Ariana Grande

Birth name: Ariana Grande-Butera
Birthplace: Boca Raton, Florida
June 26, 1993 – Present
Years Active: 2008 – Present

Ariana Grande has had a profound influence on popular music since releasing her first album, Yours Truly, in 2013. Her strong vocal chops and work with producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds had critics initially defining her as following in the footsteps of singers like Mariah Carey, and Grande has mentioned Carey, Judy Garland, and Whitney Houston as early influences. But she’s diversified her creative output since releasing her debut, expanding her sonic identity beyond a contemporary Pop sound to include elements of R&B, Hip Hop, and Dance music.

Born in Boca Raton, Florida to a communications executive and a graphic designer, Grande’s earliest stage experience was in local theatre. In 2008, she was cast in the Broadway musical 13, garnering critical acclaim and honors for her performance. Soon thereafter, she landed the role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon television show Victorious and began pursuing a music career. While her first releases were positioned to appeal directly to a young teen audience that was familiar with her via Nickelodeon, Grande’s collaboration with Mac Miller on the single “The Way” in 2013 signaled a more mature musical direction.

While 2013’s Yours Truly was certainly a Pop-styled album, the influence of R&B was evident on that debut and was featured even more prominently on her sophomore effort, 2014’s My Everything. Grande’s second release boasted numerous collaborations, an ever-popular industry practice that served Grande well creatively and commercially. In contrast to her first album’s handful of collabs, more than half the tracks on My Everything featured Grande paired with a variety of artists, including the lead hit single “Problem,” which showcased Grande teaming up with Australian rapper, Iggy Azalea. Others guesting on the album included Zedd, Jessie J, BIG SEAN, Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, and A$AP Ferg.

2016’s Dangerous Woman maintained Grande’s stylistic balance of Pop and R&B and featured less collaborations. The album charted lower than her previous releases but featured notable and varied collaborations with Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Macy Gray, and Future, introducing the Hip Hip style of Trap and dance floor House to her sonic stable. 2017 found Grande dueting with John Legend on the title song for the soundtrack to Disney’s live-action rendition of Beauty and the Beast.

The influence of Trap-style Hip Hop and Dance continued on 2018’s Sweetener, which Grande quickly followed with 2019’s Thank U, Next. Both albums topped the charts and highlighted Grande’s continued effort to broaden her sound via collaborations and a diverse roster of producers. Later in 2019, Grande teamed with Lana Del Rey and Miley Cyrus for the single “Don’t Call Me Angel” from the Charlie’s Angels movie.

Related Lessons

The Influence of Rhythm and Blues

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: General Music, Social Studies/History

What did R&B bring to early Rock and Roll, and how was early Rock and Roll different?

The Roots of Hip Hop

Grades: High
Subjects: ELA, Social Studies/History

What are the roots of Hip Hop?

100 Years of Dance

Grades: Elementary, Middle
Subjects: General Music

Why might people dance, and how have dance trends changed in America since the 1920s?

Making Music Videos with a Homemade Projector

Grades: Elementary, Middle
Subjects: CTE, Science, STEAM

How can one reproduce the effects seen in the music video for Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey’s song “The Middle” using a homemade projector?

“Glory” and the Continuing Civil Rights Movement

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: Civics, Social Studies/History

How does Common and John Legend's “Glory” signal Civil Rights movements of the past and the present?

New Perspectives on The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: ELA

Does Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” help humanize Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby?

Related People

Trace It Back:
Lana Del Rey

Grades: AP/Honors/101, High, Middle