Christina María Aguilera (born December 18, 1980) is an American pop singer and songwriter. Aguilera first appeared on national television in 1990 as a contestant on the Star Search program, and went on to star in Disney Channel's television series The New Mickey Mouse Club from 1993–1994. Aguilera signed to RCA Records after recording "Reflection" for the film Mulan. She came to prominence following her debut album Christina Aguilera (1999), which was a commercial success spawning three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. A Latin pop album, Mi Reflejo (2001), and several collaborations followed which garnered Aguilera worldwide success but she was displeased with her lack of input in her music and image.
After parting from her management, Aguilera took creative control over her second studio album Stripped (2002), which received mixed reviews and produced substantial sales. The second single, "Beautiful", was a commercial success and sustained the album's sales amidst controversy over Aguilera's sexual image.Aguilera's third studio album Back to Basics (2006), included elements of soul, jazz, and blues music, and was released to positive critical reception Her fourth studio album is tentatively set for release in November 2009.Aside from being known for her vocal ability, music videos and ever-changing image, musically, she includes themes of dealing with public scrutiny, her childhood, and female empowerment in her musicApart from her work in music, she has also dedicated much of her time as a philanthropist for charities, human rights and world issues. Aguilera's work has earned her numerous awards, including four Grammy Awards and one Latin Grammy Award, amongst eighteen nominations. She has become one of the most successful recording artists of the decade, selling more than 42 million albums worldwideAguilera was born in Staten Island, New York, to Fausto Wagner Xavier Aguilera, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army at the time and Shelly Loraine Fidler, a teacher of the Spanish language. Aguilera's father was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador (Christina's maternal grandmother emigrated from County Clare, Ireland.) Her father, Fausto, was stationed at Earnest Harmon Air Force Base in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada and Japan. Aguilera lived with her father and mother until she was seven years old. Aguilera grew up hearing Spanish and thus understands the language, although she is more fluent in English. When Aguilera's parents divorced, her mother took her, and her younger sister Rachel, to her grandmother's home in Rochester, Pennsylvania, a suburb outside of Pittsburgh. According to both Aguilera and Fidler, her father was very controlling, as well as physically and emotionally abusive. She later wrote about her difficult childhood in the songs "I'm OK" in Stripped, and "Oh Mother" in Back to Basics. Although her father has written to Aguilera, she has ruled out any chance of reuniting with him. Since then, Fidler has married a paramedic named Jim Kearns, and changed her name.
As a child, Aguilera aspired to be a singer. She was known locally as "the little girl with the big voice", singing in local talent shows and competitions. According to VH1's Driven, whenever competitors learned they would be up against her in any given week, they would immediately withdraw, prompting insiders to claim it was "like sending a lamb to the slaughter." Her peers soon became jealous of her and would frequently subject her to ridicule, ostracism, and, in one gym class, attempted assault. Acts of vandalism around her house included the slashing of the tires on the family car. Eventually, the family relocated to another suburb in the Pittsburgh area (this time, Wexford) and took to secrecy about Aguilera's talent lest another backlash occur. She attended Marshall Middle School near Wexford and North Allegheny Intermediate High School until she was later home-schooled.
On March 15, 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing "A Sunday Kind of Love", but lost the competition at number 2. Soon after losing on Star Search, she returned home and appeared on Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV's Wake Up with Larry Richert to perform the same song. People remarked that the then ten-year-old "sounded 20."
Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, Pittsburgh Steelers football and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games. Her first major role in entertainment came in 1993 when she joined the Disney Channel's variety show The New Mickey Mouse Club. Her co-stars included Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell, the show lasted another year until its cancellation. According to the documentary Driven, Aguilera's co-stars called her "the Diva". One of her most notable performances was of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing".
At the age of fourteen, Aguilera recorded her first song, "All I Wanna Do", a hit duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. In 1997, she represented the United States at the "Golden Stag" International Festival with a two-song set.
