Born on July 10, 1980, in Richardson, TX; daughter of Joe (a psychologist/youth minister) and Tina Simpson. Addresses: Record company--Columbia Records, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY, 10022-3211. Website--Jessica Simpson Official Website: http://www.jessicasimpson.com.
Jessica Simpson is an accomplished singer whose impressive vocal ability, commitment to faith, and accessible image have transformed her from talented religious teen to certifiable pop star within a few short years. Armed with two successful records and a solid following, the young songstress secured a much-coveted position within the crowded arena of teen chart toppers in 2001. Additionally, her strong moral convictions and positive attitude have made her a notable role model to teen girls. Boasting a reported five-octave range and vocally likened to Mariah Carey, Simpson is considered a rising star within the music industry.
Simpson was born on July 10, 1980, in Richardson Texas, an affluent suburb north of Dallas. Her father was both a psychologist and a youth minister, and from an early age, the young Southerner was instilled with a strong sense of faith. Simpson's first singing experiences were in church, participating in musicals and singing in the choir. By the age of eleven, she had already begun performing publicly on the gospel circuit. "I did dance classes, went on to dance competitions--that's what I did as a little kid. I was definitely into the whole performance thing." Despite her obvious abilities, the budding singer suffered a large disappointment at the beginning of her career that could have threatened it but instead reinforced her direction.
In 1992, The Disney Channel's New Mickey Mouse Club was holding open-call nationwide auditions, seeking just the right "mouseketeers." Simpson appeared at a regional audition in Dallas and was selected out of more than 30,000 other contestants as a finalist for a cast position. Ultimately, however, she was denied access into this exclusive club. Simpson was admittedly intimidated by her competition, which included more seasoned youngsters such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and young heartthrob Justin Timberlake, now of 'N Sync. The Texas preteen failed to display the confidence she needed to be on television. "They said I couldn't work in front of a camera. But that's when I knew that I had the potential and really wanted it," she explained to Tiger Beat in 1999.
Although disappointed, Simpson was encouraged by her close-knit religious family to diligently pursue her dream to become a singer and not to give up. According to the teen crooner, "I would have definitely quit after The Mickey Mouse Club if it wasn't for my family, because I was so depressed and it hurt," she explained to the Dallas Texas Weekly. "You know as a 12 year old, it really hurts to be that close to something and not get it."
Simpson's persistence soon paid off. In 1993 at age 13, Simpson was discovered while singing at church camp and was quickly thereafter signed to fledgling gospel label Proclaim Records. She had been spotted belting out an a capella version of "Amazing Grace" by the camp's guest speaker who was in the process of launching the label. The youngster invested a great deal of effort working on the record, acquiring songs and developing her voice. Unfortunately, by the time her first album Jessica was completed, the label folded, leaving Simpson with an unreleased record and yet another disappointment.
The teenager's grandmother bankrolled Jessica, and Simpson and her minister father hit the Christian music circuit. Joe Simpson would speak to the kids and Jessica would be the featured musical performer. Afterward, Jessica would sell her self-released album to moved listeners. Simpson became popular on the circuit and proceeded to open for such well-known spiritual performers as CeCe Winans, Kirk Franklin, and God's Property.
Despite the fact that she was successful on the faith-based circuit, Simpson, who holds strong religious and moral convictions, longed for a larger audience. "I trust that every step I take is under God's control," she explained in the Dallas Texas Weekly. "I knew that I would get a bigger audience by doing the secular, and I have more of an opportunity to be a positive role model." In order to help their daughter make this transition, the Simpson family hired entertainment attorney Tim Medlebaum, who proceeded to set up nine record label meetings for the budding singer. Simpson did the nine showcases in two days. Her magic star-launching moment, however, occurred after meeting legendary Sony Music executive Tommy Motolla (who coincidentally is the ex-husband of Mariah Carey). Simpson sang for Motolla and was signed on the spot. The music business legend, who was aware of Jessica's background, was surprisingly accepting. "I was determined that I be able to stay who I am if I signed to a non-Christian music label," Simpson explained to Billboard magazine, "and when I met with Tommy Mottola, he was genuinely impressed with my beliefs and was completely supportive."
Sweet Kisses, Simpson's major-label debut, arrived in stores in 1999. The album contained catchy ballads and pop tunes all emphasized by the singer's expressive vocal ability. According to Billboard, "the lovely Simpson ... has the soulful pipes to go the platinum distance." Sweet Kisses lended the song "Did You Ever Love Somebody" to the soundtrack for the popular teen television show Dawson's Creek. It was also promoted heavily by Columbia Records. The album climbed up the charts to eventually reach platinum status. Simpson, well on her way to becoming a major star, toured both before and after the record's release, opening for well-known artists such as Latin pop star Ricky Martin and boy band 98 Degrees.
