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Aguilera, Christina

Christina Aguilera

Singer, songwriter

Pop vocal star Christina Aguilera conveys sophistication and poise, self-assurance and grace as she sings and swings her way through the lyrics of popular songs. Aguilera started her career as an American teen idol, but that image concealed her true identity as a precocious and introspective woman on the brink of self-discovery. Aguilera spent her adolescence as a girl-next-door song-and-dance performer, went through a coming-of-age phase in which she experimented with a highly sexualized image, and finally made the difficult transition from youth icon to adult performer.

Aguilera was the oldest child of Shelly and Fausto Aguilera. She was born December 18, 1980, in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Her father, an Ecuadorian-born sergeant in the U.S. Army, kept his family on the move during her early childhood. Aguilera was home schooled, as the family spent their time in Texas and New Jersey and lived overseas in Japan. Her mother, a musician, played both violin and piano, and Aguilera's own love of music was nurtured at an early age. Her passion soon turned to her salvation as her father experienced emotional difficulties and developed a bent for physical violence and verbal abuse against his family.

Aguilera learned very quickly to find an escape from her dismal home life by focusing on music. Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music became a childhood favorite. She enjoyed listening to the title song and singing it as well, and the film became an uplifting experience for the young musician. When she was six years old her parents parted ways. The separation developed into a difficult divorce, and Aguilera lived with her mother and younger sister in Wexford, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, for the next eight years. When the promising young diva was 14, her mother married paramedic Jim Kearns; overnight, Aguilera and her sister inherited a new sibling, a stepbrother named Casey. Not long afterward a new baby brother joined the family.

Aguilera's first hit recording appeared on the music charts when she was 18 years old, although her career as a professional performer dated back to elementary school. She was an entertaining singer even as a small child, and by the age of six she was performing for relatives. She exhibited unusual style, sophistication, and poise for her years, and by the age of eight some saw her as a prodigy. She appeared on television's Star Search talent contest but failed to win, and although she fought back tears she congratulated the singer who bested her. The loss never hindered Aguilera's career, and by age ten she was singing the national anthem at major league sports attractions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was 12 when she auditioned successfully for a spot as a Mouseketeer on the New Mickey Mouse Club program in Orlando, Florida. The show, a reprise of Walt Disney's original 1950s show, was the spawning ground for a generation of new "bubblegum" pop singers, including Britney Spears, J. C. Chasez of 'N Sync, and others. The Disney show continued for two years, after which Aguilera's career took her to venues around the world, including Tokyo, Japan, and Brasov, Romania.

Although she was already a veteran entertainer, her true "big break" came in 1998 when she auditioned successfully to sing the song "Reflections" in the Disney Studios' animated film release Mulan. Aguilera won the audition because of her exceptional range. With her powerful voice and her bent for clear vibrato, the tiny (five-foot two inches tall) blond singer hit the song's high E with ease, and "Reflections" became a hit tune, rising to number 15 on the singles charts. RCA record executives signed Aguilera to a recording contract.

Major Hits

Aguilera taped her first full-length album for release in 1999. She spent 45 days on tour to promote the album's single release, "Genie in a Bottle," which soared to number one on the pop charts. The hit single spurred album sales, and the full-length CD climbed the record charts, leaving Aguilera with no time to look back as her career jumped into high gear. Early in 2000 the release of a second single from the album, What a Girl Wants, also became a major hit and sent the album into platinum sales. By the middle of 2000, the album had logged more than ten million sales worldwide, and "Genie in a Bottle" became a hit video as well.

For the Christmas holiday in 1999, RCA released Aguilera's Christmas Song album, featuring Etta James and a complete 70-piece orchestra backing the two on the recording. Also in 1999, Aguilera received an invitation to appear in "Christmas at the White House," a Turner Network television special with President Bill Clinton. Clinton enjoyed Aguilera's performance and invited her to appear again in a millennium special, also televised from Washington, D.C. Appearances by Aguilera were in such high demand that she was forced to decline the millennium invitation in Washington in order to honor a previous commitment to appear in an MTV music special from New York for the traditional New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square. Ladies Home Journal magazine featured Aguilera in a New Year's retrospective of the most fascinating women of 1999, which was televised on the CBS-TV network.

