Christina Maria Aguilera (born December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York), colloquially known as Xtina, is an American-born pop singer-songwriter of Ecuadorian and Irish descent. She is most often recognized by her notable vocal abilities and unorthodox fashion sense. Her vocal skills have been compared to those of singers such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, and she is one of the most prominent recording artists of her generation. She has achieved four number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as two top-five albums and 4 Grammy Awards in the United States.
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Christina Aguilera grew up mainly in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, Pennsylvania, after living in various places around the world. Her father, Fausto Aguilera, is a U.S. Army sergeant of Ecuadorian descent, and her mother, Shelly Loraine Fidler (now known as Shelly Kearns), is a Spanish translator from Newfoundland, Canada, and of remote Irish descent.
Since Aguilera was able to talk, she set a goal to become a professional singer. As a child, she performed at block parties and in talent competitions — defeating opponents with little effort. Aguilera soon gained media attention, and was known to some as “the little girl with the big voice”.
On March 15, 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing Ella Fitzgerald’s “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.
Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before 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, as well as Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez (who went on to join *NSYNC) and Keri Russell (who would go on to become the star of Felicity).
Aguilera’s first hit single was “All I Wanna Do”, which was a collaborative effort recorded in Japan with Japanese pop sensation Keizo Nakanishi. In 1997, Aguilera competed in an international singing contest at the Golden Stag Festival in Transylvania, Romania, where she shared the stage with Sheryl Crow and Diana Ross. In 1998, after proving herself as a singer with a high, powerful chest voice, singing the High “E” note an octave above middle “C” on a cover of Whitney Houston’s “Run to You” which she recorded with an old tape recorder in her bathroom, she was selected to perform the song “Reflection” for the Disney animated production of Mulan (1998). The music video promoting the film featured a young Aguilera with bobbed hair. It was her first music video. “Reflection” peaked at number fifteen on the Adult Contemporary Singles Chart. The song was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for a Motion Picture in 1998.
Christina Aguilera: Debut
Aguilera on the cover of her 1999 debut album, Christina Aguilera. Under the exclusive representation of Steve Kurtz, her self-titled album, Christina Aguilera, was released on August 24, 1999. It reached the top of the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts, selling over eight million copies in the United States alone. It was released the same week as Puff Daddy’s long-awaited second album Forever and showed Aguilera’s instant rise to fame by beating him to the number one spot. “Genie in a Bottle“, “What a Girl Wants“, and “Come on Over (All I Want Is You)” all reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 during 1999.
However, Aguilera did not only enjoy commercial success; it became obvious that the industry thought she had talent when she won for Best New Artist at the 2000 Grammy Awards. She was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Genie in a Bottle”. “Obvious”, the final track of the album was one of the original demo tracks that were sent to Ron Fair before Christina was signed with Aguilera’s record label, RCA.
In 2000, Aguilera first emphasized her Latino heritage, following the Latin Pop trend of the time, by releasing her first Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo. This album contained Spanish-language versions of songs from her English debut as well as new Spanish tracks. It reached twenty-seven on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Latin album charts. In 2001, the album won Christina a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. The single “Falsas Esperanzas” from the album reached the top forty in Argentina in 2001.
Ricky Martin asked her to duet with him on the track “Nobody Wants to be Lonely” from his album Sound Loaded; the song was released as the second single from the album in 2001, reaching the top five in the United Kingdom and Germany, top twenty in the U.S., and top forty in Canada, Switzerland, and Australia.
Aguilera on the cover of Just Is Free at the age of 15. In 2000, a single emerged into record stores called “Just Be Free“, one of the demos Aguilera recorded when she was about 15 years old. When RCA Records discovered the single, they officially advised fans not to purchase it and had German authorities pull the single off shelves as well. Months later, Warlock Records was set to release Just Be Free; an album that contains the demo tracks.
Aguilera filed a breach of contract and unfair competition suit against Warlock and the album’s producers to block the release. Instead, the two parties came to a settlement to release the album. Many of the details of the lawsuit remain confidential. When the album was released on August 21, 2001, it had a photograph of Christina when she was fifteen years old.
