Born in 1980 in Staten Island, NY; daughter of Shelly and Fuasto Aguilera. Addresses: Record company--RCA Records, c/o BMG Entertainment, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
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 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. Rodger and Hammerstein's 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.
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 an 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 Searchtalent contest,but failed to win, andnalthough 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 "bubble gum" 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 animated movie, Mulan. 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 song's 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 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. The release of a second single from the album, "What a Girl Wants," early in 2000, was a type of déja 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 10 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 Songalbum 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 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 Year's 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 League's 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 Grammy--from the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences--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, 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 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 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 Levi's present Christina Aguilera" tour, performing 50 shows from July 31 through September 25.
Aguilera has always 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 album's title song, "Mi Reflejo," is a Spanish version of Aguilera's 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 Billboardpraised the album, predicting that Aguilera's style might generate a new type of Latino music--a 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 Aguilera's 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 dreamer--intrigued by her night dreams as well as her daydreams--and 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, Aguilera's life remains relatively uncomplicated as she exits her teens. In 2000 she vacated her house in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in favor of an apartment in Southern California.
by Gloria Cooksey
Christina Aguilera's Career
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.
Christina Aguilera's Awards
Grammy Award, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, best new artist, 1999; ALMA Award, best new artist, 2000.
- Selected discography
- "Reflections," RCA, 1998.
- "Genie in a Bottle," RCA, 1999.
- "What a Girl Wants," RCA, 2000.
- "Genio Atrapado," RCA, 2000.
- Christina Aguilera , RCA, 1999.
- Christmas Song (with Etta James), RCA, 1999.
- Mi Reflejo , BMG U.S. Latin/RCA, 2000.
August 2003: Aguilera signed an 18-month contract to endorse Skecher's footwear in print ads and in-store promotions. Source:
February 8, 2004: Aguilera won the Grammy Award for best female pop vocal performance, for "Beautiful." Source: 46th Grammy Awards, grammys.com/awards/grammy/46winners.aspx, February 8, 2004.
April 29, 2004: Aguilera announced the cancellation of her 28-city North American tour, due to strained vocal chords. Source: CNN.com, www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Music/04/30/music.christina.aguilera.ap/index.html, April 30, 2004.
December 3, 2004: Aguilera arrived on tour in India. Source: Reuters, tv.reuters.com, December 6, 2004.
November 19, 2005: Aguilera married record executive Jordan Bratman. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, November 21, 2005.
- Billboard, August 12, 2000, p. 13.
- Rolling Stone, October 28, 1999, p. 93 (4); June 6-20, 2000, p. 82 (4).