Tracing Ariana Grande’s Ethnicity and Who Her Parents Are

Ariana Grande is of Italian descent. She describes herself as an Italian-American with Sicilian and Abruzzese roots. Grande is the daughter of Joan Grande and Edward Butera. Her mother is a manufacturer of communications and safety equipment, while her father runs a graphic design firm in Boca Raton.

Ariana Grande’s name rings a bell in almost every part of the world. She is a pop and R&B singer loved for the way she integrates elements of electronic dance music, hip hop, and trap into her music and also for her wide vocal range. Ariana shares the same ethnicity as Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, and Madona, and like them, she has grown to become one of the most fascinating pop singers.

From the time she was a child, Ariana Grande had always been passionate about singing. This led her to join the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theater, where she participated in several musicals. As an eight-year-old, she performed with different orchestras, debuted on national TV singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the professional ice hockey team Florida Panthers, and performed at a karaoke lounge on a cruise ship.

At the age of 13, she decided it was time to pursue music professionally, but being too young and wanting to become an R&B singer, her managers made her put singing on hold. They encouraged her instead, to build herself a platform and get herself out there by getting a role on a TV show and sticking to acting until she was old enough to make the kind of music she wanted to make.

So, she did just that, landing a role on the Nickelodeon show Victorious, which shot her into the limelight. While she filmed Victorious, Ariana recorded and uploaded covers of songs by artists such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Adele on Youtube. In August 2012, she uploaded a video of her expert rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Emotions,” and it became an instant success, making the then-19-year-old Ariana Grande a hot property.

What is Ariana Grande’s Ethnicity? Is She Italian or Hispanic American?

While her name may sound Spanish, Ariana Grande is of Italian descent, the singer has described herself as being an Italian American with Sicilian and Abruzzese roots.

  • Full Name: Ariana Grande-Butera
  • Date of Birth: June 26, 1993
  • Age: 30 Years Old
  • Place of Birth:  Boca Raton, Florida
  • Father: Edward Butera
  • Mother:  Joan Grande
  • Height: 5′ 3″
Ariana Grande at the 2020 Grammy Awards Image Source

From the time the former Nickelodeon star became a superstar R&B and pop sensation, she has not ceased to keep her fans wanting more with each of her releases. She has also never been out of the headlines for a long time. But even as she makes chart-topping songs, her career is not free from controversy.

While it is common knowledge that the talented singer is an American citizen, most people are unaware of her ethnicity and this has been a reason for public disagreement. Some consider her to be white and others believe she is Latina while some others are of the opinion that she is black.

Those in the last category uphold their opinion citing Ariana Grande’s use of traditionally “black” language in her songs. They also insist that she is black as a result of the singer’s occasional near-black completion, which, unknown to them, she achieves by using so much fake tan.

Addressing the controversy in a tweet in 2011, Miss Grande, after searching for her roots, publicly announced via Twitter that she is of Italian heritage. More precisely, she has Sicilian and Abruzzese ancestry (which are both located in the Southern Italy area), meaning that both her father and her mother are descendants of an Italian family.

Following the clarification, the controversy died down. However, about seven years later, the young lady came back with another piece of information about her ethnicity. In a tweet she made on April 11, 2014, she revealed that she had discovered that she was actually half North African and half Greek, following deeper research into her ancestry. See the tweet below:

This got a lot of people asking why she was white if truly she was from Africa, and in a bid to answer the question, a conversation about the people of North Africa began. According to a number of commentators, about half of the people in North Africa are whites.

Meet Her Parents, Edward Butera and Joan Grande

Ariana Grande attends the 62nd Grammy Awards with her parents in January 2020 (Image Source)

Edward and Joan met in New York in the early 1990s and tied the knot in Manhattan in 1992. The following year, they relocated to Ariana’s birthplace, Boca Raton, Florida, when her mother was pregnant with her, and lived there together until 2002 when their marriage was dissolved and Edward moved out.

From the time Ariana Grande began her career, she has enjoyed the support of her family, especially her mother who has been in her life all through the journey. Her father, on the other hand, also supported her during the years she was starting out as a child and even after she became a professional singer.

