Also Credited As:Christina María Aguilera
|Christina María Aguilera on December 18, 1980 in Staten Island, New York, USA|
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Christina Maria Aguilera was born on Dec. 18, 1980 in Staten Island, NY to Fausto Wagner Xavier Aguilera and Shelly Loraine (née Fidler). Her Ecuadorian father was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, while her Irish-American mother taught Spanish. The future star grew up in a bilingual household, where Spanish was the second language. Aguilera moved to Rochester, PA with her mother and younger sister, Rachel, after her parents divorced. The split ended years of her father's abusive behavior - both physical and emotional - towards her mother. Aguilera revealed details of the abuse many years later through her songs "I'm OK" (2002) and "Oh Mother" (2006), which included the lyrics, "Covering the cuts and bruises she could have died fighting for the lives of her children." Even though he made several attempts to reconnect with her, Aguilera ruled out a reunion with her father.
The emotional scar from growing up in an abusive household never held the young Aguilera back from chasing her true calling. She discovered her gift - the ability to sing with a four-octave vocal range - as a child competing in local talent shows, which earned the nickname "the little girl with the big voice." Her talent outshone a majority of her peers during her elementary school years, making Aguilera a social outcast. She was ridiculed by her classmates and even had her family's car tires slashed by neighborhood pranksters. Her family moved to Wexford, PA a few years later, where her talent was kept a secret to avoid the cruel bullying of other children. Aguilera attended Marshall Middle School and North Allegheny Intermediate High School before her mother decided that home schooling was the best option for the aspiring singer. In 1990, hard work brought her to the nationally syndicated talent competition "Star Search" (1983-1995), where she performed the 1946 standard, "A Sunday Kind of Love," to an audience stunned by the young singer's vocal prowess. Aguilera only placed second in the competition, but the exposure opened more opportunities for the budding talent, especially on her local music scene. She was often asked to sing the National Anthem for several major league sporting events, including the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. A year later, Aguilera joined "The New Mickey Mouse Club," a Disney Channel variety show aimed at young adults. Her cast mates included Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell - all of whom went on to become A-list stars in music or film/TV. Even amongst a talented group of young entertainers, Aguilera stood out for her powerful vocals and diva-like personality, which she channeled while covering songs by her idols such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
Aguilera recorded her first song, "All I Wanna Do," at the age of 14 with Japanese pop star Keizo Nakashini, and made her concert debut in 1999 at the all-female music festival, Lilith Fair. The Disney-groomed star was then asked to record the theme song "Reflection" for the animated film "Mulan" (1998) after sending in an audition tape where she hit the difficult High E note. She signed with RCA records and released her self-titled debut album in 1999. Christina Aguilera contained the infectious lead single "Genie in a Bottle," which topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for five consecutive weeks. Her follow-up tracks, "What a Girl Wants," a female-empowerment dance track, and the soulful ballad "I Turn To You" also fared well on the charts. Her "Mickey Mouse Club" contemporaries Spears and Timberlake (with his group 'N Sync) released albums around the same time as Aguilera's, marking a teen pop invasion in the music business. The media often pitted her against Spears for their bubblegum sound and sex kitten image, but it was Aguilera who pulled away from the rest of the Tiger Beat pack with a Best New Artist win at the 2000 Grammy Awards. The singer honored her Latin roots that same year with the album Mi Reflejo, which included Spanish versions of her hits songs. Aguilera also collaborated with fellow pop stars Pink, Mya, Lil' Kim, and Missy Elliott for a remake of the 1975 Labelle classic, "Lady Marmalade." The song served as the theme for the 2001 movie musical "Moulin Rouge!" Listening to the monster hit, it was clear who the star vocalist was when Aguilera powered up her grand entrance near song's end, blowing all the other singers out of the water. She did, however, receive the most negative criticism for her big-haired, lingerie-clad look in the "Lady Marmalade" music video, which went on to win Video of the Year at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. During the acceptance speech, Aguilera playfully exclaimed, "I guess the big hair paid off."
It seemed the "Lady Marmalade" video vixen was just a preview of what Aguilera had in store for her next album, Stripped. Released in 2002, the album showcased a more mature and confident singer who further pushed away from her bubblegum pop days. Her sexually provocative single (and music video) "Dirrty" shed the girl-next-door image of "Genie in a Bottle" and re-branded her as Xtina, a pierced and tattooed pop tart. The follow-up single "Beautiful," a ballad about overcoming her insecurities, received critical praise and peaked at No. 2 on the charts. Even though she had a whole new image and sound, Stripped gave Aguilera another successful run on the charts, earning four-times platinum status in album sales. Aguilera also became a songwriter for other artists, co-penning the hit single "Miss Independent" (2003) for Kelly Clarkson. In 2003, she joined forces with Timberlake (who had released a solo album post-'N Sync) for the "Justified/Stripped Tour." The co-headlining venture, dubbed "the sexiest tour on earth" by Rolling Stone magazine, was a commercial and critical success. Aguilera sparked controversy once again, when she and Spears opened the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards with a tribute to Madonna's "Like a Virgin" (1984) era, culminating with each singer locking lips with the Material Girl herself.
