Born Britney Jean Spears, December 2, 1981, in Kentwood, LA; daughter of Jamie (a building contractor) and Lynn (a schoolteacher) Spears; married Brian Federline, 2004; children: Sean Preston Federline. Education: Off-Broadway Dance Center, New York City; Professional Performing Arts School Addresses: Record company--BMG Entertainment International, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
Britney Spears was barely 16 years old when her first album, Baby One More Time, appeared at number one on album charts in 1999. Simultaneously, the album's title song also debuted at number one on the singles charts. A former Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club, with bright-eyes and wavy blond hair, she came to symbolize the peppiest and perkiest of the shifting currents of the popular music culture at the threshold of the twenty-first century. Spears reflected an image in direct contradiction to the trends of the times; she posed instead a wholesome and non-threatening image to counteract the sinister gangsta' rap and sullen gothic subcultures that permeated the recording industry in the 1990s. Her innocent appeal extended beyond the teenage throngs that traditionally controlled the realm of popular music. Young girls emulated her appearance, and young boys harbored secret crushes, while parents nodded approvingly. Spears's name became a household word, and she earned more than $1 million by the age of 17. Her popularity soared to such heights that a contingency of her fans reportedly camped outside in the wintry January weather of Charleston, Virginia, for days in order to get tickets for one of her concerts.
Spears was born in 1982 in the small town of Kentwood, not far from New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the second of three children--and the oldest daughter--of Jamie Spears, a building contractor; and Lynne Spears, a second-grade teacher. Spears was a mere toddler, two years of age, when she first tried to sing. She mimicked popular crooners such as Whitney Houston and even donned makeup to complete the fantasy. As soon as she was able, Spears, who was raised a Baptist, sang with church choirs. Additionally, she danced and performed in talent showcases.
Spears was eight years old when she first auditioned to be a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club show, a reprise of the original Mickey Mouse Clubprogram from the 1950s. The producers, impressed with the talented youngster, referred Spears instead to the Professional Performing Arts School and the Off-Broadway Dance Center in New York City, because she was too young to conform to the format of the Disney show. With assistance and support from her family, the budding superstar availed herself of the opportunity to develop her talent. In 1991, at age nine, she moved along with her mother and younger sister to New York City. There Spears enrolled at the professional school, and before long, she began performing in live theater presentations and in television commercials. Later, in 1992, she returned to Disney studios to audition a second time for the Mickey Mouse Club.Spears by then was eleven years old and a show business veteran, and she easily secured a position as one of the Mouseketeers.
Spears performed with the Mouseketeers for two years, during which time she worked with another soon-to-be diva, Christina Aguilera, as well as with Keri Russell (television's Felicity), and `N Sync's JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake. Following the cancellation of Mickey Mouse Club, her friendship with Chasez and Timberlake led to a meeting between Spears and `N Sync manager Johnny Wright, an acquaintance that set her on the path to superstardom. Subsequently she moved into a regular spot as the opening act for `N Sync. She developed a huge following of fans in very little time and distinguished herself quickly as a solo act on her own merits, which led her mother to send a demonstration tape to the New York-based manager Larry Rudolph. Rudolph, an entertainment lawyer, secured a contract with Jive Records for the 15-year-old Spears, and in 1999 Jive released Spears's first album along with a single release of the CD's title song, " Baby One More Time."
Phenomenally, both the album and the single debuted on the music charts at number one. Spears became an overnight sensation. Her first album went "diamond" and sold 8.4 million copies by the end of the calendar year to rate as the second highest selling album that year. Early in 2000 she won the American Music Award for favorite new pop-rock artist. Additionally, she received two Grammy Award nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for her debut album, which by then had sold more than ten million copies.
When a dislocated knee limited her movement and kept her from the dance floor in 1999, Spears bounced back seemingly without missing a beat. Although she canceled her scheduled appearance at the American Music Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, wherein she was to perform a routine combining her three hit songs " Baby One More Time," "(You Drive Me) Crazy," and "Sometimes," she performed ably at the Grammy Award ceremonies in 2000.
