Monica, an accountant, and Ronald, a warehouse supervisor, welcome daughter Robyn Rihanna Fenton. Her childhood on the Caribbean island of Barbados is deeply affected by her father's addiction to crack cocaine and parent's rocky marriage, which ends when she's 14. The shy kid finds an outlet through singing.
After forming a girl group with two classmates, Rihanna, 15, auditions for veteran producer Evan Rogers, who tells Entertainment Weekly, "The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn't exist." She eventually moves to Connecticut to live with Rogers and his wife, while cutting a four-song demo. "When I left Barbados, I didn't look back," Rihanna adds. "I wanted to do what I had to do, even it meant moving to America."
Rihanna's demo makes its way to Def Jam and the budding star is invited to audition for rapper turned Def Jam president Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter. "I was in the lobby just shaking," Rihanna, who sings Whitney Houston's "For the Love of You," tells Rolling Stone. "I signed her in one day," Jay-Z adds. "It took me two minutes to see she was a star."