Aguilera, her celebrity on the rise, appeared at football's Super Bowl in January of 2000. She headlined the halftime gala along with popular singer Enrique Iglesias. The following month she received two Grammy Award nominations, for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance of 1999, and for Best New Artist of the Year. She admitted her astonishment at winning the Grammy for Best New Artist. Her adolescent appeal, combined with a mature talent, earned her immense popularity, and she was inundated with offers for magazine interviews, appearances on talk shows, and assorted performance opportunities. With attractive blue eyes and a petite figure, Aguilera adorned magazine covers, including those of Teen People, Latina, and Entertainment Weekly.

For the Record …

Born December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, NY; daughter of Fausto (a military officer) and Shelly (a musician) Aguilera; married Jordan Bratman (a recording industry executive), November 19, 2005.

Accepted as Mouseketeer, New Mickey Mouse Club, 1993; performed song "Reflections" on soundtrack of film Mulan; signed to RCA label, 1998; released album Christina Aguilera, 1999; released Spanish-language album Mi Reflejo, 2000; released album Stripped, 2002; released album Back to Basics, 2006.

Awards: Grammy Awards: for Best New Artist, 1999; Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, for "Lady Marmalade," 2001; Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, for "Beautiful," 2003.

Addresses: Record company—BMG Entertainment, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036. Website—Christina Aguilera Official Website—http://www.christinaaguilera.com.

By age 19, her resume of appearances bridged several generations, as she boasted appearances on Good Morning America, The Donny and Marie Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Rosie O'Donnell Show. She sang on Saturday Night Live, and she held the distinction of making the only appearance by a woman on Men Strike Back, a VH-1 response to the cable channel's popular diva telecasts that featured popular female singers. She was a featured performer and personality on numerous awards shows, including the World Music Awards and the Essence Awards. At the ASCAP Pop Awards she introduced her version of "At Last," a classic done previously by Etta James, for whom Aguilera expressed great admiration. Aguilera was in demand for television specials such as Disney Summer Jams. She spent the summer of 2000 as the star of a "Sears and Levi's present Christina Aguilera" tour.

Aguilera had maintained a strong connection with her Ecuadorian family background and developed an enormous following among Latino teenagers. Early in 2000 she recorded a Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo (My Reflection), learning the words phonetically in order to overcome her lack of fluency in the language. It had been her wish to record a Spanish language album even before her first English language release, and the album included Spanish versions of several of her original English language hits. She had spoken Spanish as a child, and she studied the language both before and after recording. The album's title song was a Spanish version of Aguilera's 1998 Disney hit "Reflections," and the single release "Genio Atrapado" was a Spanish version of her English language hit "Genie in a Bottle."

Leila Cobo of Billboard praised the album, predicting that Aguilera's style might generate a new type of Latino music—a modern genre with rhythm and blues overtones. David Gleason of the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation also predicted a prominent posture for Aguilera as a unique new Latina star, singing rhythm and blues instead of salsa. Several Spanish language Aguilera singles registered strong performances on the Latin music charts in 2000 and 2001, but by that time the singer was pursuing a new aspect of her musical personality. The album Stripped appeared in 2002, and it presented to music buyers a very different Christina Aguilera from the ex-Mouseketeer they had known up to that point.

Beautiful

Appearing on the cover with only her long hair for a top covering, Aguilera claimed that the album's title referred to her emotions. However, noted Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide, "Most things about Stripped suggest sex." The album featured major contributions by hip-hop producer Scott Storch, who gave Aguilera's self-penned songs a tough urban edge. Stripped, though a major hit by the standards of ordinary singers, failed to repeat the chart-topping performance of Christina Aguilera, and its most successful single was also its least typical: "Beautiful," a ballad penned by songwriter Linda Perry, earned Aguilera a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

After the polarized response to Stripped, Aguilera took some time off to plan her next move, although she was never completely out of the headlines. The happiest event in Aguilera's life during her four-year hiatus from recording was her marriage on November 19, 2005, to recording executive Jordan Bratman at the Auberge du Soleil resort in California's Napa Valley.

