Unless you’ve been asleep for the past 20 years, it’s almost certain that you will have heard about Rihanna. Born in 1988 and raised in Barbados, she has become an international superstar singer, actress and businesswoman.

Rihanna was initially discovered by Evan Rogers whilst still at school in Barbados, and recorded “Pon de Replay” as a demo to deliver to record label Def Jam. It would actually be rapper Jay-Z who would listen to “Pon de Replay” for the first time, being President and CEO of Def Jam back in the early 00’s. Needless to say, Rihanna was signed before she could leave the building – nice work!

Instant Success

“Pon de Replay” unsurprisingly went on to be a massive club hit. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in the UK Singles chart too - and yet this was just the beginning of a booming career for Rihanna. Her first two Caribbean-inspired albums reached the top 10 in US Billboard album charts, and Good Girl Gone Bad (2007) was also a colossal turning point for Rihanna, moving towards a more pop/dance/R&B sound and a mature look. That album included BIG tracks like “Umbrella” and “Don’t Stop The Music”.

Since then, Rihanna has some incredible stats to her name: 250 million record sales worldwide, 14 number 1s, 9 Grammy Awards, 13 AMAs, 12 Billboard Music Awards and 6 Guinness World Records. It’s been nothing but success after success for Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

Unapologetic Vocals

In our Grade 5 Vocals books you will find a huge song by Rihanna called “Stay”. From the 2012 Unapologetic album, the song was released as the second single. It was written by, and features, Mikky Ekko, and the lyrics talk of temptation and the struggle to resist true love. The song is honest, confrontational and powerful, and this is something that the vocalist must focus on during performance.

“Stay” was regarded as a stand out track on an album which was an enormous success. Unapologetic debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and turned out to be Rihanna’s best-selling debut week of her entire career. It sold 4 million copies worldwide! “Stay” was Rihanna’s 24th song to enter the top 10 on the chart, which took her past Whitney Houston’s 23 top 10s. It’s safe to say that the world is in love with Rihanna’s music.

The Fenty Empire

Rihanna’s empire doesn’t end after 8 albums though - she is a staunch and savvy businesswoman. It’s estimated that Rihanna is currently the wealthiest female musician in the world, with a comfortable net worth of $600 million. WOAH. She has founded many business endeavours under the “Fenty” brand that have been hugely popular and lucrative.

Rihanna also started the Clara Lionel Foundation (named in memory of her grandparents, Clara and Lionel!) in 2012 which funds projects in education and emergency response programs all over the world. It would be impossible to sum up all the excellent work that has been done by this foundation (we’d urge you to Google it!), but you should know that Rihanna was named Harvard University’s “Humanitarian of the Year” for her efforts.

It’s time to GET INSPIRED by Rihanna’s incredible music career. Listen to some of her best tracks below.

In case you’ve missed it, you can also read our other blogs celebrating some of our favourite black artists; Stevie Wonder, Billy Cobham and Aretha Franklin.