Change in Management
Although Aguilera’s album was very well received, she was dissatisfied with the music and image her management had created for her. At the time, Aguilera was marketed as a bubblegum pop artist, because of the genre’s upward financial trend. However, she publicly mentioned plans of her next album to have much more depth, both musically and lyrically. Steve Kurtz’s influence in matters of the singer’s creative direction, the role of being her exclusive personal manager and overscheduling has in part caused her to seek legal means of terminating their management contract.
On October 13, 2000 Aguilera filed a Breach of Fiduciary Duty lawsuit against Kurtz for improper, undue and inappropriate influence over her professional activities, as well as fraud. According to legal documents, Kurtz did not protect her rights and interests. Instead, he took action that was for his own interest, at the cost of hers. The lawsuit came about when Aguilera discovered Kurtz used more of her commissionable income than what he was allotted, and had paid other managers to assist him. She also petitioned the California State Labor Commission to nullify the contract.
When she terminated Kurtz’s services, Irving Azoff was hired as her new manager. The change in management marked a new change in how Aguilera was marketed, as well as what music she would do in the future.
Kurtz countersued on October 27 for breach of contract, claiming that the singer violated the same agreement she had sued to void. In the lawsuit, he included others close to Aguilera, alleging their intent to sabotage his business relationship with Aguilera. He also singled out Azoff for being in violation of the terms of Kurtz’s contract.
Stripped: Career Development
Aguilera on the cover of StrippedOn October 29, 2002, after many delays, Aguilera’s second full-length English album, Stripped, was released in the U.S. The album was not received as well as her debut by most critics. The majority of Stripped was co-written by Aguilera, was about eighty minutes long, and influenced by many different subjects and music styles. “Impossible”, a collaboration with Alicia Keys, is a jazz-inspired song about someone who is trying to get through to one who is quiet and withdrawn. “Soar” is a gospel-inspired song about becoming self-reliant. “Make Over” is a pop-rock song about becoming an individual and people trying to change her. Aguilera’s most emotionally challenging song on the album could possibly be “I’m OK”. This track chronicles in detail how Aguilera was abused as a young child by her father, and she thanks her mother for her love through that time in her life.
However, Aguilera’s vocals were much overlooked as she began to cultivate a more sexually provocative image. After the release of the album, she took part in photoshoots for magazines such as Maxim, Rolling Stone, and Cosmo Girl. However, the song was a huge hit worldwide, reaching number one in several countries and on the World Chart. The album entered the U.K. and U.S. album charts at number two, and at number three in Canada, where they all ultimately peaked. Despite going double-platinum in the U.S. after only eight weeks on the chart, the album began to drop quickly with nothing but Aguilera’s star power to back it up.
The second single, “Beautiful”, was quickly released in the U.S. in late 2002. It instantly became a huge radio hit and allowed three more hits to be released from the album in the following two years: “Fighter”, “Can’t Hold Us Down”, and “The Voice Within”. The success of subsequent singles off the album gave Stripped massive staying power, as it stayed on the album charts well into 2004. This staying power was demonstrated most effectively in the UK, where the album remained consistently in the top twenty album charts between late 2002 and late 2004.
Stripped went on to ship four million copies in the U.S. and ended up at number ten on Billboard’s Year-End Album Chart. The album also went quadruple platinum in Australia despite only reaching a peak of number seven, again a reflection of its consistency between late 2002 and 2004. Kelly Clarkson’s first single ‘Miss Independent’ was co-written by Aguilera, and was originally supposed to be a song on Stripped. Aguilera was the number-one Billboard Female Artist (albums and singles) of 2003; however, she did not attend the event, and the award was given to Beyoncé, who was the number-two female artist of that year. This caused much controversy amongst fans.
The Stripped Tours
In early 2003, Aguilera aroused much commentary when she gained a noticeable amount of weight. Unflattering photographs of her flabby midsection spilling out of her conventionally skimpy costumes were circulated. Eating is sensual and fun. I’m not going to let it be spoiled by calorie-counting.” Later, she gave the reason for her weight gain as preparation for her upcoming Summer tour.
