From a fresh-faced kid, Ariana has transformed herself into a television star and diva pop princess. She may be young, but she's doing it like the best and most experienced of them in the industry. At just 23-years old, Ariana Grande is considered tomorrow’s Mariah Carey. Besides powerful vocal cords, the American brunette is an actress, dancer and film star. Her popularity has mainly been attributed to hit songs such as 'Dangerous Woman', 'Focus', and 'Problem' as well as her role as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon TV series 'Victorious'.
Born as Ariana Grande-Butera on June 26 1993 in Boca Raton Florida, her name was an inspiration from a character named Princess Oriana in 1959 film Felix the Cat. Ariana’s parents, who are both of Italian descent, initially lived in New York and only moved to Florida when her mother was expecting the beautiful diva. Her mother Joan Grande was a Chief Executive Officer working with Hose-McCann Communications – a telephone and alarm systems company – while Edward Butera, her father, earned his living as a graphic designer. Joan in particular has been a great inspiration to Grande’s success in the music industry. Her father also often tweets of how proud he is of his daughter’s success. Unfortunately, the couple separated when Ariana was only eight-years old.
Ariana has a half brother Frankie Grande, of whom they share the same mother but were born of different fathers. Her brother is an actor, dancer, and producer and has played a great role in inspiring his sister in the showbiz industry. In fact before Ariana gained fame in music, he would take her along during his shows as one of his dancers.
While growing up Grande attended two schools; Pine Crest School and North Broward Preparatory School. According to her schooling was a ‘pack of dramatic escapades’. Firstly, when in preschool, she had an obsession for kissing boys, a trend that sent her on detention almost daily. Funny enough, at only 3-years old Ariana had her first crush who was none other than Justin Timberlake. Secondly, she tried her best to be in the school choir but the choir leadership never accepted her. While at school, her favorite subject was science but Grande later left high school before completing her studies. However, the school management had her enrolled still and study materials as well as personal tutors could be sent to her music school.
Ariana Grande started her singing and acting career at a young age. Before hitting 10-years old, she had already performed with acclaimed child theater Ford Lauderdale in her first role as Annie. As well as being part of the musicals, she also participated in The Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast. At the age of eight, she stole a show after performing at a karaoke lounge on a cruise ship with her family. A famous Latin singer, Gloria Estefan, was impressed by her beautiful voice and urged Ariana to follow her dreams. This inspired the little girl to then pursue acting and music.
Her music career seriousness came alive once she hit the age of 13. Her dream was to record an R&B album, which was soon a dream that came to be. Although her managers were hesitant to allow the then 14-year-old Grande record an R&B album, they gave in any way.
Ariana’s career life started on television. She started out at 15-years old at a Broadway production where she played the role of Cheerleader Charlotte. She played it perfectly, and it was a move that saw her win a National Youth Theatre Association Award. Later, this seemed like a foundation for her television work as she managed to get other minor roles on TV such as ‘The Battery’s Down’. However, her biggest breakthrough was on Nickelodeon.
In 2009, she auditioned for the Nickelodeon TV series Victorious in New York and emerged successful. Victorious was a teen sitcom set in a performing arts high school and Grande played the role of Cat Valentine. This role led to her then-signature red hair since producer Dan Schneider was of the opinion that the cast should look different for the ease of identification. Therefore, Ariana was to dye her hair red every two weeks. The decision came after seeing that the red hair had many similarities to the personality of a cat, which was perfect for her character.
Victorious contributed hugely to Grande’s fame across America. Even after the show went off the air, she landed a role on the next Nickelodeon’s spin-off show, Sam & Cat. Grande retained her character as Cat Valentine alongside iCarly character, Jennette McCurdy, who played as Sam Puckett. Unfortunately, the show didn’t last long and rumor had it that behind scenes issues were to blame for the show’s cancellation. In fact, only 35 episodes were aired and four of them were completely left out leaving fans dismayed by the lack of a proper finale. Another rumor was that Grande was not enjoying her role on the show and this could have contributed to the cancellation.
Ariana has appeared on several other TV shows as an actor and voice-over artist such as Winx Club, Swindle and Family Guy. She has also played as a host on guest shows like Saturday Night Live, RuPauls’s Drag Race and Knock Knock Live.
Although she started out as a television star, music appeared first on her list of favorites. She once said ‘acting is fun, but music has always been first and foremost to me.’ Even when on Victorious, she continued to pursue her musical career and made the first appearance on the Victorious soundtrack. She also recorded herself singing cover songs by famous artists like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Adele and then uploaded them to Youtube. This is when Monte Lipman, CEO of Republic Records came across the videos and being impressed by her voice, signed her a recording contract. It is after this contract that she managed to release her first single in 2011 on Valentine’s Day, ‘Put Your Hearts Up’. The pop song was directed at her young audience on the Victorious series. The song was a hit and saw Victorious voted the favorite TV show in 2012 Kid’s Choice Awards.
In 2013, she released another hit single titled ‘The Way.’ The song was from her debut album ‘Yours Truly’ and contained other songs like ‘Baby I’ and ‘Right There’. The album was a success as it was debuted the first position on the US Billboard 200 albums chart. The album sold more than 138000 copies in the first week after release. A significant achievement was also seen across other countries like Australia, UK, Ireland and the Netherlands where it debuted in the top 10. In a nutshell, ‘Yours Truly’ was no doubt the first Grande’s platinum album.
