With her feline good looks, girl-next-door appeal and soulful songs, teen sensation Rihanna has arrived on the global music scene like a raging musical storm. Her debut single, “Pon De Replay,” was the #1 most added single upon its release and the most downloaded tune in the U.S. for several weeks in a row.
But Rihanna is much more than a dance-floor diva, as her Def Jam Records debut album, Music of the Sun, attests. Tracks like “The Last Time,” “Here I Go Again” and “Now I Know” showcase an agile voice that’s grounded in pop, soul, gospel and Caribbean traditions.
Like Diana Ross and Beyoncé before her, the Rihanna saga is a Cinderella story with an urban twist. A native of the Barbados parish of St. Michael, Rihanna lived a somewhat simple life where she attended high school and performed for fun with friends. One day, the singer was introduced by a mutual friend to New York City music producer Evan Rogers (Rogers and his songwriter collaborator, Carl Sturken, have produced hits for Christina Aguilera, Ruben Studdard and Kelly Clarkson). After an impromptu “audition,” Rogers invited Rihanna to the Big Apple to record some tracks.
Rihanna, Rogers and Sturken holed up in a New York studio and composed close to a dozen songs. “(It’s) mostly Caribbean beats mixed with r&b,” Rihanna says of her music. “I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into being just a dance artist because I can sing too. I have ballads on the album as well as upbeat tracks.”
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, President and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, signed Rihanna to a lucrative contract within minutes of hearing and seeing her. Her debut album was one of the most anticipated pop recordings of 2005. Judging from its impressive mix of Caribbean dance jams, funk rumpshakers and soul ballads, Music of the Sun is the auspicious beginning of a high-flying career.