Teen pop diva Christina Aguilera was born December 18, 1980 in Staten Island, NY; the careers of her military father and musician mother ensured that the family traveled the globe before finally settling in Wexford, PA. By the time she was five, Christina knew all the songs from The Sound of Music and performed them at neighborhood block parties. It wasn't long before Christina Aguilera was performing the National Anthem at professional sporting events in the area. The youngster first began performing in area talent shows. At age eight, Aguilera appeared on the syndicated television series Star Search.
At ten she sang the National Anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins. When Christina Aguilera was 10, she also went to an open audition for The Mickey Mouse Club. She didn't make the cut, but two years later Disney invited her back. She got a part and became a Mouseketeer working with now-famous co-stars like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez (of *NSYNC ) and Keri Russell from Felicity. Christina Aguilera sang, danced and performed her heart out during her two years on the show.
During her Mouseketeer days, Christina Aguilera caught the eye of manager Steve Kurtz, who requested a demo tape to send to RCA exec, Ron Fair. Amazed by her voice and beauty he offered her a record deal when she was 15. As luck would have it, around the same time he received a call from a friend who worked at Disney who was looking for someone to sing Reflection, the lead song in the upcoming animated Mulan flick. His first thought was his new singer Christina Aguilera. She got the gig and the song was eventually nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture.
After two years on the show, Christina traveled overseas to further hone her musical skills. She recorded the duet "All I Wanna Do" with Japanese pop star Keizo Nakanishi. Aguilera's first pop music success came in Japan thanks to a smash duet "All I Wanna Do".
And later, Christina almost caused a riot at Romania's Golden Stag Festival when she waded into the crowd of 10,000 while performing her two-song set on a bill which included Sheryl Crow and Diana Ross.
Upon returning to the States in early 1998, Christina auditioned to sing "Reflection," a track which appears on her debut album, for Disney's animated film "Mulan." The film makers needed someone "who could hit a high E above middle C" according to Christina, who then cut a one-take demo in her living room singing to a karaoke tape of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Run To You." The demo was rushed to Disney, and within hours, Christina was in a Los Angeles studio recording "Reflection." That same week, RCA Records signed her to a record contract. "Mulan" premiered in America in June 1998, and "Reflection" became a Top 15 US single.
On her self-titled debut album for RCA in 1999, Christina showcased her many talents. From the sparkling upbeat dance-pop of the "Genie In A Bottle" to the soulful gospel strains of "So Emotional" and the awe-inspiring ballad "I Turn To You," Christina's powerful voice intertwined themes of finding one's own identity with the uncertainties of growing up. The album, which Christina says was very scripted for her, leaving her with little real involvement, fitted in with the popular music of the time to reap high sales.
October 2000 saw the release of "My Kind Of Christmas," a soulful collection of sacred carols, holiday pop classics, and newly written songs for the season. Said Christina, "I wanted to bring a real R&B edge to some of these songs. Making the album really unleashed the soul in me. I'd say it's an all-around feel-good album."
Christina was established fully in the industry, having three top 50 US albums, including a massive selling #1, and she said at the time, "It's been quite a roller-coaster ride but I think I've grown and learned a lot about myself. In this business, it's often all about hype, record sales, and parties, and it can be easy to get lost in believing in all that. But I try to monitor myself on a regular basis. The greatest thing is being able to touch peoples' lives. I know that's a greater accomplishment than selling records. I simply love what I'm doing everyday".
However, this joy was not to be for long and after having her heart broken for the first time and experiencing a close to breakdown stage in her life through stress, Christina went off and decided to be normal and rebuild her life. In that time she wrote as a way of relaxing and as therapy and set about recording a new album in 2002. The product, which was postponed and postponed as it was not "perfect" was finally released in October. With a very strong promotional campaign, the lead single "Dirrty" managed to be a worldwide hit. Combining a killer hip-hop hook and R&B chorus, the track hit #1 in the UK, and the only country where it underperformed was in America, where the single did not take off at radio, only reaching #48 in the national Billboard charts. Unbroken by the lack of love America was showing "Dirrty," Christina released "Stripped," her first album in over 2 years where it debuted at #2.
Aguilera topped the pop charts with the single "Genie in a Bottle." Christina Aguilera sold over 10 million copies worldwide in just under a year and turned its namesake into a superstar. She followed this successs with performances at the Super Bowl XXXIII Halftime Show and for President Clinton, and won a Best New Artist Grammy. Just over a year after she released her debut album, Aguilera released Mi Reflejo, a collection of Spanish-language songs, as well as a holiday album.
