Ariana Grande-Butera, an Italian-American pop vocalist, was born June 26th in 1993 in Boca Raton, Florida. The only daughter of Joan Grande, the CEO of a communications equipment company, and Edward Butera, a graphic designer, Grande grew up in a “stereotypical poker-playing, loud, friendly, food-shoving, loving family.”
By the time Grande was 6-years-old, she had already begun on the road to becoming a famous pop star and diva.
Her debut role was as the character of Annie in the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theater’s production of Annie. By age 8, Latin pop star Gloria Estefan found her performing Celine Dion’s hit single “My Heart Will Go On” aboard a cruise ship in their karaoke lounge.
After discovering her burgeoning talent, Estefan told Grande’s mother that singing is what little Ariana “needs to be doing.”
Eight years later in Los Angeles, Grande was dying her hair red once a week to play the role of Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s Victorious. Interestingly enough, it was this role that we can thank for her signature ponytail. She later got her own spin-off show as the same character alongside Jennette McCurdy in Sam & Cat.
After dying her hair cherry-soda red from the ages of 16 to 20, the resulting damage to her hair meant that her hair follicles became “so broken that it looked[ed] absolutely ratchet and absurd when [she] let it down.”
She decided to begin wearing it in a high ponytail with extensions and later joked that her hairstyle has “more fake hair than every drag queen on earth combined.”
With the help of Scooter Braun, Ariana Grande’s manager (also well known in the pop world for managing Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Tori Kelly), Grande began crafting a career that every pop star dreams of – complete with a Grammy Award. So, who exactly is Ariana Grande?
An Italian Vegan
Growing up in a family that identified as Italian-American family meant that she was constantly eating tasty and traditional foods like zeppole and spiedini. But by the time she entered her teenage years, she decided to change her diet completely, deciding to eat only really healthy foods such as salmon, vegetables, and fruits.
She would eventually become a vegan by 2013 and admitted to her fans on social media that the choice made her heart feel very happy. While most would describe her dietary decision as vegan, Grande’s trainer, Harley Pasternak, instead describes her diet as “macrobiotic Japanese.”
Grande has also told many publications that her decision to go vegan was also in part about how she felt about animals. Grade admitted to Vulture that she “love[s] animals more than I love most people, not kidding.”
Her love of animals is clearly evident by her love of pets – particularly her pet pig, Piggy Smalls, and seven dogs, one of which starred in a Coach campaign, named Toulouse. The one pet she can’t have? Cats! In 2010, Grande shared that even though she loves animals, she does have a cat allergy.
An Impressive Vocal Range
Unlike so many of the most dazzling soprano vocalists to ever gain notoriety as pop singers, Ariana Grande does not have any formal vocal training. Ariana admits that “Music just kind of happened, I never really trained for anything.”
While she played French horn and learned music theory by way of reading sheet music, she learned how to sing by ear. The key to her vocal development was using music to create the impression of other artists.
She admits that she would listen to and later emulate old Whitney Houston songs from her famous film The Bodyguard, as well as a number of oldies from Judy Garland. In a 2012 interview with Neon Limelight, Grande remembered that Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was the first song she sang – a song that she attributes to her most favorite film as a youngster.
She has also been known to showcase her impressions publicly – as in the case of her Jennifer Lawrence impression on Saturday Night Live (SNL) and her Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera impersonations on the very popular show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She even appeared on Broadway in Hairspray.
Grande is perhaps most well-known for her impressive four-octave vocal range, including the very rare whistle register. Grande has frequently been compared to another famous pop star – Mariah Carey. The two share an extensive range and especially impressive top register and have each been described as having a voice that is “gymnastic,” “athletically absurd,” and “limitless.” Her list of studio albums includes My Everything, Yours Truly, Dangerous Woman, Thank U, Next, and Sweetener that have earned her Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and a Grammy Award. These albums feature Billboard Hot 100 hits like The Way, No Tears Left to Cry, Break Up With Your Girlfriend, God Is a Woman, and One Last Time. She has collaborated with Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga in “Rain on Me,” and even a duet with Justin Bieber called “Stuck With U.”
Ari also has a half-brother, Frankie Grande, who is also a successful vocalist in his own right. Frankie, a musical theater performer who has appeared as Boots the Monkey in a national tour of Dora the Explorer Live!, is well known to a number of Grande fans as a result of coming out as gay.
Grande, who grew up as a Roman Catholic, admits that her brother’s personal admission was particularly important in her own personal journey – especially when she began questioning the tenets of her faith.
Grande told Vogue Magazine:
“When my brother was told that God didn’t love him I was like, ‘Okay, that’s not cool.’”
As she began exploring what her brother’s sexual identity meant to many in her Roman Catholic faith, her journey eventually led her to choose Kabbalah – a faith that has been described as ancient wisdom that focuses on how to receive fulfillment in one’s life.
Grande claimed that she and her brother decided to visit a Kabbalah center that was being built in Florida and found that they both had a connection with it. She admits that since she has gravitated to Kabbalah, her life has unfolded in really beautiful ways.
While in the public eye, Ariana Grande’s relationships have been with several high-profile entertainers. Among the lucky men are boy band member Nathan Sykes (of The Wanted), actor Graham Phillips, rapper Big Sean, and comedian Pete Davidson. Her current boyfriend is Dalton Gomez.
Perhaps her most intimate and heart-breaking romance was with rapper Mac Miller. She began dating Miller when they were recording their song “The Way” and filming the music video for her debut album in 2013.
In a profile with Vogue Magazine, Grande admitted she struggled emotionally when headlining Coachella in 2019. Miller, who struggled with drug use throughout his life and passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 2018 at the age of 26, was all she could think of as she participated in the music festival.
Ariana Grande’s grief over Mac Miller’s death was “all-consuming” even though the two did not have a perfect relationship. She admitted this to Vogue Magazine:
“I was always a person who never went to festivals and never went out and had fun like that…But the first time I went was to see Malcolm perform, and it was such an incredible experience. I went the second year as well, and I associate…heavily…it was just kind of a mindfuck, processing how much has happened in such a brief period.”
Before Miller’s passing, Grande also went through another incredibly rough time as her Dangerous Woman Tour at Manchester Arena in the UK was targeted with a bombing. Afterward, she returned to the city to host a benefit concert titled “One Love Manchester” alongside stars like Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.
A Halloween Addict
Unlike your most favorite celebrity, Grande celebrates Halloween twelve months out of the year. Grande grew up in a family that loved the macabre and embraced their weirdness. She claims that her family – especially her mom – were really eccentric.
In her Vogue cover story, Grande said that her mom was goth, and her entire wardrobe was modeled after Cersei Lannister. Grande remembers her mom designing a Jaws themed birthday party for her third birthday, and later on in the year around Halloween, her mom buying animal organs and leaving them floating in dishes.
Grande can even remember having a “ghost/demon experience” while visiting a cemetery known as “one of the seven gates to hell” in Kansas City. She claims that she felt an overwhelming feeling of negativity and sickness in the car she was driving in. She even smelled sulfur and saw a fly in the car randomly – both signs, that she says, are symbolic of a demon.
Ariana Grande is more than a popular singer, she is a young woman whose interests span across animals, spirituality, and even Halloween.