Elena Alexandra Apostoleanu (born 16 October 1986), known professionally as Inna, is a Romanian singer and songwriter. Born in Mangalia and raised in Neptun, she studied political science at Ovidius University before meeting the Romanian trio Play & Win and pursuing a music career. She adopted the stage name "Alessandra" in 2008 and adopted a pop-rock style; later that year, she changed her stage name to "Inna" and began releasing house music. "Hot" (2008), her debut single, was a commercial success worldwide and topped the Romanian Top 100 and Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart, among others. Inna's debut studio album of the same name followed in August 2009 and was certified Gold and Platinum. It featured several other successful singles in Europe, including "Amazing" (2009), her second number one single in Romania.
Inna's second album, I Am the Club Rocker (2011), yielded global success for the single "Sun Is Up" (2010). The track won the Eurodanceweb Award, making Inna the first and only Romanian artist to win the award. In 2011, it was announced Inna was the highest-paid Romanian and Eastern European artist. Her follow-up studio album, Party Never Ends (2013), was nominated for two consecutive years for Best Album at the Romanian Music Awards and reached the top ten in Mexico. It featured "More than Friends", a moderate European hit in collaboration with Daddy Yankee. In 2014, Inna signed with Atlantic Records and released the commercially successful "Cola Song" with J Balvin, which was used to promote that year's FIFA World Cup.
Inna's fourth and eponymous studio album was released in October 2015 and included "Diggy Down", the singer's third number-one single in Romania. Beginning in 2017, Inna has been a coach on the talent show Vocea României Junior alongside Andra and Marius Moga. In the same year, she also released her fifth record Nirvana, whose singles found chart success in European countries such as Romania and Turkey. With global album sales of four million copies from her first three studio albums, Inna is the best-selling Romanian artist. She has received several awards and nominations, including the Balkan Music Awards, European Border Breakers Award, MTV Europe Music Awards and the Romanian Music Awards. Inna is a human rights activist, participating in campaigns against domestic violence and in support of children's and LGBT rights.
Life and career
1986–2007: Early life and career
Elena Alexandra Apostoleanu was born on 16 October 1986 in Mangalia, Romania, to Giorgic and Maria Apostoleanu, who are now divorced. She was raised in Neptun, where her father worked as a sea rescuer and her mother as a dancer and singer. As a child, Inna competed as a swimmer and became interested in other sports like football and basketball as well as music. She listened to a variety of musical styles as a teenager, including electro house and europop, and to artists such as Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Inna attended the sole, now dissolved, elementary school in Neptun. Following this, the singer enrolled at Colegiul Economic (Economy College) in Mangalia, later studying political science at Ovidius University in Constanţa. She also took singing lessons and participated in music festivals. After an unsuccessful audition for the Romanian band A.S.I.A. and other failed music projects, she sold slippers in Neptun.
When Inna worked in an office, her manager heard her singing and contacted the production team Play & Win with whom she recorded several songs. Adopting the stage name Alessandra in 2008, she entered "Goodbye" and "Sorry" to represent Romania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008; neither was selected. The singer performed "Goodbye" live on the primetime TV show, Teo!, her first televised appearance. Later that year, she changed her stage name to Inna since it was easy to memorize and was the name her grandfather called her when she was young. Early in her career, Inna released pop-rock songs, but switched to "commercial" minimal-infused house music after changing her stage name. In a News of the World interview, Inna cited Swedish House Mafia, The Black Eyed Peas and Jessie J as inspirations. Others include Pink, Houston and Dion.
2008–2011: Hot and I Am the Club Rocker
Inna's debut single, "Hot", was sent to Romanian radio stations in August 2008. It topped the Romanian Top 100 that winter, prompting her to be booked at Romanian nightclubs. The track was also commercially successful throughout Europe, and topped Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart in early 2010. "Love" (2009) was released as Inna's second single, reaching number four in Romania. The singer received the first nominations of her career at the 2009 Eska Music Awards in Poland for "Hot". Her Romanian label, Roton, signed a contract with the American label Ultra Records in April 2009.
