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Gametime
Published: Jun. 15, 2020

Who is Ariana Grande? Everything You Need to Know


 

Most folks who follow music and entertainment will know the name Ariana Grande. They’ll be able to recognize her, name a few of her songs, and perhaps know where to find Ariana Grande concert tickets. But most people still don’t know her whole story. Where did she come from? How did she become such a big star? Let’s take a deeper look at the life and career of Ariana Grande.

Who is Ariana Grande: Growing Up

The singer we know as Ariana Grande was born Ariana Grande-Butera on June 26, 1993, in Boca Raton, Florida. Her CEO mother and graphic designer father moved to Florida from New York during her mother’s pregnancy. Given her natural talent for performing, Grande may have been better off growing up in New York. Of course, growing up in South Florida didn’t stop her from becoming a pop sensation. 

Growing up, Grande’s first foray into performing was playing the title role in the musical Annie with the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theater. That was soon followed by roles in Beauty and the Beast and The Wizard of Oz, leaving little doubt that Grande was born to be on stage. At age 13, she decided to pursue both acting and music more seriously. Grande soon landed a role in the Broadway musical 13 and began to do her schoolwork remotely. From there, it was just a matter of time before she became world-famous.

Who is Ariana Grande: Early Fame

After making her Broadway debut, Grande’s next big break came in 2009 when she was cast for the role of the quirky but likable Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon show Victorious. After making its TV debut in March 2010, the show was an instant hit, helping to launch the career of Grande and some of her co-stars, most notably Victoria Justice and Elizabeth Gillies. 

Victorious took place at a performing arts high school, which seemed like a perfect fit for Riri both personally and professionally. It gave her the opportunity to sing, contributing to several songs on the show’s soundtrack. Ari’s performance in victorious also grabbed the attention of music executives, clearing the way for her first single “Put Your Hearts Up”, which was released in 2011 when Ariana was 18. However, Grande was not a huge fan of the song and later disowned it because she didn’t want to be associated with its bubblegum pop sound.

After three seasons, Victorious was canceled, but by then, Riri was already starting to become a household name. The popularity of both Ari and her character led Nickelodeon to produce a spinoff of Victorious and iCarly starring Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy called Sam & Cat. Initially, the network ordered 20 episodes but quickly doubled that to 40 episodes. But despite success in television, Ariana still had her sights set on a music career.

Who is Ariana Grande: Pop Success

At the age of 14, Grande made it clear that she had aspirations to record an R&B album. It was undoubtedly a lofty goal for a teenager, but one that she achieved in 2013 when her first album Yours Truly was released. Even while filming Sam & Cat, Riri worked to complete the album, which blended 90s-style R&B with Ari’s unique style. She also wrote half of the 12 songs on the album, an impressive accomplishment for such a young artist, especially one who was simultaneously filming a TV show.

When Yours Truly was released in September 2013, it became an instant success, debuting at no. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart. Ariana Grande became just the 15th female solo artist to have an album at the top of the charts. The album’s singles: “The Way,” “Baby I,” and “Right There” were all hits and helped Yours Truly to eventually reach Platinum status.

Less than a year after Yours Truly was released, Grande followed up with her sophomore album My Everything. Highlighted by the single “Problem” featuring Izzy Azalea, My Everything also opened at the top of the charts. Subsequent singles like “Break Free,” “Bang Bang,” “Love Me Harder,” and “One Last Time” helped earn Ariana her first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. The song “Bang Bang,” which included Nicki Minaj and Jessie J, also received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. 

Who is Ariana Grande: Other Achievements

With her third studio album, Grande informally announced her transition from teen sensation to adult performer with the appropriately titled Dangerous Woman. Released in 2015, the album’s title track was the first single and another hit that opened in the top-10 on the singles charts. With that, Riri became the first recording artist to have the first single from her first three albums to debut in the top-10. Dangerous Woman was praised by critics for topping recent performances by some of Ari’s contemporaries. Meanwhile, subsequent singles “Into You,” “Side to Side,” and “Everyday” helped earn Ariana Grande another Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.

It was more of the same in 2018 when Ariana released her fourth album Sweetener. The single “God is a Woman” made massive waves in the music industry, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance. That song also helped to establish Sweetener as one of the best albums of the year while finally giving Grande her first Grammy win for Best Pop Vocal Album with her third nomination in that category being the charm.

Once again, Grande proved herself capable of churning out the hits in a hurry. Barely six months after releasing Sweetener, Riri’s fifth album Thank U, Next was released. The album received Grammy nominations for both Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year while the single “7 Rings” earned Best Pop Solo Performance and Record of the Year nominations. Just two months after Thank U, Next was released, Ari made history once again by becoming just the fourth woman and the youngest artist to serve as the headliner at Coachella. She would eventually wrap up another banner year in 2019 by combining forces with Lana Del Rey and Miley Cyrus on the song “Don’t Call Me Angel” for the soundtrack of the Charlie’s Angels reboot.

