Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados, Rihanna always exhibited a certain star quality, winning beauty and talent contests as a schoolchild. But because she lived on the fairly remote island of Barbados in the West Indies, she never foresaw the sort of stardom that would later befall her.

That stardom came courtesy of a fateful meeting with a man named Evan Rogers. The New Yorker was vacationing in Barbados with his wife, a native of the island, when someone turned him on to Rihanna. Since Rogers had spent years producing pop artists including superstars like *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Laura Pausini, and Rod Stewart he offered her the opportunity to record some music after he recognized her talent. Along with Rogers' production partner, Carl Sturken (the other half of Syndicated Rhythm Productions), Rihanna recorded several demos that sparked the interest of the Carter Administration that is, newly appointed Def Jam president Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter. This led to an audition and, in turn, an on-the-spot offer to sign with Def Jam, which Rihanna indeed inked on the spot.

Come summer 2005, Def Jam rolled out "Pon De Replay", the lead single of Music of the Sun. Produced almost entirely by Rogers and Sturken, the song also synthesized Caribbean rhythms with urban-pop songwriting. "Pon De Replay" caught fire almost immediately, climbing all the way to number two on The Billboard Hot 100 and contesting the half-summer reign of Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" atop the chart this was before Music of the Sun even had been released. The album spawned one other hit, "If It's Lovin' That You Want", which broke the Top 40. Rihanna's follow-up album, A Girl Like Me, was a greater success, spawning three big singles: a chart-topper ("S.O.S.") and two Top Tens ("Unfaithful" & "Break It Off").

Rihanna's third album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), continued her success and, more notably, signaled a change of direction. Whereas her past two albums had been imbalanced often weighed down by faceless balladry and canned Caribbean-isms Good Girl Gone Bad was a first-rate dance-pop album. Moreover, it was surprisingly solid, stacked with several chart-topping singles and boasting collaborations with Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Timbaland, and StarGate. The lead single, "Umbrella", shot to number one and, for the third year in a row, was a potential "song of the summer." By this point it was clear that Rihanna had become one of the biggest singles artists of the mid-2000s.

Sound Files (MP3)
Umbrella (f/Jay-Z) - from the album Good Girl Gone Bad
Don't Stop The Music - from the album Good Girl Gone Bad
Shut Up And Drive - from the album Good Girl Gone Bad
Hate That I Love You (f/Ne-Yo) - from the album Good Girl Gone Bad
Rehab (f/Justin Timberlake & Timbaland) - from the album Good Girl Gone Bad
Pon De Replay - from the album Music To The Sun

DISCOGRAPHY

Music Of The Sun
Released: 2005
Label: Def Jam

A Girl Like Me
Released: 2006
Label: Def Jam

Good Girl Gone Bad
Released: 2007
Label: Def Jam

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