Date of Birth: February 20, 1988
Not many parents would encourage their young daughter to put high school on hold for a music career. But for Rihanna, it couldn't have been a smarter move. Robyn Rihanna Fenty (better known as just Rihanna) was born in Barbados and began singing at the age of seven, even forming a musical group with two other classmates.
In 2003, she was introduced to American music producer Evan Rogers while he was vacationing in Barbados with his wife. Rihanna took her singing trio to audition for him and managed to outshine the other two performers — so Evans invited the young star to do some recording with him at his studio in New York. She eventually put together a four-song demo, which eventually made its way into the hands of hip hop mogul Jay-Z, then the president of Def Jam Recordings. Although skeptical at first, he called her in to audition and she was signed to the label that same day. Her first single "Pon de Replay" debuted in August 2005 and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the UK Singles chart. Her first full-length album, Music of Sun, released later that month and reached number 10 on the Billboard albums chart. Rihanna had become an instant star.
The following year, Rihanna released her second studio album, A Girl Like Me, which featured her very first number one single, "SOS." In 2007, her track "Umbrella" topped the charts and earned the singer her very first Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (featuring Jay-Z). Over the next couple years, Rihanna went on to release hit after hit and even managed to transform her look from young and innocent to bold and daring. She also collaborated with a number of big players in the music industry, like Eminem and Kanye West.
In November 2009, Rihanna made Q Magazine's list of top 100 acts of the century. In March 2011 she became the youngest black female to grace the American cover of Vogue and later that year, she was named "Sexiest Woman" of 2011 by Esquire magazine. She also broke records in the UK as the only female to have three Top 10 songs at once on the "UK Official Chart" as well as the only female artist ever in the chart's history to have three number one songs for five years in a row.
Rihanna's personal life was thrown front and center in 2009 when it was revealed that her long-term boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, had violently assaulted her the night before the Grammys. The incident brought an outpour of support for Rihanna, while Brown suffered a massive blow to his career. She has since become a spokesperson for domestic violence, often drawing from her own personal experiences. Although the pair parted ways, rumors have recently begun circulating that they've become rather amiable with one another again.
In the midst of an incredibly successful music career, Rihanna made her big-screen debut in Peter Berg's action-packed thriller, Battleship (2012), playing an FBI agent working with the Navy. The film also stars Hollywood A-listers Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Kitsch.