Aguilera took some time out from her music career in the mid-2000s to raise a family. She married music-marketing executive and longtime boyfriend, Jordan Bratman, in 2005 and gave birth to their son Max Liron Bratman in January 2008. People magazine reportedly paid the singer $1.5 million dollars for Max's first baby photos. Ironically, Aguilera's former teen pop rival Spears' public image spiraled down into messy divorces, drug abuse, and depression around the same time Aguilera was finally finding tranquility in her life. She defended Spears during the difficult time by telling the media, "I don't think any of us should judge her or jump to conclusions. Britney is a good person and a good mom." Aguilera also showed her comedic acting skills during a 2004 hosting appearance on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). The episode's most memorable skit was an homage to the characters of "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004), in which Aguilera did her best impersonation of man-loving Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), only to reveal she was a man the whole time. The fashionable star also appeared as a guest judge on the reality competition series, "Project Runway" (Bravo, 2004-08; Lifetime Television, 2008- ) in an episode where the designers had to create a Bob Mackie-inspired stage outfit for her. She endorsed various products throughout her career, including Skechers footwear, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and MAC cosmetics' Viva Glam campaign to fight AIDS.
Aguilera released her long-awaited album, Back to Basics in 2006, inspired by the legendary sounds of Etta James, Billie Holiday and John Coltrane. She also updated her grungy Stripped look into a sophisticated Marilyn Monroe persona she nicknamed Baby Jane. The lead single, "Ain't No Other Man," which featured Aguilera's signature soprano backed by 1920's jazz instrumentation, reached No. 6 on Billboard and earned her a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards. Another single, "Candyman," was a modern rearrangement of the 1941 Andrews Sisters' classic, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and was certified Gold. The singer released a collection of her greatest hits titled Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits in 2008 to celebrate 10 successful years in the music business. It included one new track, "Keeps Gettin' Better," which reached No. 7 on the Billboard singles charts. In 2010, Aguilera released her fourth English studio album, Bionic, which included collaborations with eclectic musical artists such as M.I.A., Goldfrapp, and Ladytron. The first single "Not Myself Tonight" was released in April 2010. That same year, she made her feature film acting debut with a starring role in "Burlesque," a musical film about a woman who moves from a small town to Los Angeles and finds fame while working at a neo-burlesque club. Music icon Cher played the club's owner and headliner.
What should have been a triumphant period for Aguilera was somewhat diminished, when in October of 2010, the pop diva filed for divorce from her husband of five years, Jordan Bratman. The release and reception of "Burlesque" was a mixed blessing, as well. Reviews of the film were, by and large, scathing, while the box office returns were indifferent at best. Softening the blow was Aguilera's Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song for "Bound to You," with the win ultimately going to another song from the film - "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" - sung by co-star Cher. Quite possibly more embarrassing than either her failed marriage or the poor performance of her debut film, was the vocalist's botched rendition of the national anthem at the 2011 Super Bowl XLV in February. Singing a cappella, Aguilera appeared to lose track of both the lyrics and her vocals. She was instantly vilified on the Internet and forced to release a brief comment, saying, "I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through."
Adding injury to insult, Aguilera was arrested less than a month later for public intoxication while her boyfriend, Matt Rutler, was arrested for driving while intoxicated. She was later released on bail and no charges were filed. Aguilera bounced back by becoming one of the hosts of "The Voice" (NBC, 2011- ), joining Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, country star Blake Shelton and hip-hop artist Cee Lo Green. The reality TV competition positioned itself to be a serious competitor to "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ) while boasting a more talented group of singers. The show became an immediate hit for the flailing NBC network and went on to increased ratings for its second season, which premiered to huge numbers following Super Bowl XLVI. Meanwhile, Aguilera shined when she sang a moving rendition of "At Last" during the funeral services for her idol, Etta James. She went on to record her seventh studio album, Lotus (2012), an electropop-centric release that featured the singles "Your Body" and "Just a Fool," a country pop duet with "Voice" co-star Shelton. The record received mixed reviews and generated poor sales. In early 2013, Aguilera announced that she was taking a break from "The Voice" in order to focus on her music, joining outgoing co-host Cee-Lo Green. The two were replaced with Shakira and Usher.