"a disturbing mix of childhood innocence and adult sexuality"
This has been the defining theme of Britney Spears' career. Her move from the world of Disney to the world of Pop/Rock has often been characterized by her adolescent struggles to find herself amid the watchful arena of superstardom.
Britney Jean Spears was born December 2, 1981 in McComb, Mississippi and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana. From an early age Spears showed a prodigious talent for performance. She was an accomplished gymnast, competing in state competitions until the age of nine. In addition, she danced in local shows and performed with her church choir.
At the tender age of eight Spears auditioned for Disney's Mickey Mouse Club. Show executives turned her down citing her young age as the reason. That same year she entered New York's Professional Performing Arts School. She was connected with a New York agent and spent the next few years performing in shows on and off-Broadway.
In 1992 Spears became a contestant on Star Search. Eleven year-old Spears won the first round but, ultimately, she was eliminated from the show. After this she auditioned for Disney again and this time she won a role on The Mickey Mouse Club where she remained for two years.
Following a hiatus to finish high school Britney Spears reentered the public spotlight with the short-lived girl group, Innosense. Spears moved on quickly however and, in 1997, signed a solo contract with Jive records.
In October 1998 Spears released her debut single, Baby One More Time. This was soon followed by the release of her debut album of the same name. This album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and has been certified 14x Platinum in the United States. The album also garnered her four Billboard Music Awards, along with Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist at the American Music Awards.
Star on the Rise
Riding on the heels of her freshman album Spears released Oops!...I did it Again in May 2000. Again, Spears debuted at number one on the charts. Additionally, it achieved diamond status, with more than 10 million copies sold in the US. Furthermore, Spears won two more Billboard Music Awards.
With her third album, Britney, released in 2001, Spears assumed more creative control of her work, co-writing five of the tracks. Again, she debuted at number one, making her the first female artist to have her first three albums debut at number one. Reviews were favorable toward this album, which was more of a mix of pop with R&B and hip hop beats.
In 2002 Spears branched out and opened a restaurant, Nyla, in New York City. The restaurant served a mix of Louisianan and Italian cuisine. The venture was short-lived, with Nyla closing in 2003. In contrast, in 2002 Forbes magazine ranked Spears as the world's most powerful celebrity and cited her earnings at $39.2 million.
In 2003 Spears' fourth album, In the Zone, debuted at number one on the charts, making her the only female artist in history to have her first four albums open at the top of the charts. Toxic, the hit single from the album earned Spears her first Grammy for Best Dance Recording.
2004 saw a number of personal highs and lows for Spears. First, in January, she married a friend from her childhood, Jason Allen Alexander, in Las Vegas. The marriage was annulled 55 days later. By July of that same year she had announced her engagement to Kevin Federline. They were married in a surprise ceremony in September of the same year. The two then starred in their own reality show, Britney & Kevin: Chaotic, airing during May and June 2005. September 2005 saw the birth of Spears and Federline's first child, Sean Preston Federline. Less than a year later she gave birth to a second son, Jayden James Federline. Seeming marital and familial bliss was cut short when Spears filed for divorce from Federline in November of that same year. The next several years saw a string of emotionally charged standoffs between the embittered parents centered around custody of the couples two young sons. These battles, at times, seemed to push Spears to the edge but, she continued to work, making guest appearances on various shows and releasing a greatest hits album and a remix album.
Family and Finding her Voice
October 2007 saw the release of Spears' fifth album, Blackout. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and was well received, overall, by critics. Digital downloads of this album, from a variety of mp3 music download sites, have topped well over 3 million. However, that is nothing compared to the response after the release of her sixth album, Circus (2008), which set a record with most first-week downloads by a female artist. The single, Womanizer, gave Spears her first number one since ...Baby one more Time.
Did you know that...
- ...Spears got married in The Little White Chapel.
- ...Spears was a member of the female group Innosense