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Rihanna brief biography

Updated on September 26, 2013


  • Rihanna had a lot of exposure to reggae music and began singing by the age of 7.
  • She has credited Bob Marley and Madonna as both being major influences for her.


Born Robin Rihanna Fenty in Barbados, the international superstar singer adopted Rihanna as her stage name. Her fans often nickname her RiRi. Rihanna is just 25 years old.

(Another well known Fenty is former mayor Fenty of Washington, DC said to be one of Rihanna's relatives [a cousin]).

Rihanna rose to fame by the age of 18 through sending demo tapes to numerous recording studios/ music production companies.

Rihanna flew to the United States to present demo tapes and auditon live/ sing songs at various locations especially in New York. She had the support of her mother as she pursued a singing career at such a young age.

She had seemingly enjoyed school and was also involved in a youth military team where singer and songwriter Shontelle was her drill sergeant. It's said that Rihanna had hoped to complete high school but pursued her music career instead as the opportunity was presented.

Rihanna was signed to Def Jam Recording studios when her demo tapes were played for the company president Jay-Z.

Young Rihanna

Rihanna as a child
Rihanna as a child | Source

An at times difficult childhood

  • Rihanna came from humble beginnings where she sold goods in a stall on the street with her father.

  • Rihanna's father struggled with various forms of substance abuse and there was frequent domestic discord in her household.

  • On one occasion after her move to the United States and rise to fame, she appeared on the Tyra Banks talk show and discussed this issue in some detail. She said that the huge arguments in her household caused her such massive migraines that she thought she needed to seek medical attention for them.

  • During the Tyra Banks talk show interview, Rihanna also discussed some lighter subjects to lighten the mood. For example, she candidly shared that though she had passed the age of eighteen, she did not yet have a driver's license and she was looking forward to getting one. Tyra Banks shared that she also did not drive and they comically related with each other on that subject.


Rihanna near the start of her US singing career
Rihanna near the start of her US singing career | Source


Rihanna during the earlier years of her singing career.
Rihanna during the earlier years of her singing career. | Source

Career beginnings

  • At the beginning of her career, in addition to being able to sing really well, young, fresh faced and beautiful, Rihanna had star quality and appeal.

  • Hailing from Barbados, she seemed to be marketed as an island girl with great rhythm, dance moves and a lovely voice. Her music videos showed images of beautiful beaches (sand, sea and sky) and fun dance parties.

  • Pon De Replay, SOS, and If it's Loving that you Want are examples of her first well known songs, and illustrate her image at that time.

Some Pon De Replay lyrics

"Hey Mr. DJ...pon de replay. Hey Mr. DJ, turn the music up....

Everybody... if you feel me, put your hands up to the ceiling.....

Hey Mr. DJ turn the music up right now."

Some S.O.S. lyrics

"You got me calling out for help. S.O.S. please someone help me. It's not healthy for me to feel this way.... I keep tossing and turning.. can't sleep at night."..."This time please, someone come and rescue me. You got me losing it." "I'm lost. You got me looking for the rest of me. Got the best of me. You know I'm losing it.."

"Your love is testing me.. got the best of me.. you know I'm losing it."

Some lyrics for "If It's Loving That You Want"

"If it's loving that you want, baby take a walk with me"..."If it's loving that you need, baby I can be your girl." If it's loving that you need, baby come and share my world."....

"If it's loving that you want you should make me your girl. If it's loving that you need baby come and share my world. (I got what you need so come share my world)."

"..Just call me whenever you're lonely. I can be your friend. I can be your homie."

Great Dance Hits

Rihanna's music including the three dance hits mentioned above especially Pon De Replay and S.O.S. was very influential. Various groups of young people including cheerleaders and dance troupes or young students performing in talent shows would use the music in their choreography.

A Superstar

Rihanna rose to internationally fame 'fast and furiously'. According to Wikipedia, she signed a six album recording contract with Jay-Z and she worked quickly and continuously to complete them. She had many hit single songs and albums with the many songs reaching the top ten of the Billboard top 100 songs. Accumulating six grammy awards and numerous other music awards in these last seven years, between the ages of 18 and 25, Rihanna has achieved recognition for reaching the highest heights of musical fame in the shortest period of time. It is said that in the 2011-2012, her salary was around 53 million dollars.

Transformation / more adult image

As Rihanna catapulted to fame quickly from the years 2004-2005 onward, she also grew up before our eyes. She became edgier and more sexualized with her image. If it was not blatant enough, her 2008 album was also named Good Girl Gone Bad to emphasize the move away from the more innocent and unassuming image.

Perhaps the most notable song on the 2008 album was Umbrella, an excellent and catchy tune that went to the top of the charts around the world. A collaboration with the Dream, the song alludes to protection from harm and some have speculated it as a nod / a tribute to military service men and women.

Rihanna fan?

Are you a fan of Rihanna's music?