Spears admittedly takes criticism from reviewers because of her spun-sugar-candy adolescent image. Regardless, her popularity on the record charts is proof of her talent. Her name, according to Searchterms.Com, is among the most frequently searched keywords on the Internet. The various Britney Spears Internet sites rank among the top ten of the most commonly sought locations on the World Wide Web. Her Internet appeal was so high that with her mother's assistance, Spears undertook the construction of her own personal website. The site includes pictures of Spears--for which she wrote clever captions--videos, and fan photos taken at her concerts and other personal appearances. Also online, Spears participated in chats with the Disney Corporation and with America Online.
Spears's appearances in the number one slot of the Billboard charts keep her consistently in the public spotlight. Her music video, "Time Out With Britney Spears," rose to number one on Billboard's music video sales for January 13, 2000, with her second album scheduled for release in May of 2000. Her hectic performance schedule for the first year of the millennium included an appearance at the Baltimore Arena in March, and at Miami, Florida's American Airlines Arena. Spears has also contracted to appear at Boston's Tweeter Center, Chicago's New World Music Theatre, Houston's Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, and the Hollywood Bowl and the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. Additionally, she aspires to act and appeared in a guest role on television's Touched by an Angel.
Even in the midst of her superstardom, Spears remained focused on maintaining her sensibilities. At her family home in Louisiana, she retained responsibility for humdrum household chores, and in between her exotic touring commitments and her assignments as the celebrity model for designer Tommy Hilfiger, she continued her high school studies. Additionally, when school, chores, dance and recording sessions, and "Tommy" failed to usurp all of her time, Spears honored contracts to pose for posters and miscellaneous endorsements. As her career flourished, she transferred from her private high school in McComb, Mississippi to a home schooling program from the University of Nebraska, all the while retaining the "bubble-gum teeny-bopper" image that suited her lifestyle so adeptly. Indeed, Time called her first album "cuddly."
As with any popular ingenue, Spears's social life was a topic of great media interest. According to widespread reports, she established a pen pal correspondence with England's Prince William after meeting him and his family. The two "made a date" for Valentine's Day in 2000, it was reported further. To help fuel gossip, an agent revealed that Spears started house hunting in the Bohemian-style nineteenth-century community of Primrose Hill in north London, where her dream home might cost over $3 million. Her public relations contingency meanwhile persisted in reinforcing her youthful image with a host of innocent merchandise and other paraphernalia geared squarely at children of elementary age and younger. Among the Spears merchandise: a doll and a flashing Spears wristwatch.
In January of 2002, a Pepsi commercial featuring the singer debuted online at pepsi.yahoo.com two hours before its broadcast premiere in January of 2002. The marketing stunt elicited more than one million video streams in its first week. In May of that year, Pepsi aired a commercial for Pepsi Twist that featured Spears and Austin Powers (comedian Mike Myers) as part of a promotional campaign for the film Austin Powers in Goldmember. Spears also had a cameo in that film.
In February of 2002, Spears appeared in the film Crossroads, the story of three young women who embark on a cross-country trip of self-discovery. While critics did not think it was Academy Award-worthy, most thought it was decent film for preteens. Later that year, Spears appeared in the Play Station 2 videogame Britney's Dance Beat. The premise of the game was that Spears is holding tryouts for a backup dancer, and players competed for the spot through ten rounds of increasingly complicated routines.
Spears and boyfriend Justin Timberlake, after months of denying their relationship, finally admitted their feelings for each other. However, after dating for more than two years, they broke up in March of 2002. That year continued to be a time of personal troubles Spears. Her parents divorced after 30 years of marriage and she was caught smoking, which contrasted with her squeaky-clean image. However, her troubles did not prevent Spears from being named one of the 50 most beautiful people by People in 2002. Spears also topped the list of Forbes's most powerful celebrities in June of that year, beating other famous people such as golfer Tiger Woods, director Steven Spielberg, and singer Madonna. That same month, Spears signed with NASCAR to star in a feature film about auto racing; Britney Spears Productions was named as the production company for the film.
During Spears's 2002 concert tour, she faced criticism for her actions in Mexico. Shortly after arriving in a Mexico City-area airport on July 23, 2002, Spears was caught on film giving the middle finger; she claimed it was not aimed at local fans, but at the photographers. Later, on July 28, Spears bailed on her concert after five songs without giving an explanation.
