Orianthi Penny Panagaris (born 22 January 1985) is an Australian musician, singer and songwriter who rehearsed in 2009 with Michael Jackson in preparation for his This Is It concert series, and performed with Alice Cooper’s touring band. Her 2009 debut single “According to You” peaked at No. 3 in Japan, No. 8 in Australia and No. 17 in the US; her second album, Believe, received a worldwide release in late 2009. The same year, she was named one of the “12 Greatest Female Electric Guitarists” by Elle magazine. She also won the “2010 Breakthrough Guitarist of the Year” award hosted by Guitar International magazine.
Solo career and collaborations
Orianthi started working on her major label debut Believe in 2007, which was released in October 2009. The album produced the worldwide hit “According to You”, which was the Single of the Week on iTunes on 27 October 2009, reached number 2 on US radio airplay and charted to number eight in Australia, three in Japan, and achieved platinum status in the US and Australia. The charismatic rock instrumental “Highly Strung” featuring Steve Vai became a popular YouTube video with millions of views and climbing, and her song “Suffocated” was featured on Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock as a playable song. Orianthi followed up with a four-song EP including two singles “Shut Up and Kiss Me” and “Courage”.
Orianthi appeared on several late night shows; most notably, she appeared on American Idol results show, which aired on 26 March 2010. In 2010, she toured extensively, with headlining shows in the US, Japan, Australia, and Malaysia. She also opened for other artists including: John Mayer, Mika, Kid Rock, Daughtry and over 30 dates for Adam Lambert’s Glam Nation Tour with former Idol contestant Allison Iraheta. Orianthi performed at various music festivals and charity functions most notably at the Stand Up to Cancer telethon.
Orianthi has been very prolific in collaborating and being featured by many artists. She is featured on Iraheta’s third single “Don’t Waste the Pretty” and on Fefe Dobson’s song “Can’t Breathe” which appears on Fefe Dobson’s album Joy released in November 2010. She has stated that the people she has collaborated with (i.e. Allison Iraheta and Lacey Mosley) are some of her best friends.
She recorded for the song “Sadda Haq” composed by Academy award-winning composer A. R. Rahman for a Bollywood 2011 film soundtrack Rockstar. The song became very popular and garnered substantial media coverage in India for Orianthi, being cited for her time as Michael Jackson’s lead guitarist.
On 12 October 2011, the 5 track EP Fire, produced by Dave Stewart was released as an iTunes download.
Her third studio album, Heaven in This Hell, was released on 12 March 2013.
Orianthi joined supergroup Hollywood Vampires on the track “Whole Lotta Love” from the band’s 2015 self-titled debut album.
In October 2016, Orianthi featured in The 2016 NRL Grand Final pre-game entertainment alongside Richie Sambora. Their performance was met with mixed reviews, and Sambora defended their performance the following day on Twitter.
On 29 September 2017, Orianthi and Richie Sambora released a five-song EP called Rise under the name RSO (an acronym of the two members’ initials). They released another EP Making History on 15 December 2017, and their debut album Radio Free America was released on 11 May 2018. The band performed on the 5th episode of Season 11 of the PBS performance series Soundstage, which premiered on 3 May 2018.
Orianthi appears on the track Limelight from Don Felder’s American Rock and Roll album, released in April 2019. On August 31, 2020 a new album, O, was announced: it was released via Frontiers Records on November 6, produced by Marti Frederiksen and was preceded by single “Sinners Hymn”.