four number-ones ("Pon De Replay", "SOS", "Unfaithful" and "We Ride"). When Rihanna received an endorsement deal from Clinique, she recorded a song written by Ne-Yo entitled "Just Be Happy" as part of the deal to promote their Happy fragrance. The song can be heard on her Myspace page. Rihanna also recently recorded a song called "Winning Women" with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger for P&G’s female deodorant Secret.
Rihanna made her acting debut in a cameo role in Bring It On: All or Nothing, which was released on August 8, 2006, she also appeared on an episode of American soap opera All My Children and drama Las Vegas.
Rihanna went in the studio in the early 2007 with Ne-Yo, Stargate, Timbaland among others to record her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad. The album was released on June 5, 2007. It features Jay-Z and Ne-Yo as featured artists. The first single, "Umbrella", featuring Jay-Z, was released on March 29, 2007 reaching number one in various countries, including the U.S. It was produced by Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "The Dream" Nash. Then her second single, "Shut Up and Drive", was sent to radio stations on June 5, has so far peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her third single, "Don't Stop The Music" was premiered on BET's 106 & Park on July 20, 2007. Rihanna also stated that the album has a different feel from her previous two, with more up-tempo and mid-tempo melodies.
Rihanna worked with Timbaland on three songs in the album. Justin Timberlake co-wrote and provides background vocals on "Rehab". In interviews, many have questioned the meaning and reasoning of the album title. During an interview on UK radio station Capital FM, Rihanna explains: "Bad is not sleazy. Bad has its own term to every individual and in my case it just means I’ve gotten a little rebellious on the album, broken out of my shell and I'm taking risks... Michael Jackson 'bad' kind of way." The album title reflects the difference between the old and new Rihanna. "Bad means cool, bad means funky, bad means having an attitude, bad means being edgy. This album is definitely a great representation of who I am now, and where I am in my career," she says. 7 weeks after the album was released, it had gone gold in the United States and Platinum on the United World Albums Chart.
Starting December 6, 2007 Rihanna will tour the UK in support of the album with ten shows, it is called the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour.