Voted as one of the best Hollywood pop singers of all times, Britney Spears continues to lure the hearts of her fans despite her controversial life. Doubling up as songwriter, dancer and actress, the 35-year old singer is credited for her influence on teen pop in the '90s. Although many adore her for a successful career, very few know of Britney’s other side full of compassion and service to others.
Britney Jean Spears was born in McComb, Mississippi but raised in Kentwood, Louisiana. Her father James Parnell Spears was a building contractor while her mother Lynne Irene was an elementary school teacher. Although both her parents were American, her maternal grandmother was from Britain. Britney is the second born as she has an older brother and younger sister. Currently, her brother Bryan Spears is the manager of all the Spears family properties and her sister Jamie Lynn Spears followed Britney’s footsteps to become an actress and singer.
Although the Spears seem like a normal family, what many do not know is that Britney was not born in a stable household. Her father was a drunkard and was always shouting to the family especially Lynne. There were occasional fights in the family but Lynne, as cool as she was, always gave her husband another chance.
Britney’s love for music and dance started at an early age. She enjoyed singing to herself, her family or her friends. Britney always wanted to be a star while growing up and her idols included Madonna, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. At only three-years old, she was attending dance lessons in a school in Kentwood. It is here that she got the first chance to perform as a solo artist during the annual recital festivals. She would also attend gymnastics and voice lessons aimed at perfecting her talent. In fact, Britney made her first debut at age five when in Kindergarten, titled What Child Is This.
Britney’s mother believed in her daughter and encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming a star. At eight years, Lynne took her daughter to Atlanta, Georgia for an audition for The Mickey Mouse Club. Although Britney failed for being too young at the time, the director was impressed by her vocals and therefore introduced her to Nancy Carson who enrolled the young girl in the Professional Performing Arts School.
Being the ever supporting mother, Lynne, together with Britney and Jamie, moved to New York. It is at the big city that the determined star did a musical called Ruthless, starred in TV commercials and took part in the Star Search competition.
In 1992, she made yet another attempt in the auditions for Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club, and lucky enough, she was selected this time around. She was featured for two seasons alongside Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell. Britney describes the experience as one of a kind. Considering she was acting as Mouseketter, she was extensively trained in dance, drama and singing. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled in 1996 and Britney together with her family moved back to Kentwood.
Upon returning home, she enrolled at Parklane Academy in McComb but she was quickly bored. Despite having a bunch of friends in school, and countless teenager pool parties, she was restless and her thirst was to become a star again.
In her obsession to regain her stardom, Britney left for New York. She focused on getting a label that would make her a star once again. She sent out demo tapes to Sony and Mercury, but they were all rejected. Light finally shone on the young Britney in 1997 after Jive Records accepted to take in Britney and make her the star she is today.
The journey started with the A&R senior vice president appointing Eric Foster to become Britney’s producer. Here, the focused teenager’s voice was shaped to be more of pop style as hers was considered lower and less poppy. Working with A&R was a success that saw her fly to Cheiron Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, where her first album was recorded.
In 1998, she released her first single ‘Baby One More Time’ and was a great success. Jive Records suggested to Britney to have the music video for the song animated, but the teenager refused. Instead, she opted to dance in skimpy version as a Catholic school girl. The single received massive success, selling 500,000 copies on the first day of release.
In 1999, her debut album Baby One More Time was finally out and became a great hit topping the Billboard 200 chart immediately after the release. The title track became the lead song for the album and it was ranked position one on Billboard’s Hot 100 making history as the best selling teenager album. Other singles in the album include Sometimes, (You Drive Me) Crazy, Born to Make You Happy and From the Bottom of My Broken Heart.
The album has since sold more than 30 million copies globally hence becoming the best selling first album by any artist. Additionally, the album saw Britney receive four awards in the 1999 Billboard Music Awards and that included the best new artist and Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocalist. The album’s success was mainly due to appearances on live TV and the Baby One More Time tour among other promotion tours across the United States. Although the tours were a great success for her young career, she was hugely criticized for her racy outfits.
Following remarkable success in her debut album, Britney released her second album Oops! I Did It Again in May 2000. The album performed extremely well globally selling over a million copies in just the first week and breaking the SoundScan record for highest debut sales by a solo artist.
