Wall of Fame: Robyn 'Rihanna' Fenty


Institute of Caribbean Studies

Release Date

Monday, June 15, 2015


Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in St. Michael, Barbados to Monica and Ronald Fenty. Rihanna used singing to escape a difficult home life. She sang for family and friends and in pageants. She also formed a girl group with two other classmates and got her big break when she auditioned with her group for a friend of the family.

Evan Davis, on vacation with his Bajan wife was already a successful pop hits producer who was impressed with Rihanna's poise, beauty, and voice. He recorded several demos, co-written by Rihanna that subsequently came to the attention of Jay-Z, newly appointed Def Jam president. An in person audition was arranged, and at the end, Jay-Z refused to take no for an answer. Rihanna was signed a six-album record deal with Def Jam in 2005 and immediately relocated from Barbados to live with Evan Davis and his wife in New York.

Since her signing, Rihanna has released seven studio albums and is currently releasing singles from her eighth. Her debut album went gold, had mixed reviews and a hit single, "Pon de Replay". Her second release in 2006 was a commercial success and it contained two international smash singles, "SOS" and "Unfaithful". Rihanna's breakout third album contained the hit, "Umbrella", which earned her Grammy nominations, awards, and topped the charts in thirteen countries.

After recording four albums, Rihanna has sold over 30 million albums and 120 million hit singles and is now notable as one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She broke a Guinness world record for the most digital single sales, over 58 million as of 2012. She is dominant on social media, the most viewed female artist on YouTube, and the second most popular on social networking. She has been nominated for and won several Grammys, American Music Awards including the first ever ICON Award, BET Awards, Billboard Music Awards, British Music Industry Awards, BRIT Awards, MTV Awards, and MTV Europe Awards among many other awards and accolades.

Rihanna is also celebrated for her beauty and fashion sense. She is the highest paid female celebrity to sit front row at fashion shows. She released four collections for a British street fashion brand, River Island in 2013 and received the CFDA ICON Award in 2014. She has been featured on over 70 magazine covers and was the youngest black female to grace the cover of American Vogue and was signed as the face of Dior in March 2015 making her the first black woman to hold this position.

Rihanna created Believe Foundation in 2006 to help terminally ill children. She has performed to benefit numerous campaigns: HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment, Hurricane Sandy food bank, Children's Hospitals and had her own collection, RiRi Hearts MAC and in the VIVA MAC campaign. Rihanna has also ventured into entrepreneurship and has released five fragrances that are financial successes starting with Reb'l Fleur in 2011 and her most recent, Rogue for Men in 2014.

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