Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Life and music career: Early life and career

Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York, to Fausto Wagner Xavier Aguilera, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army at the time and Shelly Loraine Fidler, a Spanish teacher. Aguilera's father was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, while her mother is of Irish descent (her maternal grandmother emigrated from County Clare). The two met at Brigham Young University, and later married in the LDS temple in Washington D.C. Her father, Fausto, was stationed at Earnest Harmon Air Force Base in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada and Japan. Aguilera lived with her father and mother until she was seven years old. When Aguilera's parents divorced, her mother took her, and her younger sister Rachel, to her grandmother's home in Rochester, Pennsylvania, a blue-collar suburb of Pittsburgh. According to both Aguilera and Fidler, her father was very controlling, as well as physically and emotionally abusive. She later wrote about her difficult childhood in the songs "I'm OK" in Stripped, and "Oh Mother" in Back to Basics. Although her father has written to Aguilera, she has ruled out any chance to reunite with him. Since then, Fidler has married a paramedic named Jim Kearns, and has changed her name to Shelly Kearns.

As a child, Aguilera aspired to be a singer. Her musical influences included Etta James,
Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Nina Simone, and Madonna. She also cites the musical The Sound of Music as an early inspiration for singing and performing. As a child, she was known locally as "the little girl with the big voice", singing in local talent shows and competitions.
According to VH1's Driven, whenever competitors learned they would be up against her in any given week, would immediately withdraw, prompting insiders to claim it was "like sending a lamb to the slaughter." Her peers soon became jealous of her and would frequently subject her to ridicule, ostracism, and, in one gym class, attempted assault. Acts of vandalism around her house included the slashing of the tires on the family car. Eventually, the family relocated to another suburb in the Pittsburgh area and took to secrecy about Aguilera's talent lest another backlash occur.
On March 15, 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing Etta James' "A Sunday Kind of Love", but lost the competition. 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. People remarked that the then ten-year-old "sounded 20".
Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, 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 Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Rhona Bennett (who later became a member of En Vogue), Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, and Keri Russell. According to the documentary Driven, Aguilera's Mickey Mouse Club co-stars called her "the Diva". One of her most notable performances was of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing". When the show was canceled 1994, Aguilera began recording demos in an attempt to get signed to a record label.
At the age of fourteen, Aguilera recorded her first song, "All I Wanna Do", a hit duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. In 1997, she represented the United States at the "Golden Stag" International Festival with a two-song set which included a Sheryl Crow and Diana Ross .

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