Unlike her mother, he has not been so much in the picture, but that seems to have changed as you would find out below. In addition to being fully supported by her parents, Ariana’s maternal grandparents, Marjorie Grande, and late Frank Grande have also been among her strongest support system.

Edward Butera (Ariana Grande’s Father)

Ariana and dad Edward Grande

Born on the 19th of September 1958 in Maplewood, New Jersey, the singer’s father is an artist, a photographer, and a graphic designer based in Florida. He is the founder/owner of IBI Designs, Inc. as well as the creative head of the company, which has existed for more than twenty-eight years.

Edward studied at the New York Institute of Technology from where he graduated in 1981 with a degree in advertising and design. Following his graduation, he worked at several design firms in New York City where he eventually met and married Ariana’s mother. By their marriage, he became the stepfather of Frankie, her son from a previous relationship.

Ten years after his marriage to the pop singer’s mother, their union crashed and they both went their separate ways. At the time they divorced, Ariana was only eight years old and since then, she has not had the kind of close relationship she probably would have had with him if he were still married to her mother and living together.

However, they still loved each other a lot which explains why her father uses a picture of them together as his Twitter icon, describes himself as “Ariana’s daddy” on the platform, and often tweets about her. He also has a shirt with Ariana’s name written on it.

In August 2012, Miss Grande appeared on the cover of that month’s issue of Girl’s Life magazine in which she talked about her music, her then-red hair, and dating. Like any loving father would do, Edward purchased a copy of the magazine. He has also said he was looking for an opportunity to go out with Ariana to teach her how to fish.

For the love she has for her father, the singer, on her part, tweets about him sometimes. She even gave him a signed picture that says “I love you six times”. The relationship between Ariana and her father remained good until 2013 when they fell out.

Is There Still Bad Blood Between Ariana Grande and Her Dad?

Ariana revealed that she had not been on good terms with her dad since 2013. She made the disclosure during a 2014 interview with Seventeen and even though she chose not to let out details surrounding the rift, she told the publication that it was the most difficult thing she had to deal with. Speaking with the media she said, “It’s private, but it happened last year.

Ariana went on to reveal that she eventually mended fences with her father after giving their situation a deep thought. She told Seventeen, “It took me so long to be okay with it,” she said, adding, “The thing that got me there was embracing the fact that that I am made up of half my dad, and a lot of my traits come from him.

So much of me comes from my father, and for so long, I didn’t like that about myself. I had to accept that it’s okay not to get along with somebody and still love them.” Meanwhile, all through the years, Ariana was estranged from her father, she made mention of him once in a while both on her pages on social media and in her songs.

On Father’s Day in 2017, she posted an old photo of her and her father smiling while he held her as a baby and captioned it, “Happy Father’s Day ♡???? I love you.” She also mentioned her parents in her 2018 single, “Thank U, Next.” Making reference to both her father and mother she said “…One day I’ll walk down the aisle, holding hands with my mama. I’ll be thanking my dad ’cause she grew from that drama…”

Although we do not know exactly when the celebrity singer made up with her dad, we believe it might be in 2019. In July of the said year, Edward joined his daughter for her European tour and on October 14 the Nickelodeon star shared a picture she took with him during the tour on her Instagram story.

In the photo, she revealed that it was her dad’s first time visiting Europe, adding that she “Tried to show him as many things as possible in such a short amount of time. So happy and grateful for this trip I can’t fully express. My heart is screaming.” Also, sometime in August of the same year, a fan asked Edward if he sees his daughter a lot or not, and in response, he said, “I see her not as much as I would like, but we talk regularly.” This confirmed that they had already reconciled at the time.

Ariana Grande celebrates Thanksgiving with her parents for the first time in 18 years Image Source

On November 28 of the same year, Ariana took to Instagram stories, sharing several pictures and videos that gave her fans insight into what her Thanksgiving celebration looked like. In one of the video clips, her mother could be seen dancing with some of her friends and in another, Ariana and her dad could be seen having a chat. Among the pictures was a selfie she took with both of her parents beside her.

The then-26-year-old Grammy award-winning singer disclosed in one of the posts that the celebration was her very first time spending the holiday with both her father and mother in 18 years. Ariana’s father also shared a beautiful black and white photo he took with his daughter at the get-together on his Instagram page and captioned it, “No words can explain the joy.”

