While celebrity news has gone understandably quiet during the pandemic, TheCity.ie’s Paul Caffrey offers up a taste of pop icon Ariana Grande’s (short) life thus far instead – and it’s endlessly entertaining.
Last. week, the brother of the suicide bomber who targeted Ariana Grande’s May 2017 gig at the Manchester Arena — killing children, teenagers and parents — was convicted by a jury for his role in planning and executing the shocking attack. Poignantly, each victim’s name was read to the court as the guilty verdict was announced.
For the 23-year-old Grammy award-winning superstar, it was an incredibly frightening experience. She’d just stepped off the stage on the night of May 22, 2017 when a deadly home-made bomb was detonated at the exit of the venue at 10.31pm, killing 22 people and injuring over 200.
The singing sensation and former Nickelodeon star was backstage when she heard the explosion and “fell to pieces”, according to Ariana: The Unauthorised Biography, by Danny White.
Having initially flown back to the US to recover from her own shock, she impressed even the toughest of cynics by returning to Manchester less than a fortnight later to stage a benefit concert to raise money for the victims of the attack and their families.
“Even with the concert merely announced, it felt like a healing process had begun,” writes White.
But the singer’s first priority on her return was to spend time comforting young victims of the atrocity, both at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and at the homes of some of the affected families.
“Her visit touched them deeply, it left one father in tears,” White writes.
Despite a London Bridge terrorist attack the night before the One Love Manchester concert, the show went ahead on June 4 at Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground — just a 15-minute drive from the Manchester Arena — albeit with heightened security.
The highly memorable show attended by 50,000 people, with well-known names of British pop performing, earned Ariana praise from highbrow publications around the world, as White outlines.
Forbes magazine lauded the pop princess for “so quickly” getting back on stage after the terrorist attack, and for organising a concert that was “a strong testament that the human spirit will endure”, while British newspaper The Independent said the concert was the “proper way to respond to hate”. Even journalist Piers Morgan called her an “admirable young woman”, the book recounts.
“A strong testament that the human spirit will endure”
Perhaps the most interesting part of this biography is its account of Ariana’s early life. Growing up, she played the French horn and was inspired by artists who were popular well before her time like Whitney Houston and even Judy Garland.
White also details her first “star quality” public performance aged eight as Annie in a community theatre group musical. We’re told how her mother Joan joined the production as a co-star because she felt Ariana was too young to be left alone at rehearsals.
At 210 pages, this book is an excellently researched, comprehensive and easy to read overview of Ariana Grande’s life so far, drawn from multiple newspaper reports, books and other sources. The only possible disappointment for fans is that it doesn’t reveal anything new.
While indeed “packed with fascinating details about the real Ariana” as its blurb boasts, none of these facts were uncovered by the writer himself. Still, a must-have reference book for any fan with a generous additional 16 pages of colour photography thrown in.