Aguilera's third official studio album (2001's Just Be Free was an unauthorized collection of early demo recordings), the two-disc Back to Basics, was released in 2006. Gone were Aguilera's teen star and sexpot images, replaced by a 1940s-inspired look that made her somewhat resemble classic movie star Jean Harlow. Musically, too, Aguilera underwent a makeover. The album looked back to a variety of classic pop and soul styles, fusing them with modern electronic beats. Madonna loomed as a strong musical influence on Aguilera, and songwriter Linda Perry returned as an important creative contributor. Gone, however, was Storch, kissed off by Aguilera on the dance-oriented first disc in a song called "F.U.S.S." and replaced by a group of several producers that included Perry. "It's an album to build a career upon," noted the All Music Guide's Erlewine, and with it, a teen star grew up. In 2007 Aguilera was back in style with a 41-city North American tour that saw her make ten costume changes in the course of a 90-minute set.

Selected discography

Singles (all RCA/BMG label)

"Reflections," 1998.

"Genie in a Bottle," 1999.

"What a Girl Wants," 2000.

"Genio Atrapado," 2000.

"Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You)," 2000.

"I Turn to You," 2000.

"Por Siempre Tú," 2000.

"Ven Conmigo (Solamente Tú)," 2000.

"Lady Marmalade," 2001.

"Pero Me Acuerdo de Ti," 2001.

"Beautiful," 2002.

"Dirrty," 2002.

"Fighter," 2003.

"The Voice Within," 2004.

"Ain't No Other Man," 2006.

"Candyman," 2006.

"Hurt," 2006.

Albums

Christina Aguilera, RCA, 1999.

My Kind of Christmas, RCA, 1999.

Mi Reflejo, BMG Latin/RCA, 2000.

Just Be Free, RCA, 2001.

Stripped, RCA, 2002.

Back to Basics, RCA, 2006.

Sources

Periodicals

Advocate, September 12, 2006, p. 42.

Billboard, August 12, 2000, p. 13.

Newsweek, July 31, 2006, p. 50.

New Yorker, September 4, 2006, p. 137.

People, December 5, 2005, p. 92; March 19, 2007, p. 130.

Rolling Stone, October 28, 1999, p. 93; June 6-20, 2000, p. 82.

Online

"Christina Aguilera," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (March 26, 2007).

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Aguilera, Christina: 1980—: Pop Singer

Christina Aguilera: 1980: Pop singer





Before her twenty-first birthday, Christina Aguilera claimed multiple platinum records, three Grammy Awards, and record sales well over twenty million copies. A former child actor on the Disney series The New Mickey Mouse Club, Aguilera made her first recording as a fourteen-year-old on a duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. While the song was successful in Japan, Aguilera returned to the life of a high school student in Pennsylvania before gaining a recording contract with RCA Records in 1998. Her first single, "Genie in a Bottle," sold over two million copies in 1999 and its Spanish-language version, "Genio Atrapado," helped Aguilera become a rare crossover success from the pop mainstream to the Latino market. Her first album, Christina Aguilera, was also an immediate hit and eventually sold over eight million copies in the United States alone. Capping off an astounding debut, Aguilera took home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1999, beating out competition that included her former Mickey Mouse Club cast mate Britney Spears.

Christina Maria Aguilera was born on December 18, 1980 in Staten Island, New York. Her father, Fausto Aguilera, was born in Ecuador but had immigrated to the United States and pursued a career in the military. Her mother, the former Shelley Fidler, was a talented violinist who toured with the Youth Symphony Orchestra as a teenager. During her early years, the Aguilera family followed her father's assignments to Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and Japan. After having another daughter, Rachel, the Aguileras separated around 1986. The following year, Shelley Aguilera moved with her daughters back to her hometown of Wexford, a suburb northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After her mother remarried, Aguilera's family included siblings Casey, Robert Michael, and Stephanie. For several years after the divorce, Aguilera had very little contact with her father.

While growing up in Wexford, Aguilera began entering talent contests; with a voice that was unusually mature for her age, she usually won first prize. In 1988 she entered a regional talent audition for the syndicated show hosted by Ed McMahon, Star Search. Aguilera made it through the audition with a rendition of "The Greatest Love of All," which she performed on the show. Although she failed to win in her appearance on Star Search, the experience helped Aguilera build confidence in her performing abilities. For the next couple of years she was a regular performer of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before games of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.

At a Glance . . .


