Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, on February 20, 1988, in Barbados, Rihanna signed with Def Jam records at age 16 and in 2005 released her first albumMusic of the Sun, which sold more than two million copies worldwide. She went on to release more albums and an array of hit songs, including “Unfaithful,” “Umbrella,” “Disturbia,” “Take a Bow,” “Diamonds” and “We Found Love.” A global pop star with an unrelentingly edgy image, Rihanna has also won multiple industry accolades, including Grammys and MTV awards.
Rihanna also struggled with crippling headaches for several years during her childhood, a condition she attempted to hide from her friends and classmates so that they would not think she was abnormal. “I never expressed how I felt,” she remembered. “I always kept it in. I would go to school … you would never know there was something wrong with me.”
Move to U.S.
As a teenager, Rihanna turned to singing as a release from her troubles at home. She formed a girl group with two classmates; when they were 15 years old, they scored an audition with music producer Evan Rodgers, who was visiting the island with his Barbadian wife. Rogers was awed by the precociously beautiful and talented Rihanna, to the unfortunate detriment of her two friends. “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist,” he admitted.
Less than a year later, when Rihanna was only 16 years old, she left Barbados to move in with Rogers and his wife in Connecticut and work on recording a demo album. “When I left Barbados, I didn’t look back,” Rihanna recalled. “I wanted to do what I had to do, even if it meant moving to America.”
Dance producer Calvin Harris went from posting his music online to producing material for Rihanna and selling millions under his own name within a few years. A talented remixer and DJ as well, he has won Grammys and MTV VMA awards, broke Michael Jackson’s record for the most U.K. Top Ten singles from one album, and was named Forbes’ highest-earning DJ in 2013.
Born on January 17, 1984 in the southern Scotland city of Dumfries, Harris was first attracted to electronic music in his teens and was recording bedroom demos by 1999. Two of these songs, “Da Bongos” and “Brighter Days,” were released as a 12″ club single and CD-EP by the Prima Facie label in early 2002 under the artist name Stouffer. With that single to his credit, the still teenaged Harris moved from Scotland to London, but as a very small fish in one of the world’s largest and most competitive ponds, Harris floundered; only one of his songs was released during his time in London, “Let Me Know” with vocalist Ayah on the Unabombers’ 2004 live-mix CD Electric Soul, Vol. 2.
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