THE LITTLE GIRL WITH THE BIG VOICE
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THE LITTLE GIRL WITH THE BIG VOICE
A force to be reckoned with
One of Etta James's favorite singers
The voice of a generation
Christina. . .
as in AGUILERA
No starting small for Aguilera. . .
Christina Aguilera’s career could be described as that of a strong woman trying to find herself. She was born on December 19, 1980 into an abusive family situation that shaped her early life and determination. She watched The Sound of Music incessantly as a way to escape.
And those hard early years didn’t just form the desire she had practically since birth to be a singer. They cemented what kind of singer she was to become. Christina’s parents divorced when she was six. Afterward, living with her grandmother, she sang along with soul and blues records. Etta James was her inspiration.
At eight, she won her first talent show, singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”. And at ten, she competed on Star Search, singing “A Sunday Kind of Love.” The little girl with the big voice was on her way!
Looking for fame. . .
Turned down at first because she was too young, Aguilera joined Disney’s All-New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993.
Also all-new to the world of showbiz were her co-stars Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell.
As the show entered its last season in 1994, Christina began looking for a record deal. She wanted to have an album out before she finished high school!
Rising sun. . .
She and her mother moved to Japan where Christina hooked up with pop star Keizo Nakanishi to record “All I Wanna Do” (1997). Even this early, Aguilera boasts growing vocal poise – and use of melisma, a Cat 5 singing technique critics say she overuses today, given her already powerful four-octave range. But fans love her and we say do what works!
Rising star. . .
Back in the states (1998), she approached RCA who turned her down and pointed the 18-year old to Disney.
Disney Studios heard something special and selected Christina to sing “Reflection” for their animated film Mulan. The song hit #15 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
As the saying goes, when one door closes another opens. Aguilera walked right through.
And sometimes, doors open again. . .
. . .because a contract with RCA quickly followed, rushing to get in on the exploding teen pop trend. In 1999, Christina released her self-titled debut album. Christina Aguilera reached #1 on the Billboard 200, produced three #1 singles and went on to be certified 8x platinum (RIAA).
More accolades followed. Christina won Best New Artist at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards.
The looks of evolution. . .
Not happy with the shiny image RCA wanted to project, the young pop star pushed for independence and creative control, recording her version of “Lady Marmalade” for the 2001 film Moulin Rouge! which RCA execs opposed, but still she persisted. Then In 2002-2003, Aguilera released Stripped which she described as her “re-introduction…as a new artist in a way”. It was quite the pivot.
She released “Dirrty” as the lead single along with a music video that was widely criticized for its sexuality. The album revolves around issues of self-esteem, sex and gender equality and was praised for Aguilera’s vocals but not for the mix of musical styles. Aguilera said of the controversy: “I’m in the power position, in complete command of everything and everybody around me. To be totally balls-out like that is, for me, the measure of a true artist.”
Controversy is good. . .
Stripped went to #2 on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. Music has long been a vehicle for conversations about what’s going on in the world. With lyrics that embraced empowerment and inner beauty, the ballad “Beautiful” became an anthem for the LGBT community and was universally praised, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (2004, 46th Annual Grammy Awards).
As for “DIRRTY”, it continues to resonate and is famous for originating the slutdrop dance move, today seen everywhere in contemporary performances from Pussycat Dolls, Beyoncé and countless others.
Christina was Billboard’s Top Female Pop Act of 2003.
The voice of a generation. . .
In 2004, her image morphed again, featuring curly blond hair and hot retro makeup that recalled the Hollywood heyday of Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Mary Pickford.
This redefinition was well-received on her 2006 release Back to Basics, a double album Aguilera pegged as a “throwback” to the jazz, blues, and soul from the 20s-40s. Critics felt the retro style was a good match for her vocals. She won a Grammy in 2007 for the hit single “Ain’t No Other Man”. Her Back to Basics Tour was the highest-grossing solo female tour that year.
And an electric future. . .
Even with stylistic changes, as exemplified with the futurepop sounds of Bionic in 2010, Christina continued to explore sexuality and feminism. With mixed critical reviews, it peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200.
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Putting it all together. . .
That same year, she starred alongside Cher and veteran actor Stanley Tucci in Burlesque, a musical film with a country-girl-finally-makes-it-big storyline. Critics felt the movie was a cliché (it was) but liked Aguilera’s acting. Her singing was pretty solid too – she sang eight of the film’s tracks, Cher sang two. The soundtrack hit #18 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA.
Christina went on to appear as a coach on the first three seasons of The Voice. During the first season in 2011, she was featured on “Moves like Jagger”, a Maroon 5 hit that topped the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than seven million digital copies around the globe.
Shakira took her place for the 4th season of The Voice and since then she’s come and gone to pursue other interests and opportunities.
She's just getting started. . .
Aguilera collaborated on three international top-ten singles in 2013 – one went gold, one diamond and the third, “Say Something” (Great Big World) went 6x platinum.
Along with charting hits, Christina has played a recurring role as singer Jade St. John on ABC’s Nashville (2015); executive produced a musical game show on Spike TV; recorded “Change” which was dedicated to victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre and to Christina Grimmie, fatally shot in Orlando the night before; and a number of other projects including a voice in The Emoji Movie (2017) and starring in romantic syfy film Zoe (2018).
Who knows what's next. . .
It might seem like she’s done it all…yet at 38, The Xperience here in Vegas is a sensational blast with new show dates extending into 2020.
And while the X tour has enthralled millions around the world, Las Vegas has Christina Aguilera now.
There’s more to come, and for all you insiders and long-time fans, remember to drink Coke, not Pepsi!
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