Inna collaborated with Romanian musician Bogdan Croitoru on her follow-up single, "Déjà Vu" (2009), which they released under pseudonyms (Bob Taylor and Anni) before revealing their true identities after a period of speculation. The single was as commercially successful as its predecessors. Inna had her second number-one hit on the Romanian Top 100 with "Amazing", her fourth single, in 2009. The song was originally written by Play & Win for Romanian singer Anca Baidu, who later complained they had "stolen" it. Inna's debut studio album, Hot, was released in August 2009 and also included the last single "10 Minutes" (2010). The record was commercially successful and was certified Gold in Romania and Platinum in France. As of December 2011, it had sold 500,000 copies worldwide. Inna was the Best Romanian Act at the 2009 and 2010 MTV Europe Music Awards, the first Romanian artist to win the award in two consecutive years. In 2010, she was also nominated for Best European Act.
Inna's sixth single, "Sun Is Up", was released in October 2010 and peaked at number two on the Romanian Top 100. It did well in a number of other European countries, earning Gold in Switzerland and Italy and Silver in the United Kingdom. "Sun Is Up" won the Eurodanceweb Award in 2010, the first time Romania had won the award. That year, Inna also received a career award at the Zece Pentru România Awards. She released her second studio album, I Am the Club Rocker, in September 2011. Featuring europop, dance-pop, techno and house music, the record was honored as one of the year's best albums by her label Roton and was certified Gold in Poland. The album was promoted by the I Am the Club Rocker Tour (2011–12) of Europe and the United States. During Mexican dates, Inna did several interviews and radio appearances. She had her first major Romanian concert at the Arenele Romane (Roman Arena) in Bucharest, where she arrived by helicopter "like a diva".
Titled "Club Rocker" (2011), featuring Flo Rida, the second single from I Am the Club Rocker was moderately successful. It was the subject of a lawsuit when Spanish singer Robert Ramirez sued Play & Win for copying the refrain of his song, "A Minute of Life"; Play & Win won the court case in 2018. Three subsequent singles, "Un Momento" (2011), "Endless" (2012) and "Wow" (2012), were released from the album. "Endless" peaked at number five on the Romanian Top 100, while "Wow" reached the top ten. In December 2011 Inna was offered a lead role in a French film but turned it down for unknown reasons. According to Libertatea, Inna became the highest-paid Romanian and Eastern European artist in 2011.
2012–2016: Party Never Ends and Inna
Televiziunea Română (TVR) approached Inna in early 2012 to represent Romania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, but she turned the offer down due to scheduling conflicts. In the same year, she released the single "Caliente", which she dedicated to her Mexican fans. "Tu și eu", a Romanian language single, received heavy airplay in Romania and peaked at number five. This was followed by another top ten hit, "Inndia" (2012). On New Year's Eve, Inna presented a concert at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
She released her third studio album, Party Never Ends, in March 2013, featuring the commercially successful singles "More than Friends" (2013) with Daddy Yankee and "In Your Eyes" (2013) with Yandel. "More than Friends" was controversial, since its writers were accused of plagiarizing Pitbull, Akon and David Rush's "Everybody Fucks" (2012). Party Never Ends peaked at number ten in Mexico, and was nominated for Best Album at the 2013 and 2014 Romanian Music Awards. In March 2013, Inna was the guest singer on "P.O.H.U.I." by the Moldavian music project Carla's Dreams, which reached number three in Romania and was honored as the year's best song at the Romanian Top Hits Awards. In late 2013, Inna contributed to Pitbull's "All the Things" on his EP, Meltdown.