Who is Ariana Grande: Big Talent in a Small Package

Ariana Grande’s success as a pop star has been about more than good songwriting and a little bit of luck. She is truly one of the most talented female singers of her generation, perhaps of all-time. Riri possesses a four-octave soprano range, including the whistle register, which is the highest a human voice can reach. Not only is such vocal range rare, but it’s almost stunning to hear such a powerful voice come from someone who is a hair over five-feet tall. She’s also been praised for her uncanny ability to mimic the voices of other prominent singers, including talented vocalists like Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera.

Early in her career, Ari often mentioned Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as her biggest influences. Oddly enough, critics have compared her to both, something that Ariana calls a “blessing.” Grande has also mentioned Madonna and Celine Dion as being among her favorite singers growing up, adding that it was Gloria Estefan who served as inspiration for pursuing a music career. She has also expressed an affinity for Judy Garland, Imogen Heap, and Brandy.

Who is Ariana Grande: Personal Life

As a pop star in the public eye, Grande has had little choice but to have her personal life play out publicly for all of the world to see. However, she’s tried to do her best to keep her personal matters private. In the past, she has denied being romantically involved with rapper Big Sean, with whom she has collaborated on songs, as well as Niall Horan of One Direction.

Of course, there is confirmation that Riri had a relationship with actor Graham Phillips, who co-starred on Broadway with Ari in the musical 13. The two dated when they were teenagers, breaking up in 2011. Ariana Grande also had a serious relationship with rapper Mac Miller. The two recorded a song together in 2012 but didn’t begin dating until 2016 around the time they recorded a song called “My Favorite Part” that was released on Miller’s album The Divine Feminine. The relationship between Grande and Miller ended in 2018, just a few months before Miller passed away from an accidental drug overdose.

More recently, Riri had a whirlwind relationship with actor and comedian Pete Davidson, which began around the time that she separated with Miller. The relationship was a constant source of tabloid fodder and became an obsession for fans with saw the pair as an odd couple. Things took an unexpected twist when Grande and Davidson announced their engagement roughly a month after they started dating. News of the engagement put even more attention and scrutiny on the relationship.

However, the couple announced that the end of their engagement in October 2018, less than six months after the relationship began. Nevertheless, the relationship will live on in Ari’s music. The 2018 album Sweetener, which was released while the two were together, includes a song called “Pete Davidson.” Grande also mentions the relationship on the title track of her album Thank U, Next with the lyric “For Pete I’m so thankful.”

Who is Arana Grande: A Little Controversy

In addition to the much-publicized personal life, Ariana has found herself as the center of controversy a few times during her career. On multiple occasions, she has been called a “diva” because of her attitudes about only being photographed on one side. She once canceled photo shoots and asked for photos from a previous shoot to be destroyed because she was unhappy with how the shoot unfolded. However, while some called her a “diva” others came to her side and praised her for attempting to remain in control of her image. 

In 2015, she found herself in a big pot of hot water after surveillance video showed her licking doughnuts on display in a doughnut shop while being critical of those who eat the fried dessert, saying: “I hate Americans. I hate America. This is disgusting.” Grande would later apologize, saying her comments were concerning her frustration at the obesity problem among Americans, adding that she is “extremely proud to be an American.” Ultimately, she was able to poke fun of herself and the infamous “donut incident” on Saturday Night Live.

Who is Ariana Grande: One Night in Manchester

Even with all of the hit songs, a well-publicized personal life, and a little bit of controversy along the way, the defining moment in Ariana Grande’s life may have had nothing to do with her but everything to do with her at the same time. It happened on Monday, May 22, 2017, when Grande was on the European leg of Dangerous Woman Tour. After her show in Manchester, England, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the Manchester Arena foyer as thousands of people were leaving the venue. The bomb killed 23 and wounded 116 others, including young children who attended Riri’s concert. 

At the time, Ari was a month shy of her 24th birthday but handled the tragedy with the grace of someone much older. Soon after the incident, Ariana tweeted: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.” From that point, it was clear that Grande was crushed by the loss of life and took the attack on her fans personally. She immediately suspended her tour out of respect to the victims and returned home to Florida to regroup and collect herself.

In a great show of maturity and unselfishness, Ariana Grande returned to Manchester less than two weeks later after organizing a benefit show that included Miley Cyrus, Robbie Williams, Liam Gallagher, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Pharrell, and other prominent musicians. Ariana closed the show with her song “One Last Time” and an emotional rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The show helped to raise $23 million for the families of those affected by the bombing.

In addition to playing the show in Manchester before resuming her tour, Grande visited with fans who had been injured in the bombing and handed out thousands of free tickets to fans in attendance at her May 22 show. In recognition of her efforts, the city of Manchester made Riri an honorary citizen. 

The tragedy in Manchester had a lasting and profound impact on Ari, who became reluctant to record new material afterward. She later admitted to still experiencing post-traumatic stress from the bombing and still finds it difficult to talk about what happened. Nearly a year after the bombing, Ariana Grande released the song “No Tears Left to Cry,” which was her first single since the incident in Manchester. The title of the song made it clear that she still carries the tragedy with her. The song also marked a change in her sound, taking her into a new chapter of her career.



 

 


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