17 Musicians Who Came From Nothing: From Rags to Riches

musicians who came from nothing an image depicting homelessness
Image by Benjamin Disinger on Unsplash.

Last updated on June 6th, 2023 at 04:36 am

Popular musicians in our modern world have millions of dollars, massive homes, and expensive vehicles. However, not all started this way – many grew up with nothing.

Many celebrities took their humble beginnings and turned them into incredible careers. Take a seat and get ready as we talk about 17 musicians who came from nothing.

1. Nicki Minaj

nicki minaj
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First up on our list of musicians who came from nothing is rapper Nicki Minaj, who grew up in a home where her addicted father would sell her things for money. Eventually, she was able to build her career and make enough money to support her mother and bring her out of poverty, too. 

Related: 19 Singers Who Look Younger Than They Actually Are: Their Real Ages Will Shock You

2. Selena Gomez

selena gomez
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Before Selena Gomez rose to fame as a singer and actress, the star grew up with little money to get by on. She worked many odd jobs just to earn cheap food until she eventually reached her big break and continued to rise from there. 

3. Dolly Parton

dolly parton
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Dolly Parton is easily one of the biggest names in country music, but life wasn’t always so sweet for the incredible performer. Parton grew up in the rural mountains in a home with no running water or electricity, sleeping in the same room with her siblings on beds made of hay.

4. 50 Cent

50 cent
50 Cent shares the headlining Bill with his group G-Unit for the Radio One BirthDay Bash Atlanta Georgia June 18, 2016 At Phillips Arena. Image from Shutterstock.

Rapper 50 Cent grew up in the South Jamaica sector in Queens, New York, becoming involved in the drug world at 12 and getting shot as he tried to leave. He was discovered by Eminem, who helped him push his way out of poverty and into success.

5. Justin Bieber

justin bieber
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Pop star Justin Bieber grew up poor, bullied by other kids his age for saving a buck to make ends meet with his mom. Now, he has one of the largest net worths of any singer, and his mom is right by his side.

6. Mariah Carey

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Mariah Carey is successful today, but her triumph came from extensive work after moving to Manhattan by herself at 17. She lived on a mattress on the floor and waitressed before getting her solo record signed at Sony on her first attempt at contact.

7. Zayn Malik

zayn malik
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Next on our list of musicians who came from nothing is One Direction’s Zayn Malik, a pop star who grew up in a working-class family before he found his way to superstardom. He used his wealth to buy his mother a new home and now earns an excellent income for his talent.

8. Celine Dion

singers who are catholic
Celine Dion from Shutterstock.

Celine Dion grew up as the youngest in a family of 14 kids in the low-income home of her French-Canadian parents. She entertained at a piano bar owned by her parents until she finally hit her big break after sending a self-composed number to her music manager.

Related: 19 Famous Singers Who Are Catholic

9. Jay-Z

jay z and beyonce
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Jay-Z might be married to Beyonce and make millions now, but he began his career as a kid in Brooklyn’s Marcy Housing Projects. He got into plenty of trouble in his younger years but eventually became a rapper, kicked off his career, and became what he is today.

10. Jennifer Lopez

jennifer lopez
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Jennifer Lopez might be a singer and actress extraordinaire now, but she grew up in the Bronx, dropped out of college to try singing, and was even homeless for a short period. Lopez couch-surfed her way to a record label and is now one of the top-earning musicians in the world. 

11. Shania Twain

shania twain
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Shania Twain is another icon who grew up surrounded by violence in Ontario with her impoverished siblings. Twain’s parents died in a car crash when she was 21, and she sang at weddings and other events to support her siblings until she was finally able to break into music and show the world what she is made of. 

12. Eminem

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Eminem has some incredible songs, some of which are inspired by his life growing up on the streets of Detroit. He grew up in a working-class house, and over the years he worked multiple jobs to help keep his family afloat financially until he eventually found his way into the music industry.

13. P Diddy

P diddy
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P Diddy is one of the most well-known rappers in the world, but he came from nothing, also known as a gritty Harlem neighborhood and a family that couldn’t afford to pay for new shoes when he wore through them. He took up a paper route as a teen and other odd jobs to earn money until he finally got a break.

14. Snoop Dogg

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Another individual on our list of musicians who came from nothing is Snoop Dogg, a rapper who has made millions of dollars and is one of the well-known names in hip-hop. He grew up on the streets of Long Beach and got into plenty of trouble before he rose to fame.

15. Miranda Lambert

miranda lambert
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Miranda Lambert is a country superstar these days, but she wasn’t always as successful. Lambert was raised in a family that went financially bust in Texas and was even homeless for a time until her family moved in with her uncle. 

16. Cher

Cher at the Los Angeles premiere of ‘The Promise’ held at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, USA on April 12, 2017. Image from Shutterstock.

Cher grew up with a mother in the entertainment industry, but she had to live in an orphanage for a brief period when her mother couldn’t take care of her with her measly income. Despite this trauma, Cher believed and now makes millions of dollars doing what she loves.

17. Cardi B

cardi b
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Last up on our list of musicians who came from nothing is iconic rapper Cardi B, who was born in the Bronx and became a stripper to make money. As a result, she eventually ended up with an abusive boyfriend. After years of struggle, she drew media attention and was able to make her way into the music industry. 

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Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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