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Some Umbrella Lyrics

"When the sun shines, we shine forever...Said I'll always be your friend. Know I'm gonna stick it out 'til the end."

"Now that it's raining more than ever, know that we still have each other. You can stand under my umbrella. You can stand under my umbrella ella ella eh eh eh. Under my umbrella ella ella eh eh eh."...



As the years have past and Rihanna has performed song after song to fulfill her contract, many of her songs have been much darker and edgier than what her fans were originally used to.

Many people have defended her and said that she has just been growing up as she went from an eighteen year old to a twenty-five year old and that has been reflecting in her music and appearance. Some felt that there was no need for such criticism and judgement because many artists approach dark themes in their creativity (not to mention the creators of horror stories).

Some songs have included:

  • Disturbia
  • Rude Boy
  • We Found Love
  • S & M
  • Man Down

The songs have included over-sexualized imagery in music videos, drug use, dysfunctional love and themes such as a victim shooting and killing her rapist in Man Down.

Some people sensing the darkness in her music even equated it to evil and those most paranoid of them began developing conspiracy theories regarding the rumored Illuminati.

In today's age of internet, all celebrities including the entertainers such as singers are able to get instant feedback. They know what their fans or the people who do not like them are thinking of them. There are YouTube comments, Twitter rants, blogs and more.

Many will state just facts about famous people to share information but many people will also make up lies, denigrate them and humiliate them. Many famous people have reported their own refusal to look on the internet at stories being said about them. Ignoring such things helps them to stay emotionally grounded.

Nevertheless, most famous people will still find out what the public generally thinks of them via whatever sources from word of mouth to newspaper.

Rihanna seems perfectly aware that some have begun to think of her as an "Illuminati Princess" taking it all the way back to her Umbrella music video, analyzing it and searching for inappropriate symbolism.

She has fired back with what can be presumed to be response videos where newspaper clippings with the wording "Illuminati Princess" are written on the wall in the background. Is this her way of just claiming ownership of what people are saying and keeping them guessing?


Do you think Rihanna is involved?

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Why so much darkness? Alluding to Rihanna's personal life?

There had been subsequent interviews where Rihanna explained that her creativity was affected by turmoil that she herself was experiencing in her life and the music was an outlet. She also had tattoos of pistols to add to the idea that some people thought she was promoting sex and violence.

Much of the world knew of Rihanna's high profile relationship and break up with Chris Brown, another singer. Instead of her being allowed the privacy she needed, their domestic violence situation was broadcasted to the world including leaked internet photos of an injured Rihanna's face.

There was subsequent action for the possible enactment of Rihanna's law to ensure that domestic violence victims are treated with adequate decorum and given the privacy they need.

After a public humiliation, Rihanna was further criticized in the public because after sometime, she wanted to reunite with Chris Brown who had a restraining order against him at one point but whom she still loved. Many people thought that the idea of her getting back together with him was a terrible one. She ignored those public sentiments nevertheless and did get back together with Chris Brown. They broke up again later on in early 2013 and Rihanna has been linked to dating others including musical artist Drake.

Life goes on

There have been some rough patches but Rihanna is again rising to the top with very catchy tunes and songs that people just love including Diamonds and the sad but beautiful ballad Stay.

As the title of one of her earlier songs Live Your Life goes, she is living her life.

Rihanna was one of Oprah Winfrey's first guests to be interviewed at OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network) when Ms. Winfrey started this network after ending the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Rihanna and Oprah Winfrey sat down for candid discussion.

  • Rihanna seemed very down to earth and humble during the interview.
  • She blushed at discussing the idea of being thought of as one of the sexiest women in America.
  • Instead she seemed to enjoy talking more about her family and she spoke about the new house she bought for her mother in Barbados.
  • Oprah Winfrey had the opportunity to accompany Rihanna as she surprised her mother with the beautiful house.


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    • Journey * profile imageAUTHOR

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi MsDora and teaches12345, thank you both very much for posting comments. I had been hesitant about beginning to write celebrities' bios because so much of the information you get from the media is based on gossip that I don't like. I like to see celebrities give interviews on talk shows and speak about their lives on their own behalf.

      MsDora, from the beautiful St. Kitts, yes Rihanna is an island girl from Barbados and my own parents are from Trinidad and Tobago too. My Dad's ancestry has roots in Barbados before migrating to Trinidad. So, we're all island girls! (Me, sort of:) "Once removed" as I was born in the USA. lol :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      All I knew about Rihanna was the abuse by Chris Brown. Didn't even know she was an island girl like me. Thank you for the information on her history and present life.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      She is such a beautiful woman. Her background was sad but she used her experience to overcome and to make a better future. Thanks for sharing this artist's history and highlights.

    • Journey * profile imageAUTHOR

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi LisaMarie724, thanks a lot for your comment.

    • LisaMarie724 profile image

      Lisa Stover 

      5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Interesting hub on an even more interesting person.


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