Simpson shortly found herself a major player in the teen pop arena, sharing chart space and magazine covers with other female hit makers including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Mandy Moore. The Texas-born vocalist was able to distinguish herself by both exercising her talent and presenting a sexy, though wholesome image. Simpson maintains a very public stance on abstinence and works hard to be a role model for teen girls. This was evidenced when she turned down the lead in the film Coyote Ugly in 2000 after finding out a particular sex-inclusive scene conflicted with her values. As she explained in the January 2001 issue of YM magazine, "I talk about how I am going to stay a virgin until I'm married, and then my fans would see this movie and be like, 'She's totally contradicting herself.'"
In 2001, Simpson released her sophomore effort entitled Irresistible, a more sophisticated record which showcased the singer's vocal ability as well as a solid group of songs contributed by notable outside writers. The June 16, 2001, edition of Billboard described Irresistible as "a great step forward for youth pop and sure footing for this glamorous talent." Undoubtedly her audience felt the same way. Irresistible landed in the Billboard top ten within a month of its release.
In 2004, Simpson released another album, In This Skin. She also began branching out into her other area of interest, fashion, when she signed a deal with Andrew Sports Club for $10 million to release a signature line of clothing. The clothing line, Princy, made its debut in stores in July of 2005. Simpson also released a line of cosmetics, Dessert Treat, but was soon embroiled in a lawsuit with Treat, Inc. another cosmetics company that accused her of usurping their name and some of their fragrances. Simpson's lawyers planned to countersue.
Late in 2005, Simpson took time out from her busy schedule to participate in a charity trip to Africa with Operation Smile, an organization that provides free reconstructive surgery to children with facial deformities. During her visit, the team's plastic surgeons performed 158 procedures. Simpson told a reporter in People, "It's crazy, to go there to bring blessings to these kids, and they end up blessing you more."
by Nicole Elyse
Jessica Simpson's Career
Began singing as a child in church, 1985; auditioned for The Disney Channel's New Mickey Mouse Club, 1992; signed to Proclaim Records, 1995; label folds, Jessica is self-released, 1995; gained popularity on Christian music circuit, sharing bills with Kirk Franklin, CeCe Winans, and God's Property; 1995-97; signed to Sony Music, 1997; toured with 98 Degrees, 1999; released Sweet Kisses, 1999; released Irresistible, 2001; married Nick Lachey, singer in 98 Degrees, 2002; with Lachey, starred in reality television show Newlyweds on MTV, 2003-04; released In This Skin, 2004; appeared in The Dukes of Hazzard, 2004.
- Selected discography
- "I Wanna Love You Forever," Sony, 1999.
- "Where Are You," Sony, 2000.
- "I Think I'm in Love with You" (Australian import), Sony/Columbia, 2000.
- Sweet Kisses , Sony, 1999.
- (Contributor) Songs from Dawson's Creek Vol. 1 (soundtrack), Sony, 1999.
- (Contributor) Songs from Dawson's Creek Vol. 2 (soundtrack), Sony, 2000.
- (Contributor) Here on Earth (soundtrack), Sony, 2000.
- Irresistible , Sony, 2001.
- In This Skin Sony, 2003.
- Rejoyce: The Christmas Album Sony, 2004.
- Billboard, December 4, 1999.
- CosmoGirl, December 1999/January 2000; March 2001.
- Dallas Texas Weekly, September 9, 1999.
- Entertainment Weekly, September 24, 1999.
- Fort Worth Star Telegram, August 22, 1999.
- Jump, October 1999.
- Lansing State Journal (Lansing, MI), April 15,1999.
- McGregor Mirror and Crawford Sun, August 26,1999.
- News Journal (Daytona Beach, FL), September 8, 1999.
- People, October 31, 2005, p. 66; November 21, 2005, p. 66.
- Popstar!, September/October 1999.
- Post Star (Glen Falls, NY), October 16, 1999.
- Request, December 1999.
- Rolling Stone, August 31, 2000.
- 16 Magazine, December 1999.
- Teen, July 2000.
- Teen People, October 2000.
- Teen Vogue, Fall 2000.
- TigerBeat, December 1999; June 2001.
- TV Guide, May 13, 2000.
- Twist, June 2000.
- Wichita Eagle (Wichita, KS), May 30, 1999.
- WWD, August 12, 1999; November 11, 1005, p. 8.
- YM, January 2001.
- Billboard.com, http://www.billboard.com (June 20, 2001).
- "Jessica Simpson," http://www.jessica_simpson.org/about.html (June 2, 2001).
- Jessica Simpson Official Website, http://www.jessicasimpson.com (June 2, 2001).
- Ultimate Band List, http://www.ubl.com (June 1, 2001).
- Additional information was provided by Columbia Records publicity materials, 2001.
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