After her tour wrapped, Spears announced she was going to take an indefinite hiatus from recording and performing. She relaxed at the new $4.5 million Tudor estate in Kentwood, Louisiana, she built for her mother and her own $1.7 million Spanish-style Hollywood Hills mansion. However, after just three months off, Spears was back at work on a new album. On November 4, 2002, she was honored with the Children's Choice Award for her charitable efforts, which included a namesake foundation, a performing arts camp to benefit sick and disadvantaged children, and the money she raised during her Dream Within A Dream tour for children affected by September 11. The book and DVD set, Stages, was released in November of 2002. It featured photos of Spears with her friends and family, as well as onstage and backstage glimpses that were snapped at various points on the road during the tour.
Spears' contract with Pepsi expired in 2002, but it was not renewed; instead, the beverage company signed singer Beyonce Knowles. Spears' business woes continued when, on December 23, 2002, she sued Skechers USA for $1.5 million, contending the footwear firm exploited her in international print ads, but failed to market Britney-branded skating accessories. The suit also contended that Skechers pulled out of an agreement to sponsor Spears's Dream Within A Dream tour. A lawyer for Skechers threatened a counter suit saying Spears would not accept any of the designs that Skechers offered.
Spears married her friend Jason Allen Alexander in Las Vegas on January 3, 2004. The marriage, widely regarded as a foolish stunt by the pair, was quickly annulled and officially ended two days later. In that same year, Spears signed on with cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden to develop her own line of perfume and makeup. In September of 2004, she went through her second wedding ceremony in one year when she married Kevin Federline in Studio City, California. She told Laura Morgan in Teen People, "I kissed a bunch of frogs and finally found my prince."
In December of 2004, Spears won the Billboard Music Award for Hot Dance Single of the Year. Her song "Toxic" won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording in February of 2005.
In September of 2005, Spears and Federline welcomed the birth of their son, Sean Preston. Spears told Jennifer Wulff in People, "We are ecstatic." She added, "Everyone is happy, healthy and doing wonderful." The couple were featured on a reality show that, as Spears told Laura Morgan in Teen People, "will show us falling in love...it's going to be an exciting ride."
by Gloria Cooksey
Britney Spears's Career
Singer, actor. Appeared in television commercials; stage appearances include Ruthless, 1991; television appearances include series The Mickey Mouse Club, 1993-94. Signed to Jive Records, 1997; released debut single, " Baby One More Time," 1998, and debut album of the same name, 1999; toured with Backstreet Boys, 1998; embarked on solo tour, June, 1999; released Oops!...I Did It Again, 2000; toured in Dream Within A Dream tour, 2001; released Britney, 2001; appeared in the film Crossroads, 2002; opened restaurant, Nyla, 2002; released In the Zone, 2003; released Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, 2004.
Britney Spears's Awards
American Music Award, favorite new pop-rock artist, 1999; Children's Choice Award, 2002; Billboard Music Award for Hot Dance Single of the Year, 2004; Grammy for Best Dance Recording, 2005 (for "Toxic")
- Selected discography
- " Baby One More Time," Jive, 1999.
- "Sometimes," Jive, 1999.
- "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart," Jive 2000.
- Baby One More Time , Jive, 1999.
- Oops!...I Did It Again , Jive, 2000.
- Britney Jive, 2001.
- In the Zone AMG, 2003.
- Greatest Hits: My Prerogative AMG, 2004.
January 31, 2006: Spears signed to appear in an episode of Will & Grace. Source: USA Today, www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2006-01-31-spears-will-grace_x.htm, February 1, 2006.
- Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Australia), January 19, 2000, p. 4.
- Daily Telegraph(Sydney, Australia), January 25, 2000, p. 34.
- Entertainment Weekly, September 17, 1999, p. 7; December 24, 1999, p. 28; January 14, 2000, p. 86.
- Newsweek, March 1, 1999, p.64.
- People, February 15, 1999, p. 71; May 10, 1999, p. 114; October 3, 2005, p. 68.
- Record, (Bergen County, NJ), January 4, 2000, p. A-2.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 15, 2000, p. 24.
- Sunday Telegraph, January 23, 2000.
- Teen, August 1999, p. 60-62.
- Teen People, June 1, 2005, p. 62.
- Time, December 28, 1998, p. 186; March 1, 1999, p. 71.
- Toronto Sun, January 14, 2000, p. 15; January 19, 2000, p. 49.
- "Britney Spears," AMG All Music Guide, wysiwyg://5/http://allmusic.com/cg/x.dll (February 4, 2000).
- Grammys.com, www.grammys.com/awards/grammy/47winners (February 14, 2005).