Aguilera's start in show business is the musical equivalent of Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team. At age 8, she competed on Star Search, singing Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love Of All" -- and lost.

Despite this setback, little Christina didn't give up. She used her consolation prize money to buy a portable sound system so she could sing in the park and at neighborhood parties. Two years later, she was singing the National Anthem at Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers games. By 12, she was well on her way to her personal kind of Fantasyland, when she landed a slot on Disney's The New Mickey Mouse Club. Go to pictures of Christina Aguilera...

Aguilera, along with her future pop chart competition Britney Spears, was one of the youngest members of the multi-talented cast (which also included Keri Russell of Felicity and J.C. Chasez and Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync). After two years as a Mouseketeer, she traveled overseas to pursue her singing career, and recorded a duet with Japanese pop star Keizo Nakanishi, "All I Wanna Do." Upon her return to the States, she got an even bigger break.

When she heard that Disney was looking for a singer to record a song for the animated film Mulan, Aguilera cut a one-take demo using the boombox in her living room. (Her Star Search appearance didn't scare her away from Whitney Houston material: the demo was a reading of Houston's "I Wanna Run To You.") The demo was FedExed to Disney and 48 hours later she was in a Los Angeles studio recording "Reflection" for Mulan. Within the week, RCA signed her to a major label record contract. ("Reflection" also appears on her debut album, and the song was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.)

In June 1999, things started rubbing the right way and Aguilera's first single, "Genie in a Bottle," became one of the anthems of the summer. Though the song had irresistible R&B beats and pop hooks, she was worried that it didn't show off her vocal prowess as much as her self-titled debut's other tracks. But her fans loved it, and critics saw that she wasn't just another bubble gum-smacking, navel-baring teenybopper. Writing in Time, David Thigpen called her "one of the most strikingly gifted singers" since Mariah Carey. Thanks to the strength of "Genie" and the next single, "What a Girl Wants," Aguilera's disc went multi-platinum and won her the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Along the way, this tiny 5'2" blonde, blue-eyed teenager proved she wasn't simply the tiny doll that she looks like. One listen to her booming voice is evidence that she's a major talent in the making, not just part of a fly-by-night trend. Aguilera is a singer who appeals to music lovers of all ages, not just people who buy their wardrobes from the Delia's catalog. You don't see any other teen singers attempting to cover Etta James's"At Last" in concert -- or any that could pull it off as Aguilera can.

Christina Aguilera Bio Data
Name: Christina Maria Aguilera
Birthdate: December 18, 1980
Birthplace: Staten Island, NY
Father: Jim Aguilera
Mother: Shelly Aguilera
Siblings: Rachel, Casey, Michael, and Stephanie
Favorite Artists: Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, & Boys II Men


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