During Christmas 2003, a series of chance events unfolded that would change Rihanna's life forever. A New York City record producer, Evan Rogers, was vacationing with his wife near Rihanna's home. A mutual friend introduced them, and after Rihanna belted out a few tunes for Rogers, he realized her potential and invited her to New York to record some demo songs. Rihanna jumped at the opportunity to sing professionally, and she took Rogers up on his offer the following spring.
It wasn't long before Rihanna was auditioning for Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, head of Def Jam Recordings. Despite her nervousness, Rihanna wowed the Def Jam record execs and signed a deal before she walked out the door. Work immediately began on her singles, starting with "Pon de Replay," one of the punchy dance numbers that had first impressed Jay-Z.