Full Name: Robyn Rihanna Fenty
Stage Name: Rihanna
Date of Birth: Feb. 20 1988
Born & Raised: Barbados (Parish of St. Micheal)
Label Signed To: Def Jam Records
Years Active: 2005 - present
Press Release: proceed
(2005) There's nothing like the warm spirit of the Caribbean to re-energize a dry, stale season of the same old song and dance. And with summer fast approaching there couldn't be a better time for Barbados-born singer Rihanna to break into an industry that is eager to celebrate the next big thing.
Thanks to multi-platinum island-born superstars like Sean Paul, Shaggy and Elephant Man, the mainstream has been primed for a rhythmic female star to step into the forefront of popular music. Besides ripping traditional reggae tracks like a seasoned dancehall queen, the stunning 17-year-old Rihanna possesses a powerful singing voice that conjures up feelings and experiences way beyond her years.
It's no wonder that all it took was a quick audition with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, President and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, for the green-eyed beauty to solidify a recording contract with the multi-million dollar record company. While that performance ended up changing her life forever, the sweet natured island girl laughs at her own naiveté at the time. "I was in the lobby shaking!," remembers Rihanna with a healthy dose of her Bajan accent hanging onto every one of her words. "I saw just a little bit of Jay's face down the hall and I was just like, 'Oh my God!' I had never met a celebrity, and to meet a celebrity who's also the president of the label, that was crazy!!"
Luckily Rihanna was able to shake the jitters as soon as she started her impromptu showcase, a performance that forced her future label bosses to sign the deal before she walked out of their offices. "We were there until 4:30 in the morning closing the deal. Every time I signed my name I was just smiling." Growing up in the parish of St. Michael, Barbados, it never occurred to Rihanna that one day she would be sitting in the company of mega music moguls.
Before moving to the US in 2005, Rihanna lived somewhat of a simple life on her home island where she attended high school and like most teenage girls sang songs for fun with her friends. Aside from winning her school's beauty and talent pageant, Rihanna never realized how talented she really was until she attracted the attention of a New York City music producer named Evan Rogers.
Evan and his partner, Carl Sturken, have produced hits for such artists as Christina Aguilera, Ruben Studdard and Kelly Clarkson. Evan and his Barbadian wife Jackie were vacationing over Christmas near Rihanna’s hometown and through a mutual friend were introduced to the young diva. After hearing her belt out a couple of tunes Evan realized Rihanna’s future star power and invited her to New York to record some tracks.
Rihanna, Evan and Carl ended up creating close to a dozen songs. Together they pulled inspiration from the dancehall and reggae that are embedded in Rihanna’s rich musical culture and fused it with a fresh R&B soul sound - a mixture Rihanna likes to compare to one of her favorite Caribbean dishes, callaloo. "It's like a gumbo or a stew," explains Rihanna. "My music is mostly Caribbean beats mixed with R&B. I don't want to be pigeon holed into being just a dance artist because I can sing too. I have ballads on the album as well as upbeat tracks."
Rihanna’s debut album promises to have all the ingredients that make musical magic. And like her influences Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Mariah Carey, Rihanna is a talented songwriter who has co-written much of her album. "Music is in my D.N.A.!" exclaims the bright eyed singer. Her first single "Pon De Replay" is sure to mash up dancehalls worldwide with Rihanna’s soul stirring vocals demanding the DJ to play her song again and again 'til it touches every single person within earshot. With tracks featuring both Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel, Rihanna is guaranteed to supply some serious heat for both radio and clubs nationwide.
Rihanna is indeed living a real life Cinderella story. "If I hadn't met Evan and Carl I might have just been dreaming forever," she muses. "I am so thankful for everything they’ve done for me." Soon the whole world will be giving both Rihanna and her producers thanks.
(2006) If nothing else, it has been an eventful and eye opening year for Barbados born songstress Rihanna. In addition to recording one of the most popular singles of 2005, the hypnotic "Pon De Replay" (which bass bumped out of more car windows while igniting a slew of barbeques last summer), she won over the masses with her charming Bajan persona.
"So much has happened in my life, I feel like I've grown five years in a year," she gushes. No doubt, by the time Def Jam Records released Rihanna's debut album Music of the Sun, it was obvious that this young woman was more than a one-hit wonder. With a work ethic reminiscent of Motown sisters back in the day when soul reigned supreme, Rihanna traveled throughout the world.
2005 saw Rihanna rocking the mic on tour with Gwen Stefani, making crowds sweat in Japan, posing for magazine covers in Los Angeles and shooting her first film role for Bring It On Yet Again. This was a long way from the quiet life she led in Barbados in the parish of St.Michael. Robyn Rihanna Fenty has come through her musical initiation process unscathed. And now she is poised for everything that 2006 may hold as she readies to do it again with her sophomore release A Girl Like Me.
"I grew up so much this past year. I had no choice. To pursue my dreams, and with their support, I left my entire family in Barbados to move to the States. It was a little scary to have no friends or family and all of a sudden step into a recording studio," recalled Rihanna.
"2005 taught me the dedication and responsibility it takes to make this dream a reality. Waking up at 5:00 am to start rehearsals, the training, the schoolwork, interviews, video shoots, going all day; it always seemed glamorous but it is real work. My love for music and singing will never change but the rose colored glasses are no longer so rosy."
"Many times over the past year, I didn't have anyone my age with me. When recording this album, I wanted it to seem like I was having a personal conversation with girls my age," says the eighteen-year-old singer. "People think, because we're young, we aren't complex, but that's not true. We deal with life and love and broken hearts in the same way a woman a few years older might. My goal on A Girl Like Me was to find songs that express the many things young women want to say, but might not know how."
Dropping from the harmonic heavens to the groovalistic dance floor, Rihanna has returned with another single that will have listeners begging the d.j. to play it one more time. Produced by Jason Rotem, the sizzling "S.O.S." is bringing the summer heat early this year. With its hypnotic beat and enticing melody, "S.O.S." utilizes the electro-funk of Soft Cell's '80s classic "Tainted Love" to create a soulful anthem of young love.
"I got excited when I first heard this track and three days later, it was recorded," Rihanna says. Turning heads with its rebel sound, "S.O.S." has been used as the theme song for their NIKE latest women's line, which can be viewed on NikeWomen.com. "Making that commercial was yet another new experience," she says. "It took six days to shoot, but working with choreographer Jamie King (Madonna and Shakira) was amazing."
Focusing on progressing as an artist, Rihanna ...