Born Christina Maria Aguilera on December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York; daughter of Fausto and Shelley Aguilera.


Career: Recording artist: "Reflection" (single), 1998; Christina Aguilera, (album), 1999; Mi Reflejo, (album), 2000; My Kind of Christmas (album), 2000; "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely," (single, with Ricky Martin), 2001; "Lady Marmalade" (single, with Missy Elliot, Mya, Pink, and Lil' Kim), 2001.


Awards: Grammy Award, Best New Artist, 1999; Recording Industry Association of America, Platinum Single, "Genie in a Bottle," 1999; Recording Industry Association of America, Gold Single, "Come on Over Baby," 2000; Recording Industry Association of America, Gold Single, "What a Girl Wants," 2000; Latin Grammy Award, Best Female Pop Vocal Album, Mi Reflejo, 2000; Recording Industry Association of America, Eight Times Multi-Platinum Album, Christina Aguilera, 2000; Recording Industry Association of America, Gold Album, Recording Industry Association of America, Platinum Album, My Kind of Christmas, 2000; Recording Industry Association of America, Three Times Multi-Platinum Album, Mi Reflejo, 2001; Grammy Award, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, "Lady Marmalade," 2002.


Addresses: Record company RCA Records, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036. Official fan club P.O. Box 1396, Wexford, PA 15090-1396.


Aguilera's next big break came in 1990 when auditions for the cast of The New Mickey Mouse Club were announced. The show was a popular series on the Disney Network and included such future adult stars as Kerri Russell and Britney Spears, as well as Justin Timberlake and J. C. Chasez of N'Sync. In her initial audition, producers of the show judged Aguilera to be too young for the series; two years later, however, they called her to join the cast. Aguilera traveled to Orlando, Florida, with her mother to join the cast during her summer break from school in 1993. She returned the following year to complete what turned out to be the final year of The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1994.

While her two years on The New Mickey Mouse Club provided Aguilera with invaluable acting, dancing, and singing experience, it caused turmoil when she returned to school. After a number of incidents spurred on by classmates jealous of her new fame, Aguilera was forced to transfer to a new junior high school in Pittsburgh. She experienced similar problems during high school and was relieved when she was able to complete her secondary education with a tutor while recording her debut album, Christina Aguilera, in 1998.

After her stint on The New Mickey Mouse Club, Aguilera's agent secured an unusual opportunity for the young singer. Keizo Nakanishi, a Japanese singer, was looking for a duet partner to sing on his release "All I Wanna Do." After submitting an audition tape, Aguilera was chosen for the assignment. She recorded her part of the song in a Pittsburgh studio; it was then mixed in with the final recording. The making of the video brought Aguilera to Japan, and she subsequently joined Nakanishi on tour to perform their song in concert. After returning to the United States in 1997, Aguilera worked on a demo tape to help her find a recording contract. Her Disney ties came in handy when the producers of the soundtrack for the studio's Mulan were looking for someone to record a pop version of the film's key song, "Reflection." Aguilera got the job and a recording contract with RCA records in early 1998.

Released as a single in the summer of 1998, "Reflection" became a modest hit on the adult contemporary chart. After completing some promotional appearances for the song, Aguilera entered a Los Angeles recording studio to make her debut album, Christina Aguilera. With a team of veteran songwriters and producers behind it, the album was a sophisticated yet accessible collection of songs that highlighted the power and range of Aguilera's voice. The first single from the album, "Genie in a Bottle," was released in the summer of 1999 and quickly went to number one, selling over two million copies in the process. The album itself debuted at number one on the Billboard chart and eventually sold over eight million copies, another remarkable feat for a new act. Two other singles from the album, "What a Girl Wants" and "Come on Over Baby," also hit the top of the charts in 2000.

Like teen singer Britney Spears, Aguilera endured some criticism as her records sold in the millions. While reviewers acknowledged her impressive vocal abilitiesespecially in comparison to Spearsimages of the sexually provocative teenagers made others question the appropriateness of their videos. The protests peaked around Aguilera's appearance in the video for the 'Lady Marmalade' track for the movie Moulin Rouge in 2001. Aguilera countered the criticism head on; as she told Allure in a May of 2002 interview, "Everybody said, 'Don't do "Lady Marmalade," it's too urban for you!' But I wanted to do it. The girls [Pink, Lil' Kim, Mya, and Missy Elliott] were great to work withit was like, 'Let's play dress-up for a day!' If you're doing a video for a movie like Moulin Rouge I mean, it's about a whorehouseyou have to get up there in some fun costumes. I love taking chances."