In January 2020, Ariana Grande attended the 62nd Grammy Awards alongside her father and mother. Edward enjoyed the honor of sitting beside his celebrity daughter at the event and even walked the red carpet with her, planting a kiss on her cheek while posing for pictures with the star girl and his ex-wife.

During her performance at the Grammy event, Ariana proved that things were truly much better between her and her father when she changed a portion of the lyrics of her song “Thank U, Next.” The part was previously, ‘…I’ll be thanking me dad/’cause she grew from the drama…’ But while she performed at the Grammy Award, she sang, ‘I’ll be thanking my dad because he is so awesome.’

Joan Grande (Ariana’s Mother)

riana Grande And MOM Joan Grande
Ariana Grande And MOM Joan Grande

Born on June 11, 1968, in Brooklyn, New York City, Joan is the youngest child of her parents -Marjorie Grande and Frank Grande (who passed on in 2014)- the older one being her sister Judy. She studied at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City.

In an interview with Complex magazine in November 2013, Ariana revealed that her “mom is a CEO and owns a company (Hose-McCann Communications) that manufactures communications equipment for the Marines and the Navy.” She went on to explain that her mother is not really the housewife type, adding that ” She’s the most badass, independent woman you’ll ever meet—not the cookies in the oven type.”

Before her marriage to Edward Butera, Joan had been married once to a man named Victor Marchion. It was their marriage that produced Ariana’s older half-brother named Frank James Michael Grande Marchion, who was born on January 24, 1983.

There is no doubt that Ariana’s mom is her biggest fan and her strongest pillar of support. They obviously enjoy a close relationship and the singer has, on several occasions, mentioned how much she loves her. Joan, who loves her daughter just as much, or even more, has constantly proven it by almost always being seen by Ariana’s side during photoshoots, tours, and promotional events.

Showing just how much she loves her mother, the singer managed to squeeze out time to pull off a surprise visit on her and her grandmom on Mother’s Day in 2019. At that time, she was on the North American leg of her Sweeter/ Thank U, Next tour but she didn’t let that stop her from being with the two most important women in her life on that special day.

Sharing with her Instagram fans how she pranked the ladies on that day, May 12, 2019, the pop star revealed that she began by speaking with her mother on FaceTime. She posted a screenshot of their video call on which she wrote a message that read, “I love you mommy. Happy Mother’s Day to the greatest human being in the world. You are everything and I celebrate you everyday. Wish I could hug you,” implying that they won’t be seeing each other anytime soon.

Image Source

Shortly after that, she shared another screenshot in which she uncovered the pleasant surprise. “JK surprise mama,” she added. “Went from the stage to the plane. See you soon mommy!” Although Ariana hid both of their faces with big black heart emojis, you could still partially see the surprise and happiness on her mom’s face upon hearing the news.

Image Source

By the time she got home, she updated her fans by posting pictures of her mother and grandmother, and a video clip that shows her acting silly with her grandma. Even though the singer spent only 12 hours at home before going back to work, she enjoyed every bit of her time with the ladies.

Speaking of her mother once, the superstar asserted that she is hard-working and disclosed that she is one of the people who inspired her to be who she currently is. She told Vogue in 2019 that as a child, they had a karaoke machine at home and everyone, including her mother, was always singing. They also watched old musicals as a family, particularly the Judy Garland–Mickey Rooney pictures.

Speaking during the interview, Miss Grande disclosed that her mom is goth, “Her whole wardrobe is modeled after Cersei Lannister’s. I’m not kidding,” she added. This is, for sure the reason she never wears any other color of clothing except black.

What Happened To Ariana Grande’s Parents’ Marriage?

As earlier mentioned, Joan Grande and Edward Butera became husband and wife in 1992 and welcomed their star daughter the following year, raising her together for only eight years. Sadly, their marriage did not survive for long as they separated in 2002 and eventually got divorced in 2003.

Following their divorce, Ariana’s father moved out of their home in Boca Raton, Florida, leaving the then-8-year-old singer and her half-brother with their mother. As a result, Ariana became much closer to her mother than her father as she revealed in a 2016 interview with Kiss FM. This was because, according to her, she never got to see her father because he lives in Florida.

