From Bridgetown to Billionaire: The Meteoric Rise of Rhianna

Written by: Daisy Smith

When Ronald and Monica Fenty welcomed a baby into the world on February 20, 1988, they had no idea that the little girl they decided to call Robyn Rihanna Fenty would go on to become a global icon. Even in their wildest dreams, they would not have believed that this little bundle of joy would become a self-made billionaire before she was 35, but that is precisely what happened to the superstar everyone knows as Rhianna.

Rhianna was born in Saint Michael, Barbados, and grew up in a modest home in Bridgetown. Her parents divorced when she was 14, a few years after her love of reggae music began. A year later, American record producer Evan Rogers was vacationing in Barbados with his wife. Rhianna and two of her classmates had formed a music trio that had no original material – the group did not even have a name – yet they were invited to an audition in Rogers’ room. Rogers was so impressed with Rhianna’s stage presence and natural singing ability that he invited her to his home in the United States to produce some demo tapes that he would then send to record labels.

The demo tapes made their way to Def Jam Recordings, where legendary rapper Jay-Z, who was president and CEO of the label at the time. Rhianna sang a “Pon de Replay” demo, which astounded Jay-Z and his team, ultimately resulting in Def Jam Recordings signing Rhianna to a six-album deal. Although the music industry was blissfully unaware of Rhianna and what lay ahead at this point, it would not take long for the rest of the world to sit up and take notice when her first single hit the charts in May 2005.

Music of the Sun: Rhianna’s First Studio Album


“Pon de Replay,” part of Rhianna’s debut album “Music of the Sun,” was released in May 2005 and became an instant hit around the world. The song charted in the top five in 15 countries, including number two on the UK Single Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100. Less than a year later, Rhianna released her second studio album, “A Girl Like Me,” which became another commercial success.

Rhianna launched five more studio albums over the next six years in addition to headlining five tours, but fans had to wait four years between 2012 and 2016 for Rhianna to wow them with her eighth album, “Anti,” and accompanying Anti World Tour.

Appearing at the Super Bowl

Many massive musical stars have performed during the NFL’s Super Bowl halftime show over the years. Rhianna revealed she had turned down the chance to be the 2019 Super Bowl star in a show of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, who faced sanctions from the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem. However, Rhianna performed a U-turn in 2022 and became the star of the show at Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona.

Rhianna fans were tingling with excitement at the thought of seeing the Caribbean queen perform live for the first time since the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018. Rhianna teased that she may take to the stage with a surprise guest, which turned out to be the revelation that she was pregnant with her second child.

The halftime show has been ranked as one of the best of all time, not least because Rhianna belted out 12 of her worldwide hits, including “Rude Boy,” “Work,” “Umbrella,” and “Diamonds” all while sporting a bright red outfit that proudly displayed her baby bump. The epic performance left fans wanting more, but Rhianna has remained tight-lipped regarding whether or not a ninth album is in the pipeline.

The Barbadian Businesswoman

Rhianna is a highly intelligent woman who surrounds herself with like-minded people. Like many prominent celebrities, Rhianna decided to build on her global success by putting her name to a range of fragrances.

“Reb’l Fleur” was released in January 2011 and grossed $80 million within its first year. Three more perfumes arrived over the next three years, “Rebelle,” “Nude,” and “Rogue;” each was hugely successful and helped Rhianna’s net worth soar to an all-time high.

In late 2015, Rhianna launched Fr8me, a beauty and stylist agency based in Los Angeles that helps artists book commercials, editorial shoots, red-carpet appearances, and more. Her love of fashion and beauty led Rhianna to create Fenty Beauty.

Fenty Beauty and Fashion Brands

Fenty Beauty launched in 2017 in partnership with the iconic high-end fashion company LVMH. Fenty Beauty’s makeup products were praised for their diverse range for all skin colors, with Time magazine naming the brand as one of “The 25 best Inventions of 2017.”

Rhianna continued building the Fenty brand, launching the Savage X Fenty lingerie brand in 2018 and then the Fenty fashion brand in 2019. Although the COVID-19 pandemic hindered the Fenty fashion brand’s growth, it has since exploded in popularity, so much so that by 2022, Rhianna became a self-made billionaire. Fast-forward to today, and the Caribbean superstar has a personal fortune of approximately $1.4 billion.

A Star Everyone Can Be Proud Of

Rhianna’s journey from the small island of Barbados to becoming a global superstar is usually only something you read about in fairytales. Her unrivaled success is down to hard work, determination, and resilience, in addition to continually evolving her sound to stay relevant in the ever-changing music industry. We should applaud Rhianna for her business acumen, which has allowed her to become a self-made billionaire that everybody loves.

There is more to Rhianna than music and unfathomable riches because she is using her fame, stature, and vast resources for the greater good. Her Clara Lionel Foundation supports education, health, and emergency services worldwide, particularly in vulnerable communities.

Rhianna’s impact on the music and fashion industries is there for all to see, and she has already cemented her ever-lasting legacy despite only being 35. Bridgetown’s queen is not only an inspirational figure for young Babardian women but for everyone worldwide. Not many people can lay claim to that.

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