"Mi Reflejo," Christina's first Spanish language album, was a recording project very close to her heart. Her second album, produced by Latin music master Rudy Perez (Luis Miguel, Julio Iglesias) and recorded in Miami, the album included several new songs as well as five smash English language hits of Christina's, translated and re-recorded especially for the new album. Executive producer Ron Fair, producer Rudy Perez, and Christina sifted through more than 300 songs before making their final selections. Said Christina, "It's very cool for me personally, because it gives me a chance to explore my Latin side, something I've wanted to do for a long time, even before I was signed. I love the Spanish language, which opens up a whole new musical arena for me. This will make my grandparents proud."
Christina Aguilera has had a huge impact on the international music scene since 1999. A huge American story (three #1 smash hit singles, performing for the US President, taking home a Grammy for Best New Artist and a mammoth summer/autumn 2000 tour) has been reflected in her worldwide, and more specifically, her UK profile. Her debut album "Christina Aguilera" has sold thousands, peaking at #14 in the UK album charts, and produced some hugely enjoyable singles, including the two top 3 hits "Genie In A Bottle" and "What A Girl Wants," and it is of course near impossible to avoid the ludicrous media circus which follows her around.
"When you're seventeen years old, green and inexperienced, you're grateful for any guidance and direction you can get." Says Christina on her rocket sled ride to the top following the 1999 release of her eponymously-titled debut album, with its string of consecutive chart toppers, including "Genie In A Bottle" and "What A Girl Wants." It was a feat she would repeat the following year with Mi Reflejo, the smash Spanish language version of her debut, followed by her hit holiday release, My Kind Of Christmas.
Christina is an eclectic, seasoned artist and every single from "Stripped" - in fact every single song on the album - is different, reflecting this. From the jazz soul of "Walk Away" to the rock of "Fighter," to the beautiful ballad "Cruz" and the neo-soul of "Impossible," not to mention the R&B of "Get Mine, Get Yours," no two tracks sound the same. Feeling more "real" and safe inside her own skin, Christina's new image is her most personal and most real.
The sixteen new tracks that comprise Stripped, including her sensational debut single, "Dirrty," showcases an unadorned, unfettered and fearlessly outspoken artist who has liberated herself, her soul and her music on an album that is as much a declaration of independence as it is a convincing demonstration of her fierce and original talent. Simply put, this is the real deal.
Recorded over an eighteen-month stretch, with Christina firmly at the helm every step of the way, Stripped slowly but surely took shape, not only as an exercise in breathtaking stylistic diversity but as a resonant and revealing look into the mind and emotions of a young woman on the verge of personal and professional liberation.
The result is resonant and revealing original tracks that decisively shred Christina's squeaky clean persona, even as they set the stage for a career that, millions of albums and concert tickets later, is only now just getting started.
The proof is all over Stripped, from the opening notes of "Impossible," the smoky ballad by Alicia Keys, to the romantic revelations of "Can't Hold Us Down," featuring the persuasive production of Scott Storch; from the soaring affirmations of "Beautiful," to blistering licks of "Make Over," to the superheated funk of "Dirrty," featuring Redman and Rockwilder. "I loved 'Let's Get Dirty,'" Christina reveals, "So I asked Rockwilder to put something together kind of like that for me." She laughs. "What I got was a little too close, but then I figured, 'Why not?' The track is like an answer song to the original, only from a female point of view."
As much excitement and surprise as a first listening to Stripped might generate, there are other textures, urgent, honest and unguarded, that emerge with time. "Everything I sing about in 'I'm OK' is real," she asserts. "I took it right out of my life and I'm singing it right to my Dad." While another Stripped standout, "Can't Hold Me Down," may at first sound like payback to a certain superstar rapper, for Christina that's hardly the point. "I haven't got time for all that," is her retort. "I'm more interested in helping girls stand up for themselves. That's what the song is about - double standards and how we're supposed to look and act a certain way just to please men. If I have any influence as an entertainer, I want it to be optimistic and uplifting, to make this world a little better place to live."
For Christina Aguilera, it all begins by getting real. "This music is who I am," she confidently asserts. "You can take it or leave it, but I'm not going to change, not for anyone." In the end, she says, it's a tribute to the millions of worldwide fans who have made her a household name. "Fans grow up, too," she smiles. "We're all reaching out for something more real and if we really want it, we're going to find it. This album is for anyone who really wants it."