Even though the “Sweetener” singer turned out well, her parents’ divorce surely left a mark on her. She has never said a word about what led to her parents’ split, but she sang about their failed marriage in “Thank U, Next”, saying, “One day I’ll walk down the aisle / Holding hands with my mama / I’ll be thanking my dad / ‘Cause she grew from the drama / Only wanna do it once, real bad / Gon’ make that shit last / God forbid something happens / Least this song is a smash.”

This points to the fact that her parents’ divorce probably affected her negatively in some way and as a result, she would want to get married just once and have her marriage last long so that her own kids wouldn’t have to experience what it feels like growing with a distant father. It’s been almost two decades since Joan and Edward parted ways and to date, there has not been news of either of them remarrying.

Meet Ariana’s Other Family Members Who Support And Inspire Her A Great Deal

It is a known fact that Ariana has a very strong fan base with over 82 million followers on Twitter and 237 million followers on Instagram. However, her biggest fan club is her family members, and this includes her half-brother, Frank, and her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Grande, in addition to her mom and dad, of course.

Like His Sister, Frank Is Also An Entertainer

  • Full Name: Frank James Michael Grande Marchione
  • Date of Birth: January 24, 1983
  • Age: 41 Years Old
  • Occupation: Dancer, Actor, Singer, Producer, Television Host, and YouTube Personality.

Frank, fondly called Frankie, was born in New York City and partly raised in Englewood, New Jersey. After his mother got married to Edward Butera following her divorce from his father (Victor Marchione, a physician), he moved with them to Boca Raton, Florida, and enrolled in Pine Crest School. There, he began to perform in musicals as a 5th grader.

The openly gay young man acquired his tertiary education at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania from where he graduated in 2005 with a degree in biology, theatre, and dance. Afterward, he considered towing the medical, line but decided to pursue theatre for one year before going to medical school. Eventually, his love for theatre held him back from looking the other way.

Frankie subsequently kicked off his career as a professional performer in 2007 and has performed in many theatre productions since then, including the Broadway musicals Rock of Ages and Mamma Mia! He has also been cast in off-Broadway theatre productions, on tour, and in regional stage productions.

In addition to acting, Frank has also produced a number of Broadway shows as well as cabaret acts in which he also performed. He created his Youtube channel named FrankieJGrande On October 2, 2012, and has 458K subscribers on the platform. Frank has also contested on the U.S. reality TV series Big Brother 16 and the UK reality show Celebrity Big Brother 18.

Does He Get Along With His Half-Sister?

For the first ten years of his life, Frankie Grande was an only child, and being lonely, he wanted a sibling who would be his friend. His desire eventually came to pass with the birth of Ariana Grande on June 26, 1993.

Frankie is ten years older than Ariana, but that notwithstanding, they have a very close relationship. In fact, the pair share such a tight bond that they see each other not just as half-siblings but as best friends. As a result, even though they both have time-demanding careers, they still don’t let it come between them.

On March 23, 2019, Frankie Grande attended the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and speaking of his bond with his kid sister, he said, “We’re talking 24/7. I was talking to her on my way in and I’ll probably talk to her as soon as I pick my phone back up. You know, we’re very, very close.” He went on to reveal that they spend at least one hour on FaceTime every day, adding “I don’t know where we find the time, but we just do it.”

Frankie also disclosed that when there’s a need for him to seek advice on issues pertaining to his relationships, Ariana is his first point of call. That was why she was among the first persons to console him when his 5-month relationship with the married couple, Mike Pophis and Daniel Adam, ended sometime in early 2019.

According to the actor, he “absolutely” trusts his sister’s advice. Similarly, Frankie is also the first person to be available to provide support or comfort for Ariana when she’s going through a difficult time. From the time they were kids, Ariana and Frankie have never ceased to support each other.

Frankie, almost always seen at every of Ariana’s events, never fails to get a seat on the front row and cheer her on louder than every other person in the auditorium. In 2019, he attended one of her shows during her Sweetener Tour and couldn’t help taking to Instagram to gush about how well she performed and how proud he was of her.