1998–2001: Pop music beginnings and Christina Aguilera
In 1998, Aguilera sang the High "E" in full voice (and again on the song "Candyman" from her Back To Basics album for a full 8 seconds) (E5) on a cover of Whitney Houston's "Run to You" which she recorded with a tape recorder in her bathroom. She was then selected to record the song "Reflection" for the Disney production of Mulan (1998). Recording "Reflection" led to Aguilera earning a contract with RCA Records the same week. "Reflection" peaked within the top twenty on the Adult Contemporary Singles Chart, and it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Song" in 1998. Under the exclusive representation of Steve Kurtz, Aguilera's self-titled debut album Christina Aguilera was released on August 24, 1999. It reached the top of the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts, selling eight million copies in the U.S and over twelve million copies worldwide. The album is also included in the Top 100 Albums of All Time list of The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) based on US sales.
Aguilera during the promotion of her debut album in April 2000.
Her singles "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants" and "Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" topped the Billboard Hot 100 during 1999 and 2000, and "I Turn to You" reached #3. According to the album's songwriters, Aguilera wanted to display the range and audacity in her voice during the promotion of the album, and performed acoustic sets and appeared on television shows accompanied only by a piano. She ended the year on MTV's New Year's Special, as she performed and was MTV's first artist of the millennium. At the 2000 Grammys Aguilera received a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance nomination for "Genie in a Bottle" and despite earlier predictions, she won the award for Best New Artist.Aguilera's manager Kurtz told MTV that Christina was talking about recording a Spanish-language album even before she recorded her debut album. In 2000 Aguilera started recording with producer Rudy Pérez in Miami. Later in 2000, Aguilera, first emphasized her Latin heritage by releasing her first Spanish album, Mi Reflejo on September 12, 2000. This album contained Spanish versions of songs from her English debut as well as new Spanish tracks. Though some criticized Aguilera for trying to cash in on the Latin music boom at the time. According to Pérez, Aguilera was only semi-fluent, while recording. She understood the language, because she has grown up with her father, who is a native of Ecuador. He added "Her Latin roots are undeniable". The album still managed to peak at #27 on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Latin album charts. In 2001, it won Aguilera a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. The album went Gold in the US. She also won the World Music Award as the best selling Latin artist that year.
Aguilera also released a Christmas album on October 24, 2000 called My Kind of Christmas. It peaked at #28 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified Platinum in the US. Ricky Martin asked Aguilera to duet with him on the track "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely" from his album Sound Loaded; released in 2001 as the album's second single. The single reached number one on the World Chart.
In 2001, Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink were chosen to remake Labelle's 1975 single "Lady Marmalade" for the film Moulin Rouge! and its soundtrack. The single Missy Elliott produced hit number one on the Hot 100 for five weeks and was the most successful airplay-only single in history. It also reached number one in eleven other countries amd earned all four performers a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Aguilera's appearance in the music video was compared to that of Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. The video won two MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year in 2001, where Aguilera accepted the award saying, "I guess the big hair paid off."That year a single emerged into record stores called "Just Be Free", one of the demos Aguilera recorded when she was around fifteen years old. When RCA Records discovered the single, they advised fans not to purchase it.Months later, Warlock Records was set to release Just Be Free, an album which contains the demo tracks. Aguilera filed a breach of contract and unfair competition suit against Warlock and the album's producers to block the release.Instead, the two parties came to a settlement to release the album. Aguilera lent out her name, likeness and image for an unspecified amount of damages. Many of the details of the lawsuit remain confidential. When the album was released in August 2001, it had a photograph of Aguilera when she was fifteen years old.
Although Aguilera's debut album was very well received, she was dissatisfied with the music and image her management had created for her. Aguilera was marketed as a bubblegum pop singer because of the genre's upward financial trend.She mentioned plans of her next album to have much more depth, both musically and lyrically. Aguilera's views of Steve Kurtz's influence in matters of the singer's creative direction, the role of being her exclusive personal manager and overscheduling had in part caused her to seek legal means of terminating their management contract. She revealed while recording her then upcoming album, "I was being overworked. You find out that someone you thought was a friend is stealing money behind your back, and it's heartbreaking. I put faith in the people around me, and unfortunately, it bit me in the butt." Kurtz was terminated and Irving Azoff was hired as her new manager.
