Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Rochester, Beaver County
Pop diva Christina Aguilera was reared in Rochester.
Awards: Grammy Award
Christina Aguilera was born on December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York. Her family moved to Rochester, Pennsylvania, in 1986, but later moved to Wexford, Pennsylvania, where Aguilera attended Marshall MS and North Allegheny HS. In 1988, she performed on Star Search, even though she did not win. In 1992, she became a member of the cast of The New Mickey Mouse Club. In 1998, she was signed with RCA Records and released the albums Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo, My Kind of Christmas, Just Be Free, Stripped, and Back to Basics.
Christina Maria Aguilera was born on December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York, to Fausto Xavier Aguilera, of Ecuadorian decent and a member of the military, and Shelley Loraine Fiddler, of Irish, Welsh, and Dutch decent and a professional pianist and violinist. Due to her father’s military background, Aguilera’s family often moved. For a short time, she attended Rochester Area Elementary school in Rochester, Pennsylvania, until threats were made against her family, stemming from jealousy of her even then obvious talent, and they decided to move. It was not until her parents were divorced, due to abuse, when Aguilera was six-years-old, that her mother made a home for them in Wexford, Pennsylvania, where she attended Marshall Middle School and North Allegheny High School. Even though she often used singing as an escape from her father’s abuse, even at this young age, she knew that she wanted to sing as a profession as well, and she began entering various talent shows, where she became known as the little girl with the big voice.
In 1988, at the tender age of eight, she got her chance to bring herself to the attention of the masses, and received a spot on Star Search. Although she did not win, she continued with hopes of becoming a star. When she was 11, Aguilera sang at a Pittsburgh charity banquet, and amazed the crowd with her powerful voice, and she received offers to sing the National Anthem for the Penguins, Pirates, and the Steelers. Her big break came in 1992, at the age of 12 when she received a spot on the Disney Channel’s variety show The New Mickey Mouse Club, which included various successful singers and actors, including Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, and future *NSYNC members Justin Timberlake and J.C. Chasez.
After two years on the show, Aguilera decided to travel to Japan, where she recorded the duet “All I Wanna Do” with pop star Keizo Nakanishi. In 1998, she returned to the U.S. and sent a demo tape of her singing to The Bodyguard’s “I Wanna Run to You,” originally sung by Whitney Houston, to Disney. That was all they needed to hear, and she was asked to sing “Reflection” for Disney’s hit movie Mulan, which was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for a Motion Picture. That same week, Aguilera was signed with RCA Records, and on August 24, 1999, she released her self-titled debut album. The hit single “Genie in a Bottle” from this album dominated the charts for five weeks, and sent the album itself to number one on the pop albums charts. The album did so well that it sold 250,000 in its first week, selling over eight million copies in the U.S alone. In 1999, Aguilera won a Grammy for Best New Artist, over fellow Mouseketeer Britney Spears. She even went on to perform at the White House Christmas Gala and the Super bowl Halftime Show. With the success of her first album, Aguilera decided to release an album in Spanish, Mi Reflejo [My Reflection] on September 12, 2000, which helped her to get her second Grammy, from the Latin Recording Academy. Since she was not fluent in Spanish, she learned the words to her songs phonetically. Soon after she released her Christmas album, My Kind of Christmas. Both of the albums, Mi Reflejo and My Kind of Christmas sold extremely well.
In 2001, she went on to record a remake of “Lady Marmalade” with Pink, Lil Kim, and Mya for the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge. Although the video took home the MTV award for Best Video of the Year, it sparked a major controversy concerning Aguilera’s image. No one could criticize her vocal abilities, but they were more concerned with the provocative way in which she was dressed; their main concern being that she was a role model for young girls. Aguilera went on to say in an interview that the movie in which the song was made for was based on a brothel, and she dressed accordingly. Despite these criticisms, she went on in 2002 to win her third Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Lady Marmalade.”
In 2001, she entered a legal battle with Warlock Records in protest of them releasing a collection of her older demos, which were recorded when the star was 14 and 15. Despite her objections, the court battle was unsuccessful and the demos were released as the album Just Be Free. This album was not received as well as Aguilera’s previous albums, but record sales were decent.
Following the release of this album, Aguilera put the final touches on next album. She wanted to get out of the realm of teen pop star and start making songs that reflected her maturity and age. In October of 2002, the album, Stripped, was released, and featured Aguilera’s new sexier image. In a review, Billboard said that Stripped is “a must-hear recording rich with pleasantly surprising depth.” Rolling Stone, although they only gave the CD three stars, said that “Aguilera’s mighty voice continues to grow richer—on belters such as “Cruz” she can out-Whitney Whitney—and these days she wisely avoids the R&B tic of bending the hell out of every note, “Flight of the Bumblebee”-style. Stripped deserves a fair shot.” The album featured hits such as “Dirrty,” “Beautiful,” and “Can’t Hold Us Down.” This album made her Billboard’s Female Artist of the Year. With this album, Aguilera’s image changed completely. She appeared topless on the Stripped album cover, and she even posed nude for an issue of Rolling Stone. She followed the release of this CD with a tour with fellow Mouseketeer Justin Timberlake, and in June the Justified and Stripped Tour began. Shortly before the tour, in 2003, Aguilera performed “Like a Virgin” and “Hollywood” with Madonna and Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards. A controversy was sparked when Madonna French-kissed both Aguilera and Britney Spears. These two kisses sent a wave of media attention towards the pop stars.
Aguilera did take a little time in between her albums. When she was asked in an interview about the cause of the delay, she replied, “Between albums I did fall in love. I’d been in a relationship with my new husband, just discovering a new side of myself. It took me to this kind of feel-good place, and to me there’s nothing that feels better than old music of the ‘20s and ‘30s and ‘40s and on. I just felt that it all made sense to go along with that whole style and feel and even visually.” This time off helped her realize that she was ready to settle down, and a new Aguilera emerged. On November 19, 2005, she wed longtime boyfriend and music executive Jordan Bateman. She and her husband currently reside in Beverly Hills, California. With the upcoming release of her most current album, Aguilera changed her image once again. Her album Back to Basics is a more jazz and soul inspired compilation, and was released in 2006. The first single from this album, “Ain’t No Other Man,” won a 2007 Grammy award for Best Female Pop Vocal. Reviewer Michael Fraiman says that “Back to Basics is, if nothing else, a triumph of diversity over coherence. No two songs sound similar on this two-disc compilation, as Aguilera takes her style to a whole new plateau of pretension—choirs akin to gospel, trumpets akin to jazz, and organs akin to the circus are all thrown into this assorted musical hybrid. Rolling Stone gave the CD three out of five stars, claiming that the CD was too long and “At one disc, this would have been nothing short of masterful.”
No matter how many times she has come out with an album, Aguilera has never failed to reinvent herself, and appeal to so many different generations. She was quoted as saying “I am the kind of artist that constantly likes to change and constantly likes to challenge myself and give my audience a new look and a new me,” which has been illustrated with every album that she has done. She is a role model and has no problem sharing her experiences, good and bad, in her lyrics. She will not be known just as the woman who could sing in four octaves, but as a trendsetter.