At the 1999 Grammy Awards Aguilera pulled an upset win over Britney Spears to claim the award for Best New Artist. Her album had only been out a few months at the time of the award, and most expected Spears to walk away with the Grammy. Aguilera herself appeared shocked at getting such recognition just months after her album's release. The following year she claimed her second Grammy Awardthis time from the Latin Recording Academyfor her Spanish-language release, Mi Reflejo. Although she had to record the album phonetically because she did not speak Spanish, Aguilera looked at the experience as a chance to reconnect with her father's side of the family. The album was a major success and sold over three million copies in the year after its 2000 release. That year Aguilera released another platinum-selling album, My Kind of Christmas, a collection of holiday standards.


After touring with the Lilith Fair and as the opening act for TLC in 1999, Aguilera headlined her own tour with opening act Destiny's Child in 2000. She went back into the recording studio late that year to record a duet with Ricky Martin, "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely." Aguilera's attorneys were also making court appearances on her behalf to prevent the release of demo recordings that she had made several years earlier. Her court battle was unsuccessful, and Warlock Records released "Just Be Free" in 2001 over Aguilera's objections.

Aguilera won her third Grammy Award at the 2002 ceremonies for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Lady Marmalade." In early 2002 she also put the final touches on her second album of original material with help of producer Linda Perry. Aguilera told Time in a special fall of 2001 edition that the album would be much more emotional and aggressive than her first. "For me, in my heart, I have to move away from [teen pop]," she said. "Even if the label said I had to make another record like that, I don't think I could. Getting older, you just don't want to sing fluffy. You just have more things to say about real life and real people and the bitterness that you get from people."


Selected discography

Christina Aguilera, RCA Records, 1999.

Mi Reflejo, RCA Records, 2000.

My Kind of Christmas, RCA Records, 2000.

Just Be Free, Warlock Records, 2001.


Sources

Books


Golden, Anna Louise, Christina Aguilera: An Unauthorized Biography, St. Martin's Press, 2000.

MacDermot, Molly, Christina Aguilera: The Unofficial Book, Billboard Books, 2000.


Periodicals


Allure, May 2002.

Billboard, January 20, 2001.

Time, March 6, 2000, p. 70.

Time Special Issue, Fall 2001, p. 42.

Variety, October 23, 2000, p. 62.


On-line


Christina Aguilera Official Artist Website, 2002, http://www.christina-a.com/bio.html

Recording Industry Association of America Website, 2002, http://www.riaa.com

Timothy Borden

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Aguilera, Christina

CHRISTINA AGUILERA


Born: Christina Maria Aguilera; Staten Island, New York, 18 December 1980

Genre: R&B, Pop, Latin, Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Christina Aguilera (1999)

Hit songs since 1990: "Genie in a Bottle," "What a Girl Wants"


After becoming one of the most popular teen pop singers of the late 1990s, Christina Aguilera sought to break out of the squeaky-clean image and sound that she had helped popularize along with the teen queen Britney Spears. With a strong, expressive voice that set her apart from other carefully packaged pop acts, the singer underwent a public image makeover that saw her reemerge as a streetwise, salacious sex bomb.




Born in New York to parents of Irish and Ecuadorian descent, Aguilera endured a peripatetic childhood because of her father's military career. When the family landed in Philadelphia, Aguilera began her performing career by appearing in local talent shows at age six. The minidiva graduated to a losing appearance on the televised talent show Star Search in 1988, later joining the cast of the Disney Channel's The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1992; the cast featured Spears as well as Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez, future members of the boy band *NSYNC.

In 1994 Aguilera moved to Japan, recording a duet, "All I Wanna Do," with Japanese pop star Keizo Nakanishi. She returned to the United States in 1998 to record the song "Reflection" for the Disney animated film Mulan. The song helped secure a recording contract with RCA, which issued Aguilera's self-titled debut in the summer of 1999.