She released her second album ‘My Everything’ in August 2014. According to critics, the songs in this album reflected a more grown up and confident Grande. The singles on this album included ‘Problem’, ‘Break Free’, ‘Bang Bang’, ‘Love Me Harder’ and ‘One Last Time’. She managed to sell 169,000 copies in the first week. This album was the first of her works where she had collaborated with international stars; ‘Problem’ featured Iggy Azalea an Australian Rapper, ‘Break Free’ featured Zedd a German musician, and ‘Love Me Harder’ featured Canadian artist The Weeknd.
To gain more international popularity, Grande embarked on a tour of North America and Europe titled ‘The Honeymoon Tour’, and it also had some stops in Asia and South America. It was a huge success and earned her close to $14 million for the first 25 performances. The ultimate success was attributed to Grande’s vocals and the ability to convey the message and emotion in her songs.
2015 was a good year for the young pop star as she released her third pop and R&B album titled ‘Moonlight’. The first lead single ‘Focus’ from the album was a big success with over 500 million views on YouTube by March 2016. However, she later re-titled the album to ‘Dangerous Woman’ and removed ‘Focus’ from the track list. ‘Dangerous Woman’ has two singles ‘Into You’ and a song with the same title as the album ‘Dangerous Woman’. Two promotional singles have also been released in the favor of the album – ‘Be Alright’ and ‘Let Me Love You’ a single that features Lil Wayne.
Grande’s popularity has received a mix of reactions from her fans. While some think she is a sweet soul other people feel that her cold attitude is slowly ruining her career.
Grande is a great musician especially because her songs have always been hits across the world. The popularity has seen her being listed by Huffington Post as one of the most influential actresses online. When not in the studio, she works with a charitable organization in the south of Florida region called ‘Kids Who Care’.
However, several fans feel that she is an arrogant artist and on the road to failure. While this may seem like mere rumors, Ariana has not been on the best behavior for the last few years.
In 2014, her fans – otherwise known as Arianators – felt that Grande was greedy and often over-priced her concerts. She demanded a clean $500 for a simple meet and greet experience with her fans. Most of these fans expressed their disgust and disappointment across different social media platforms. They were of the opinion that Grande’s exaggerated pricing was an expression that Grande never wanted to meet her fans.
Moreover, her behavior when with fans has also put her in a bad light. Firstly, she has over numerous times denied photographers from taking her pictures, and if they have to she instructs for it to be taken on the left side of her face, probably because of the adorable dimple on the left cheek. Journalists also often have a difficult time interviewing her as she is very selective on the questions she answers.
In late 2015, she was caught on tape spitting and licking doughnuts on display inside a shop in California. As if disgusted by the appearance of those doughnuts, she declared how she hates Americans and America at large. She went ahead to say, ‘I can’t believe Americans would eat this stuff.’ Although she later apologized for uttering such remarks, some of her fans would hear none of it. As a result of this incident, when Q Scores conducted a survey to determine the public opinion on celebrities, Ariana’s public image score had gone down.
Regarding the above, there is the need for Ariana to work on retaining her positive image throughout her career life. In most cases, young artists become excited about their early life achievements and that is often the beginning of their downfall. Grande must be cautious of taking excessive wrong moves especially now that she’s still building her name. Otherwise, her reputation may be over even before it begins.
At the mention of Grande, what comes to mind is a 5’ 1’’ tall beauty queen with her signature half ponytailed brown hair. However, her hair was initially dyed red when playing the role of Cat Valentine. After leaving the show, she resulted to wearing extensions in an attempt to grow natural curly hair again.
Initially, as Grande was starting out in the industry, her fashion was simple mainly because of her then very young age. Although the dressing was appropriate for her, Jim Farber of New York Daily felt that the simplicity could be the reason she was not receiving much attention and fans in the industry.
However, she changed her wardrobe code in 2014 and her dressing included crop tops, short skirts and knee high boots. The dress code change played a huge part in attracting a massive fan base and online following. Currently, she has over 23 million Facebook likes, millions of YouTube Video views as well as 21 million followers on Twitter and that includes The World Bank. On special occasions, she prefers rocking floor length red gowns, chokers, oversized jackets, flapper dresses and any style taking the theater theme.
Ariana’s private life is a mystery. She rarely talks about it, but there is a bunch of her life that the world already knows about.
In 2008, rumor had it that she started dating Graham Philips but they broke up later in December 2011. She then joined another relationship with her backup dancer Jordan Viscomi but that ended a few months later as well. In fact, the relationship started out in late 2011 and ended in mid-2012.
In October 2012, she met Jai Brooks on Twitter and embarked on a long distance relationship. They finally met in December of the same year in New York, but their relationship was only short lived. In August 2013, Jai accused Ariana of cheating on him and they broke up. However, it was rumored that they got together in May 2014 but broke again in July of the same year.
The beauty queen could hardly stay off dating and therefore found a new catch the following month. He was Nathan Sykes of The Wanted, a British boyband. Grande seemed to carry on her bad luck with relationships since she broke up with the handsome guy in January 2014. However, during an interview Grande told his fans that she and Nathan remained good friends.
In August 2014, another rumor went around that she was dating Big Sean after them being seen together holding hands a couple of times. Just like other unsuccessful past relationships, the two parted ways in April 2015.
Mid 2015 was a happy season for the pop diva. She started going out with her backup dancer Ricky Alvarez. However, the relationship was kept secret and away from the public eye. Unfortunately, a video was later leaked of Grande making out with Alvarez. The two reportedly split up in the summer of 2016.
Written by: Peris Ngaruiya