The Time I Cried At A Rihanna Show

Photo courtesy of Dana Gorab

I first heard of Rihanna the summer I turned 17, when I was working as a ranger in an all-girls forestry program in Northern Ontario. On one of the last days of the program, the coolest girl at the camp told me that she liked Rihanna, and that was it; my life was changed.

Six years later, in 2012, I was in my third year of university for music. Studying pop production and singing, I had no shame in the Rihanna posters taped up on my wall. Not only had I devoured all of her music, but I was a true fan of her brand. Her seemingly badass confidence inspired me to no end. I channeled Rihanna in every song I produced, every show I performed and in every spit-spackled scolding I gave to the boys vying for my affections. Rihanna was the spirit I called on to propel me through the tumultuous first few years away from home.

So, when Rihanna announced Toronto tour dates for March 2013, I was ready. I scraped together every dollar (and I mean scraped) in order to pay for the most expensive concert tickets I had ever bought - only my idol could conjure such lavish expenditure from me, which I planned and bought months in advance.

And then, out of nowhere, I won a pair of tickets for Rihanna's surprise 777 Tour that November.

A Facebook contest I entered had paid off...

So I cried!

I cried from shock. I cried because I was so broke that I couldn't imagine being able to afford seeing Rihanna twice in the span of a year. I cried because the show was the next day. I cried because I could invite a +1. And I cried because I was finally going to see my idol, who in large part had influenced my entire career path, and I was seeing her in person tomorrow.

That night was a whirlwind. I called my biggest Rihanna-loving friend and we made a plan to ditch our music improvisation lecture to go stand in line early the next day at the Danforth Music Hall. I barely slept, and the next day we dressed our best and made our way down to the venue two hours early so we could be first in line.

Pushed up against the stage, I remember seeing Rihanna walk out like a god. She was like the living manifestation of all of my hopes and dreams. And when she sang her hits, notably "Cockiness", “Birthday Cake", "Diamonds" and "We Found Love", we sang along every word. I touched her hand as she waved it through the crowd, and I beamed with happiness.

Months later, when we saw her at the ACC, thousands and thousands of fans surrounding us this time, we laughed and cried again.

It's surreal to think of it now, so many years later. It feels like I'm explaining the moment that I met a Messiah. But for me, it was truly a life-changing concert, and I'm in awe looking back on that once-in-a-lifetime moment.

The time that I won tickets to see my biggest musical inspiration, Rihanna.

- Emma Hewson, singer/songwriter