Released seven months after Spears's debut, Christina Aguilera hewed closely to the pop formula employed by the singer's fellow Mickey Mouse Club alum: saccharine ballads mixed with catchy pop and slickly produced rhythm and blues songs. With a stable of some of the music industry's most able songwriters behind her, Aguilera was able to concentrate on her vocals, which climbed to Whitney Houstonlike pop gospel heights on tracks such as "I Turn to You."

The album spawned the instantly hummable, number one hit "Genie in a Bottle," a slinky dance-pop confection on which the squeaky-clean, blonde-haired teenager sings the controversial lines, "If you want to be with me, baby there's a price to pay / I'm a genie in a bottle / You gotta rub me the right way." Despite its smash number one charting success, the song's burbling keyboards and generic electronic drumbeats did little to distinguish Aguilera from her peers. The album also spawned the hits "What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)." Aguilera took home a Grammy in 2000 for Best New Artist.

Hopping onto another trend of the moment, Aguilera released a Spanish-language album in September 2000. Though half-Ecuadorian, Aguilera did not speak Spanish, which required that she learn how to sing the album's songs phonetically. A combination of Spanish versions of her hits ("Genio Atrapado") and new tracks, the album was quickly followed by the Christmas offering, My Kind of Christmas. The holiday album mixes renditions of traditional Christmas tunes such as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with a handful of songs written by Aguilera.


A Controversial Career Makeover

An unsanctioned album of demos recorded by Aguilera when she was fourteen and fifteen, Just Be Free, was released to the singer's chagrin in June 2001. After a short period out of the spotlight, Aguilera emerged as part of a female supergroup to cover Patti Labelle's disco hit "Lady Marmalade" for the Moulin Rouge movie soundtrack. Dressed in lingerie, a large gold nose ring, and thick makeup, Aguilera took her place alongside singers Pink and Mya and rapper Lil' Kim in the video for the song, which became one of the biggest hits of 2001 and won a Grammy in 2002 for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. The new look was the beginning of a makeover for the singer, who seemed desperate to break out of her girl-next-door image and distance herself from other pop-divas-in-the-making such as Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore.

Just three years after bursting onto the scene, a barely recognizable Aguilera emerged in 2002 with Stripped, a collection of intensely personal songs co-written and co-produced by the singer. Along with the album's cover, which features a topless Aguilera in low-slung pants with only her hair covering her breasts, the video for the album's first single, "Dirrty," made it clear that this was a new Aguilera. Joined by rapper Redman in the clip for the lascivious, high-energy R&B dance song, a barely clothed, heavily pierced and dreadlocked Aguileranow preferring the name X-Tinashimmies amid a panoply of gritty and bizarre characters, from masked female boxers and bodybuilders to mudwrestlers and fire-eaters.

Heavily influenced by rap and rock music, Stripped is full of defiant lyrics in which Aguilera derides her glossy pop image and strikes out at ex-lovers and an abusive father while painting a portrait of the complex, conflicted woman behind the hype. Showcasing her more mature, wider range, Aguilera shines on the album's sweeping ballads, including the smoky, jazzy "Walk Away," in which she sings "I was naïve, your love was like candy / Artificially sweet, I was deceived by the wrapping / Got caught in your web and I learned how to bleed / I was prey in our bed and devoured completely."

Though a critical and commercial backlash greeted the perhaps too-transgressive "Dirrty," Aguilera accomplished the rarest of feats for a teen pop act: a second act. Successfully breaking out of and remaking her manufactured image, Aguilera's powerful voice and emerging songwriting style showed promise for the former Mouseketeer's career prospects.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Christina Aguilera (RCA, 1999); Mi Reflejo (RCA, 2000); My Kind of Christmas (RCA, 2000); Stripped (RCA, 2002).

gil kaufman

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Aguilera, Christina

Christina Aguilera

Pop singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Teenage singing sensation Christina Aguilera emotes sophistication and poise, self-assurance and grace as she sings and swings her way through the lyrics of popular songs. Yet her image as an American teen idol conceals the true identity of a precocious and introspective woman on the brink of self-discovery. She spent her adolescence as a girl-next-door, song-and-dance performer, incessantly pleasing a media-crazed public, and by the age of 19 stood poised to grasp at the legitimacy of an adult-oriented performer.

