Born Robin Rihanna Fentry in Saint Michael, Barbados, and usually known by her middle name only which she uses as a stage name, Rihanna is that rarity, an R&B diva from the Caribbean. She typically blends Caribbean musical sounds into her R&B, giving it a reggae twist. In fact, initially she was marketed as a reggae singer, but moved quickly into a fusion sound that blends several styles. Her flamboyant and frequently-changed appearance, enriched by multiple tattoos, is a subject in itself, and her charitable activities benefiting her home island and terminally-ill children a grace note to her life. In this Rihanna biography Rihanna presents a densely-illustrated account of her life and work from Simon Henwood, her creative director. The photographs alone are reason enough for the book, but it also describe in insider’s detail what has become an intriguing life and person as well as the important musical career of someone who has said her ambition is to be the black Madonna.
A blend of Caribbean music with R&B and a spicy career
It’s interesting the way that someone from a small-town, out-of-the-way and literally insular origin handles extraordinary fame and success. Rihanna might have been born to it, and yet she has not forgotten where she came from, and has been heavily involved in marketing Barbados to the world, including the flag and the island’s symbol of a broken trident in many of her videos. She is now part of the island’s official tourism image and her photos are film footage are included in tourism ads. One of her many tattoos reads with what she calls her life’s motto: “Never a failure, always a lesson,” in backwards letters so she can read it in the mirror. Even the notorious incident of domestic violence to which her former lover Chris Brown pleaded guilty adds only another sharp note to the composition of her richly Caribbean-spiced life. Although there’s no commentary from Rihanna herself, which would have added to the book’s content and relevance, this Rihanna biography is still a good account from someone on the inside.