Christina Mara Aguilera (born December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York) is an American singer and songwriter. She began working in the entertainment industry at a young age, making several appearances on television shows such as The Mickey Mouse Club. She was signed to RCA Records after recording the song “Reflection” for the film Mulan, and her bubblegum pop-influenced debut album Christina Aguilera (1999) was a critical and commercial success: it produced four hit singles, including “Genie in a Bottle”, and helped Aguilera win a Grammy Award. A Latin pop album and a Christmas LP released during this period also sold strongly.
Aguilera took creative control over her second studio album Stripped (2002), which produced the R&B-influenced; “Dirrty” and the award-winning “Beautiful”. It received mixed reviews, and Aguilera’s increasingly sexual image during its promotion became the subject of much criticism and controversy. She contributed to several other artists’ songs in 2004 and 2005 and married record executive Jordan Bratman. Her third studio album Back to Basics (2006), which was preceded by the hit single “Ain’t No Other Man”, included elements of soul, jazz and blues music and was released to high sales and positive critical reception.
Early life and career
Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York to Fausto Wagner Xavier Aguilera, a U.S. Army sergeant, and Shelly Loraine Fidler. Aguilera’s father was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador while her mother has German, French, English, Portuguese, Irish, and Dutch ancestry. Aguilera’s parents met while Fausto was serving at Earnest Harmon Air Force Base in Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador. They were both Catholics. Her parents married when her mother was 20 years old and her father was almost 32. Aguilera lived with her father and mother until she was 6 or 7 years old, when her parents divorced and her mother took her and her younger sister Rachel to her grandmother’s home in Rochester, Pennsylvania, a blue-collar suburb of Pittsburgh. According to Aguilera and Fidler, her father was very controlling, as well as physically and emotionally abusive. Since then, Fidler has married a paramedic named Jim Kearns, and has changed her name to Shelly Kearns.
Aguilera’s grandmother was the first person to recognize her vocal skills. Since Aguilera was a small child, she wanted to be a singer. She grew up admiring artists such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Barbra Streisand, Otis Redding, Madonna, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Donna Summer, Minnie Riperton, Bessie Smith, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. As a child she performed at block parties and in talent competitions, where she defeated her opponents. Aguilera soon gained media attention, and was known as “the little girl with the big voice”.
According to VH1’s Driven, this label eventually became cross-productive. When competitors learned they would be up against her in any given week, they immediately backed out, 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 and, by her own order, swore to secrecy about her talent lest another backlash occur.
On March 15, 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing Etta James’s “A Sunday Kind of Love”, but failed to win. 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 again. People remarked that the then 10-year-old “sounded 20”.
Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey games, 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 Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Rhona Bennett (who later became a member of En Vogue), Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell. According to the documentary Driven, Aguilera’s Mickey Mouse Club co-stars called her “the Diva”. One of her most notable performances was of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”.
Aguilera was alleged to have fought constantly with co-star Spears regarding Timberlake. She has said the two of them have made jokes about these alleged incidents, which suggests that the allegations may not be accurate.) When the show ended in 1994, Aguilera began recording demos in an attempt to get signed to a record label.