Aguilera is the oldest child of Shelly and Fausto Aguilera. She was born in 1980 on Staten Island in New York. Her father, an Ecuadorian-born sergeant in the United States Army, kept his family on the move during her early childhood. Aguilera was home-schooled as the family spent their time in Texas and New Jersey and lived overseas in Japan. Her mother, a musician, played both violin and piano, thus Aguil-eras own love of music was nurtured at an early age. Her passion soon turned to her salvation as her father experienced emotional difficulties and developed a bent for physical violence and verbal abuse against his family.

Aguilera learned very quickly to find an escape from her dismal home life by focusing on music. Rodger and Hammersteins Sound of Music became a childhood favorite. She enjoyed listening to the title song and singing it as well, and the film became a continually uplifting experience for the young musician. When she was six years old, her parents parted ways. The separation developed into a difficult divorce, and Aguilera lived with her mother and younger sister in Wexford, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, for the next eight years. When the promising young diva was 14, her mother remarried to paramedic Jim Kearns; overnight, Aguilera and her sister inherited a new sibling, a stepbrother named Casey. Not long afterward a new baby brother joined the family.

Aguileras first hit recording appeared on the music charts when she was 18 years old, although her career as a professional performer dated back to elementary school. She was an entertaining singer even as a small child, and by the age of six she was performing for relatives. She exhibited an unusual style, sophistication, and poise for her years, and by the age of eight some saw her as a prodigy. She appeared on televisions Star Search talent contest, but failed to win, and although she fought back tears, she congratulated the singer who bested her. The loss never hindered Aguileras career, and by age ten she was singing the national anthem at major league sports attractions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was 12 when she auditioned successfully for a spot as a mouseketeer on the New Mickey Mouse Club program in Orlando, Florida. The show, a reprise of Walt Disneys original 1950s show, was the spawning ground for a generation of

For the Record

Born in 1980 in Staten Island, NY; daughter of Shelly and Fuasto Aguilera.

Performed with the New Mickey Mouse Club, 1993; toured and signed with RCA Records, 1998; released self-titled debut album, 1999; released Spanish-language album Mi Reflejo, 2000.

Awards: Grammy Award, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, best new artist, 1999; ALMA Award, best new artist, 2000.

Address: Record company RCA Records, c/o BMG Entertainment, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.

new bubble gum pop singers, including Britney Spears, J. C. Chasez of N Sync, and others. The Disney show continued for two years, after which Aguileras career took her to venues around the world, including Tokyo, Japan, and Brasov, Romania.

Although she was already a veteran entertainer, her true big break came in 1998 when she auditioned successfully to sing the song Reflections in the Disney animated movie, Muían. Aguilera won the audition because of her exceptional range. With her powerful voice and her bent for clear vibrato, the tiny (5-feet-2-inches tall) blond singer hit the songs high E with ease, and Reflections became a hit tune, rising to number 15 on the single chart. RCA record executives signed Aguilera to a recording contract.

Aguilera taped her first full-length album for release in 1999. She spent 45 days on tour to promote the albums single release, Genie in a Bottle, which soared to number one on the pop charts. The hit single spurred album sales, and the full-length CD climbed the record charts, leaving Aguilera with no time to look back as her career jumped into high gear. The release of a second single from the album, What a Girl Wants, early in 2000, was a type of déjà vu, as that record also became a major hit and sent the album into platinum sales. By mid-year 2000, the album had logged more than ten million sales worldwide, and Genie in a Bottle became a hit video as well.

For the Christmas holiday in 1999, RCA released Aguileras Christmas Song album featuring Etta James and a complete 70-piece orchestra backing the two on the recording. Also in 1999 Aguilera received an invitation to appear in Christmas at the White House, a Turner Network television special, with President Bill Clinton. Clinton enjoyed Aguileras performance and invited her to appear again in the millennium special, also televised from Washington, D.C. Appearances by Aguilera were in such high demand that she was forced to decline the millennium invitation in Washington, in order to honor a previous commitment to appear in an MTV music special from New York for the traditional New Years Eve celebration in Times Square. Also, Ladies Home Journal featured Aguilera in a New Year retrospective of the most fascinating women of 1999, which was televised on the CBS-TV network.