2002–2003: Stripped era
On September 2001, Aguilera began recording the album of new material that has the title of stripped. On October 29, 2002, after much delay, Aguilera's second full-length English album, Stripped, was released, selling more than 330,000 copies in the first week and peaking at #2 on the Billboard 200. Unlike previous work, the album showcased Aguilera's raunchier side.The majority of Stripped was co-written by Aguilera (who had recently signed a global music publishing contract with BMG Music Publishing), and was influenced by many different subjects and music styles, including contemporary R&B, gospel, soul, balladry, pop rock, and hip hop. The majority of the album was produced by Scott Storch and singer-songwriter Linda Perry who produced her more personal records. Rockwilder and singer Alicia Keys also contributed a track each.Upon initial release, the album was very well-received by critics, although Aguilera's vocals were overlooked as she began to cultivate a more sexually provocative image After the release of the album, she took part in photoshoots for magazines, many of these photographs featured her nude or semi-nude. Her cover for Rolling Stone,featured the singer only wearing boots and a well-placed electric guitar. It was during this time Aguilera referred to herself as "Xtina", even getting a tattoo of her nickname on the back of her neck and several piercings.
Initially, the raunchy image had a negative effect on Aguilera in the U.S., especially after the release of her controversial "Dirrty" music video. She denied that this change was a matter of publicity, claiming that the image better reflected her true personality than did the image she cultivated back in 1999. While the video for "Dirrty" became very popular on MTV, it disappointed on the U.S. singles chart. However, the single was a hit worldwide, reaching number one in the UK and Ireland. The second single, "Beautiful" received critical praise. The classically influenced ballad reached number one in several countries and peaked at #2 in the US. "Beautiful" earned Aguilera the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Three more singles ("Fighter", "Can't Hold Us Down" featuring Lil' Kim, "The Voice Within") were released in the following two years and were hits that helped the album stay on the charts for the next two years. Stripped stayed on the U.S. and UK album charts well into 2004, and went on to be certified four-times platinum in the U.S. with over nine million copies sold worldwide. It appeared at number ten on Billboard's year-end album chart. Kelly Clarkson's second single "Miss Independent" was co-written by Aguilera, having been half-finished for Stripped.
Aguilera performing in her Stripped Tour.
Aguilera joined Justin Timberlake that June on the final leg of his international Justified tour, held in the U.S. This portion of the tour became a co-headliner called the "Justified & Stripped Tour". In August, an overhead lighting grid collapsed from the ceiling of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, causing major damage to the sound and video equipment below. Because the collapse occurred hours before the show, only a few stagehands were injured, but a few shows were cancelled or postponed. In the fourth quarter of that year, Aguilera continued to tour internationally without Timberlake, and changed the name of the tour to the "Stripped World Tour". She also dyed her hair black. It was one of the top-grossing tours of that year, and sold out most of its venues. Rolling Stone readers named it the best tour of the year. She was a special guest performer with the Pussycat Dolls' dance troupe and appeared on a Maxim spread alongside them. Her second Maxim cover that year set record sales for the issue, by the end of the year she topped the annual Hot 100 list later saying, "We had fun working with certain clothes, or the lack thereof." After much delay, Aguilera's first DVD live-recording from a concert tour, Stripped Live in the UK, was released in November 2004.
In light of the tour's success, another U.S. tour was scheduled to begin in mid-2004 with a new theme. The tour however was scrapped because of the vocal cord injuries Aguilera suffered shortly before the tour's opening date. In a tribute to Madonna's performance at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards, Aguilera performed a kiss with the singer-actress at the 2003 edition of the ceremony in August. The incident occurred during the opening performance of Madonna's songs "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood" with fellow popstar Britney Spears.