"Cola Song", a collaboration with J Balvin released under Atlantic Records in April 2014, was successful in Europe, and was certified Platinum by Productores de Música de España (PROMUSICAE). It promoted the FIFA World Cup 2014, and was used in the dance video game Just Dance 2017. In 2014, Inna collaborated a second time with Pitbull on "Good Time", and was featured on Romanian rapper Puya's "Strigă!", which peaked at number two in Romania. She released her fourth, eponymous studio album in October 2015. Another version of the album, Body and the Sun, was released in Japan in July 2015. One of the singles released from the record was "Diggy Down" (2014), her third number-one hit in Romania. Based on airplay, it won the Best Dance award at the Media Music Awards. Inna's next single, "Bop Bop" (2015), peaked at number two in Romania, and "Rendez Vous" (2016) was certified Gold in Poland. Also in 2015, Inna was the Best Romanian Act and was nominated for Best European Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards. Alexandra Stan's "We Wanna", with Inna and Daddy Yankee, was a moderate hit. Inna also contributed uncredited vocals to Carla's Dreams "Te rog", which went on to reach number one in Romania.
2016–present: Nirvana and Yo
In August 2016, Inna was the opening act at the Untold Festival. She also became a member of the supergroup G Girls, with whom she released two singles ("Call the Police" and "Milk and Honey"). In early 2017, Inna was announced as a coach on Vocea României Junior with Andra and Marius Moga, and in the May of the same year her YouTube channel surpassed two billion total views. The singer's fifth studio album, Nirvana, was released in December 2017. Singles featured on the record included "Gimme Gimme" (2017), "Ruleta" (2017) and "Nirvana" (2017), which attained commercial success in several European countries including Romania and Turkey. "Ruleta" and "Nirvana" peaked at numbers three and two in her native country, respectively. Another pair of top ten singles in Romania, "Nota de plată" and "Pentru că", followed in late 2017 and 2018 with Moldovan group The Motans.
Inna announced the release of her sixth studio album, Yo, for late 2018. Containing songs written solely in Spanish, Inna took entire creative control over the record and worked extensively with Romanian producer David Ciente. She described Yo's material as experimental and gypsy-influenced, a departure from her previous work.
Philanthropy and awards
In late November 2011, Inna joined the anti-domestic violence campaign Durerea nu este iubire (Pain is Not Love) empowering women to stand up to abuse, and signed a petition asking the Romanian government to strengthen a domestic-violence law. An activist for children's rights in Romania, she endorsed the 2012 UNICEF No More Invisible Children campaign. Inna began the Bring the Sun Into My Life campaign to increase public awareness of violence against women. She also recorded "Tu tens la força" ("You Have the Power"), a Catalan language cover version of Gala's "Freed from Desire" (1996), for the 2015 Marató de TV3 telethon. Inna participated in Cartoon Network Romania's anti-bullying CN Clubul Prieteniei (CN Friendship Club) in 2016, and recorded a new opening theme for the Romanian-language version of The Powerpuff Girls. That year, she and other Romanian celebrities signed an open letter supporting the LGBT community in response to a Romanian Orthodox Church-backed action to amend the constitutional definition of a family. This had been criticized by Romanian and international human-rights groups as curtailing LGBT rights.
Inna was called "one of Romania's biggest exports" by The Guardian, based on her sales and popularity. She has also received a number of awards and nominations, including five Balkan Music Awards, a European Border Breakers Award, three MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Romanian Act and thirteen Romanian Music Awards. Inna's 2011 net worth was estimated at €8,000,000 (approximately $9.3 million US), and by March 2016 she had sold four million copies of her first three studio albums. In 2015, Antena 3 reported that Inna was Romania's best-selling artist abroad.
Inna dated her manager Lucian Ștefan for ten years until 2013 when she left him because of his infidelity. In the same year, the singer began an ongoing relationship with American photographer John Perez, who has one daughter named Kaliah from an earlier marriage. Although she denies it, multiple observers have suggested that she has had plastic surgery on her face and has breast implants. In May 2018, the singer was hospitalized after collapsing on an unstable stage during her tour in Turkey; the tour was not affected by the event. As of March 2017, Inna resides with her mother and grandmother in a villa she bought in Bucharest.
- Studio albums
- Hot (2009)
- I Am the Club Rocker (2011)
- Party Never Ends (2013)
- Inna (2015)
- Nirvana (2017)
- Yo (2018)