Aguilera, her celebrity on the rise, appeared at the National Football Leagues Super Bowl in January of 2000. She headlined the half-time gala along with popular singer Enrique Iglesias. The following month she received two Grammy Award nominations, not only for the best female pop vocal performance of 1999, but also for the best new artist of the year. She admitted to her astonishment in winning the Grammyfrom the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciencesfor Best New Artist. Her adolescent appeal combined with a mature talent earned her immense popularity, and she was inundated with offers for magazine interviews, to appear on talk shows, and for assorted performance appearances. With attractive blue eyes and a petite figure, Aguilera adorned magazine covers including Teen People, Latina, and Entertainment Weekly.

By age 19, her resume of appearances bridged all generations, as she boasted appearances on Good Morning America, The Donnie and Marie Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Rosie ODonnell Show. She sang on Saturday Night Live, and she held the distinction of making the only appearance by a woman on Men Strike Back, a VH-1 response to the cable channels popular diva telecasts that featured the most popular female singers. She was a featured performer and personality on numerous award shows, including the World Music Awards and the Essence Awards. At the ASCAP Pop Awards, she introduced her version of At Last, a classic done previously by Etta James, for whom Aguilera expressed great admiration. Aguilera was in demand for television specials such as Disney Summer Jams. She spent the summer of 2000 as the star of a Sears and Levis present Christina Aguilera tour, performing 50 shows from July 31 through September 25.

Aguilera has maintained a strong identity with her Ecuadorian family background and developed an enormous following among Latino teenagers. Early in 2000 she recorded a Spanish-language album, and managed adeptly to overcome her lack of fluency in the language. It had been her wish to record a Spanish-language album even before her first English-language release, and the album included Spanish versions of several of her original English-language hits. She had spoken Spanish as a child, and she studied the language even as she began work on the full-length album, scheduled for release that fall. Her diction, according to critics, was excellent on the Spanish recording, and she continued to study the language even after recording the album. The albums title song, Mi Reflejo, is a Spanish version of Aguileras 1998 Disney hit, Reflections, and her single release, Genio Atrapado, is a Spanish-language version of her English-language hit, Genie in a Bottle.

Leila Cobo of Billboard praised the album, predicting that Aguileras style might generate a new type of Latino musica modern genre, with rhythm and blues tones. David Gleason of the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation also predicted a prominent posture for Aguilera as a unique new Latina star, singing rhythm and blues instead of salsa. In the Spanish-speaking marketplace, according to Aguileras producer, her following registered higher than 70 percent of the anticipated audience market. She continued to travel with a Spanish tutor among her entourage, for ongoing improvement, and scheduled her second Spanish-language album for taping early in 2001 and for release in 2002. During the interim, she planned both a Christmas television special and a Christmas album with at least one Spanish-language song.

Aguilera, according to interviewers, is a complex young woman who is highly intelligent, introspective, and self-reliant. For the adolescent Aguilera, her precocious celebrity was a source of frustration as much as it was exciting for her. In typical teen-age fashion, she was drawn to rebel and to experiment with taboos from the dark side of life and society. In short she felt a need to be bad. She nonetheless succeeded admirably in heeding her own sensibilities, and she never lost sight of her obligations as a role model for her youthful fans. Aguilera is self-admittedly a perpetual dreamerintrigued by her night dreams as well as her daydreamsand she expends considerable energy in recalling and analyzing her sleep dreams, recalling the details incessantly and speculating on the significance of every occurrence.

Despite sensational innuendoes and rumors of romantic trysts, which frequently are devised by over-imaginative publicity crews, Aguileras life remained relatively uncomplicated as she exited her teens. In 2000 she vacated her house in the upper West Side of Manhattan in favor of an apartment in Southern California.

Selected discography

Singles

Reflections, RCA, 1998.

Genie in a Bottle, RCA, 1999.

What a Girl Wants, RCA, 2000.

Genio Atrapado, RCA, 2000.

Albums

Christina Aguilera, RCA, 1999.

Christmas Song (with Etta James), RCA, 1999.

Mi Reflejo, BMG U.S. Latin/RCA, 2000.

Sources

Billboard, August 12, 2000, p. 13.

Rolling Stone, October 28, 1999, p. 93 (4); June 6-20, 2000, p. 82 (4).

Gloria Cooksey

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