On June 4, Aguilera joined Justin Timberlake on the final leg of his international “Justified” tour, held in the U.S. On August 9, an overhead lighting grid collapsed from the ceiling of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, causing major damage to the sound and video equipment below. Since the collapse occurred hours before the performance, only a few stagehands were injured. As a result, a few shows were cancelled or postponed.
In the fourth quarter of that year, Aguilera continued to tour internationally without Timberlake and changed the name of the tour to simply the “Stripped” tour. Meanwhile, she dyed her hair black. The tour was one of the top-grossing tours of that year, as it sold out most of its venues. It also was named by Rolling Stone readers as the best tour of the year.
In light of the tour’s success, another U.S. tour was scheduled to begin in mid-2004 with a new theme and featuring Chingy as an opening act. The tour was scrapped due to Aguilera’s vocal chord injuries suffered shortly before its opening date. It was later reported by The Sun tabloid that low ticket sales and lack of new material were actually the major factors in the tour’s cancellation. Aguilera has since denied the report.
Aguilera and Madonna during a performance at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in a tribute to Madonna’s performance at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards’ ceremony, Aguilera performed a much-publicized lesbian kiss with the singer-actress at the 2003 edition of the ceremony on August 28. The incident occurred during the opening performance of Madonna’s songs “Like a Virgin” and “Hollywood”; however, it was heavily overshadowed by the kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears during the same performance.
Image used in the Declare Yourself billboard campaign. Photograph by David LaChapelleIn the run-up to the 2004 United States presidential election, Aguilera was featured on billboards for the “Only You Can Silence Yourself” online voter registration drive run by the nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign “Declare Yourself”. In these political advertisements, Aguilera is shown with her mouth sewn shut, to symbolize the effects of not voting.
In late Summer 2004, Aguilera released, almost consecutively, two singles. The first, “Car Wash”, was taken from the soundtrack of the hit movie Shark Tale. It is a collaboration with popular rapper Missy Elliott and is a cover version of Rose Royce’s disco hit. The second song is also a collaboration, but this time as a second single from one of Nelly’s double-release albums, Sweat, titled “Tilt Ya’ Head Back”. Aguilera appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards to perform it with him; it was a visually striking and effective performance in which Aguilera, a la Judy Garland, started her belting perched atop a grand piano. Aguilera copied another legendary look for the video: Marilyn Monroe’s.
Both singles flopped commercially in the U.S., but did considerably better in other parts of the world; “Tilt” reached number one in a few countries, including the Philippines. “Tilt Ya’ Head Back”, formerly rumored to be “Tilt Cha’ Head Back”, was well received in the U.S. at first, but sales quickly deteriorated mainly due to its lack of radio appeal and promotion. In spite of its promotion, “Tilt” recently went platinum in Australia for selling over 40,000 copies, while, “Car Wash” was certified gold for sales of over 25,000 copies. “Tilt” was later certified Gold in the U.S. by the RIAA in 2005.
After much delay, Aguilera’s first DVD live-recording from a concert tour, Stripped Live in the UK, was released in November 2004, excluding her performance of “Make Over”, due to its similarity with the song “Overload” by the Sugababes. In late December, she officially released a fragrance, Xpose, which has only been available in a few European countries.
After failed relationships with Latin dancer Jorge Santos (chronicled in her song “Infatuation” from her second album Stripped) and an unnamed producer, she began dating music executive Jordan Bratman. After dating him for almost three years, their engagement was announced in February 2005. In an interview with MTV at an Oscar party, she announced she would like to have her wedding in the Winter of 2005. Their wedding was conducted in Napa Valley, California on November 19, 2005.
Herbie Hancock’s album cover, “Possibilities” Aguilera collaborated with Herbie Hancock on his new album “Possibilities”. The album was released in stores on August 30, 2005, and debuted at number twenty-two on the Billboard charts. Her track is a cover of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You”. Since then, Christina Aguilera has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show her net worth is $160 million (as of 2020).