Rihanna attracted thousands of her fans for a concert at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom Thursday, to mark the release of her new album Rated R, which critics say is her statement on ex-boyfriend Chris Brown's assault on her and her healing.
Rihanna performed nine songs: three from her last album Wait your Turn, Russian Roulette, and Hard. She also treated her fans to older hits such as Umbrella, Don't stop the music, Live your Life, Take A Bow, Disturbia and Run this Town, which is nominated for two Grammy awards for best rap song and best rap song collaboration.
My favorite part was when she sang Umbrella and the crowd got into it and they had their umbrellas up, that was cool, said Trish, a fan from Long Island, after the concert.
But not all of Rihanna's supporters were there for the music. Many were looking forward to seeing her edgy outfits.
I'm expecting her to wear something really crazy, maybe some all black stretch-fit outfit, I really want to see how she has her hair done, said Yaritza Gonzalez of New Jersey. I'm here more because I love her fashion - more than her music, she noted.
Rihanna came out on stage wearing a metallic silver bodysuit, black gloves and sunglasses, black high heel boots and her unique short copper-blond hairstyle.
I loved her outfit, she looks like Rihanna! She looks just like herself. She performed great. I sang every song that she performed - I'm a huge fan of her, said Danielle Neureiter of the Bronx, who saw her performing live for the first time.
The concert was part of a series sponsored by MySpace, the second largest social-networking site in the U.S. It was meant to mark the release of Rihanna's Rated R, an album the singer has said contains a roller coaster of emotions she felt after former boyfriend and fellow singer Chris Brown assaulted her.
[Rated R] Is dark, her past albums have been really upbeat, up tempo, have fun, party, Javier Howard of the Bronx said at the concert. When you listen to the music, it’s one of those albums where if you're feeling down and you listen to it and you really pay attention to the lyrics are awesome. She's in there.
The assault is relevant to Rihanna's fans. Many of them think the singer is making a difference regarding the perception of domestic violence and feel she has become a role model.
I feel like, she opened up a door for young women that were scared to, [go] back to the limelight basically, said Vanessa Stone, also of the Bronx. She’s an example and a role model for a lot of young women. A lot of young women are stepping up now, so that’s a good thing, she added.
Rihanna was interviewed on ABC's 20/20 earlier this year where she spoke about the incident with Chris Brown and reached out to women dealing with domestic violence. The day after the interview aired, the National Domestic Violence hotline said that the number of calls to the organization rose 59 percent compared to the same period last year.
Another admirer of the Barbados-born singer, who feels close to her because of his Latin American roots, said that one of his relatives brought her domestic violence case to light after watching Rihanna's interview.
Chris Brown has also given an interview to ABC's Robin Roberts regarding the assault. It is set to air tonight 10 p.m. on “20/20.”