Returning the favor, Ariana Grande also gives Frank her full support all the time. The singer congratulated him on Twitter in February 2019 for staying sober for twenty months and in response, Frankie thanked her for supporting him through the difficult time. See their tweets below:

Ariana’s Grandmother Is One Of Her Major Inspirations

  • Full Name: Marjorie Grande aka Nonna
  • Date of Birth: 1925
  • Age: 99 years old

It is common knowledge that Ariana Grande loves her grandparents, Marjorie Grande and late Frank Grande, to bits and she has always talked about their significant contribution to the success of her career. Her grandma, aptly called Nonna, is a strong influence on her and has been a well from which the singer draws inspiration and wisdom since she was a child.

To date, the duo is still very close with each other and Nonna still has a stronghold on Ariana. In 2014, Miss Grande showed up on the Today Show with her grandmother. Speaking during the interview, Nonna said she was aware of her granddaughter’s talent from the time she was very young, and encouraging her to audition for a role in a local production of the musical Annie was her way of channeling her toward the right path.

She said, “When she was about six or seven years old, I made her audition for Annie. She auditioned and became a star. She became Annie.” Thanks to their wonderful relationship, the celebrity singer usually uploads pictures, quotes, and video clips of her granny on social media. In October 2018, she wished her grandmother a happy birthday on Instagram, posting a short clip in which she (Ariana) was asking her (Nonna) what she thought about her outfit.

On another occasion the “Sweetener” singer shared a memorable moment with her grandmother, it was on Twitter. Sharing a very hilarious Twitter thread about the sweet old lady, Ariana wrote: “she said ‘ur a tough cookie like me! and everyone wants to be around you cause ya just like me ya see?’ sksjsjs”. She continued: “she also told me this morning that she thinks i have outstanding knees….? and that i got them from her…..?” Very funny right? And Ariana promised this is just one of the many times her Nonna has made funny comments.

On the 6th of December 2018, the “Thank U, Next” singer attended the Billboard’s Women in Music event where she received the Woman of the Year award. In celebration of the prestigious award, Ariana Grande and Marjorie Grande decided to get tattoos together and the singer shared the amazing moment on her Instagram Stories.

Nonna had the word “Ciccio” tattooed on her left finger in honor of her deceased husband. Even though it was her very first tattoo, Marjorie Grande endured the pain like a heroine. She had the tattoo drawn on her finger while her daughter, Joan, and her grandson, Frankie watched, and sensing that they might be worried about her she said, “I feel fine. I’ve had a little bit more excitement than this!”

The Grande matriarch even joked mid-way into the body art drawing saying, “You don’t know what pain is!” As soon as Nonna was done with her tattoo, everyone in the room clapped and cheered in celebration, including Ariana’s dog. Subsequently, the “Sweetener” coroner also shared a picture of her own tattoo.

Like her granny, she also had hers on her left hand but in a different design. Ariana tattooed a crescent moon close to a few stars and a sun on the back of her palm. Miss Grande continues to honor Marjorie, showing how much she values her and the relationship they share. During the VMAs in August 2018, the singer brought her grandma on stage while she performed “God Is A Woman”.

At the end of her singing, she invited her mother and cousins on stage in a bid to express her appreciation to them. She eventually rounded off the performance by holding the hands of both her mother and her grandmother, showing that they are the two most powerful influences in her life.

Ariana celebrates the women in her life at the VMAs in August 2018 (Image Source)

Meanwhile, it is likely that fans of the singer are familiar with her grandfather, Frank Grande, who believed in her and encouraged her to pursue her music career. Ariana talks about him as much as she talks about her grandmother, but sadly, he lost his life in 2014 after battling cancer for years.

Speaking of her late grandfather, the celebrity shared what he told her with Seventeen. According to her, “He was like, ‘you’re a star, I know in my heart you’re going to make this family so proud. You’re a blessing.’ And I was like, oh my god, and started crying, and I trusted it.”

Miss Grande, no doubt, is blessed with the best people around her in the form of family.

Chidimma Eze
Chidimma Eze
Chidimma is a Mass Communications graduate with about 4 years experience. She has a flair for all things entertainment and when she's not writing, you would most likely find her either spending time with her family, binge-watching whatever television series that holds her interest at the time or silently editing other people’s grammar.


Featured Today

Fact Check

We strive for fairness and accuracy, if you've found a possible error or something that needs updating, please contact us

Related Stories