The following can be read in this Wednesday’s edition of The Weekender.

Surely while growing up in Barbados, neither Shontelle Layne nor Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty pictured how their careers would eventually shake out.

Rewind back to a time when both Bajan teenagers were enrolled as “Cadets”, a young Army program in the country. Rihanna may be the current pop music princess, but at the time the roles were reversed. Shontelle was in charge as a drill sergeant, even at one point ordering Fenty to drop and give her 10.

“It was a whole group, and they were late,” explained Shontelle, who is still friends with the “Umbrella” singer. “As drill sergeant, there are people above me who are expecting me to discipline people who are straggling.”

But Layne insists, the incident was isolated.

“Funny enough, Rihanna was a really good cadet. Real good. Super sharp. But that day was just not a good day for her.”

Certainly RiRi’s ups and downs have been well-chronicled since – the latest set of events related to the alleged abuse by R&B singer Chris Brown on the night before the Grammy’s. The Barbados natives have spoken since the incident.

“She is doing good,” says Layne. “She’s looking super-fly. I’m really happy.”

Meanwhile, the 23 year-old songstress isn’t doing too bad herself. Shontelle gained global notoriety with her smash hit, “T-Shirt” – which leads off her debut LP, Shontelligence.

Turns out there was a specific shirt to ignite the song, and the singer still owns it. But she would not reveal the shirt’s original purchaser.

“He doesn’t matter anymore. Music is my boyfriend.”And music treats Shontelle well – affording her black diamonds, a couple pairs of the now infamous Jimmy Choo’s, and a Louis Vuitton bag or three.

Layne told me this – but she’s also told countless others using Twitter. Many celebrities allow both fans and journalists unprecedented access in to their inner lives and thoughts with the micro-blogging service. But in a growing trend, reporters are now integrating a person’s tweets in to questions and stories. So of course, I asked Shontelle what inspired tears of joy a few nights ago.

“I cannot believe he has a list of my tweets!” she exclaimed before attempting to change the subject by pointing out that not all of her posts are personal – some are meant to inspire.

“Right now times are hard and I feel like yunno, if I’m in a position where I can make someone’s day or make them feel better or make them smile or give them some hope, I’m totally down for that.”

Her intentions are well placed within the Twitter-verse, but I continued to inquire as to the source of the crying.

“Well, you see… well, uh, I mean…”

So much for that 140 character limit.

Listen to Ralphie Aversa weekdays from 5-10p on 97 BHT.

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