Upon a good performance, the album received Grammy nominations for being the Best Pop Vocal album while the title track was applauded for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Britney now embarked on promotion of her second album across the United States. She commenced with the Oops! I Did It Again Tour which brought her sales to $40.5. She also performed at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards where she ripped off her suit revealing a fresh colored bodysuit. The performance received criticism most critics citing that Britney was showing signs of becoming a provocative performer. In 2000, she recorded a remarkable achievement after releasing the book Britney Spears’ Heart to Heart which was co-written with her mother.
The following year was still bright for the then 20-year old star. It started off with an $8 million promotional deal signed with Pepsi. Her other achievement the same year was her second book co-written with her mother A Mother’s Gift.
Britney also released her third album Britney and was ranked position one on the Billboard 200 selling more than 12 million copies across the globe. Critics pointed that the new album had deepened Britney’s persona and she sounded like a star who had now refined her voice to be more adult like. The album received a Grammy nomination for the Best Pop Vocal Album while the Overprotected single in the album was honored with the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Other singles in Britney included I’m a Slave 4 U, I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman, I Love Rock n Roll, Anticipating and Boys. Her Dream Within a Dream Tour to promote the album was one of the most successful tours in 2002, fetching $43.7 million. It was recognized by Forbes in 2002 and she was named the most powerful celebrity in the world.
In 2002, Spears gained entry into Hollywood. She took a leading role in the movie Crossroads which was a coming–of-age drama. Although the film received a lot of criticism, it fetched more than $60 million yet it was made on a budget of less than 11 million dollars.
Her fourth studio album, In The Zone was a dream come true for Britney. Her all time idol, Madonna vocalized the Me Against The Music track. The best performing single in the album was Toxic which won the young star her first Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.
In 2004, she compiled her greatest hits over the years and a hit version of Bobby Brown’s My Prerogative to create the album Greatest Hits: My Prerogative. Although the album was a success, it did not out do In The Zone
Considering her sales were declining, she embarked on her first remix album title ‘B in the mix’, the album sold one million copies that year. The following year, she released yet another album Blackout and was a better success from the previous two albums. Being a great hit, she not only performed at MTV VMAS but also won Album of the Year at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Determined to bring back her good sales, she released a sixth album titled Circus in 2008. The album was an instant hit and she became the youngest female artist with five albums on position one in the Guinness Book of Records.
Britney took it easy the following years as she had been going through tough times in her family and relationships. Femme Fatale was her seventh album released in 2011 and like most of her works it performed extremely well and was promoted through Femme Fatale tour. The two most remarkable hits in the album were I Wanna Go and Till The World Ends.
In 2013, she released the album Britney Jean which according to her was the most personal she ever recorded. The lead song was Work B**ch while other tracks included Allen, Perfume and Passenger.
In 2015, together with rap star Iggy Azalea, she released Pretty Girls which did not perform quite as well as it was ranked number 29 in the Billboard Music Awards.
She then released her ninth album Glory in 2016 with the lead song Make Me. The determined songtress has also announced her upcoming album in 2017.
Having brought to life teen pop in USA and conquering the music market with multi-million selling albums, Britney is undoubtedly one of the rarest successful artists. Britney is also a great advocate for philanthropy and charity. She founded The Britney Spears Foundation with the aim of helping children in need across the globe. Although the entity was closed in 2011, Spears has made huge donations to St. Bernard Project, Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation among others. However, her life has for a long while been termed controversial especially in the public eye.
Spears rose to fame at a very young age and most people saw her as a role model for teenage girls. Parents also became her greatest fan as she always preached and advocated for abstinence until marriage. Her public image however took a different twist after she changed her outfits to more provocative attires.
In April 1999, Britney was featured as the Rolling Stone Magazine cover lying on her bed in a bra, shorts and an open top. She cover was hugely criticized by the American Family Association as they termed it a mix of childhood innocence and adult sexuality. Spears however came strong and defended herself saying that there was no big deal with the cover as she still had strong morals.
In the music video Baby One More Time, parents were especially concerned of her racy outfit and the impression she was giving her fellow teenage role models. Nevertheless, Britney refuted the criticism citing that she was still the sweet and innocent girl at heart. A similar case happened in 2007 MTV VMAs when she performed the song Gimme More. Britney wore a black jeweled-encrusted bikini that received sharp criticism and the worst wardrobe she ever had.
Her bravely exposed sexual appeal received further criticism after she kissed her idol Madonna on live stage at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. The act was seen to be more of dramatic presenting Britney’s growing sexualized persona.
Britney must be one of the few celebrities that have had a tough personal life full of uncountable struggles and challenges. Nevertheless, she has managed to remain strong for the sake of her family and career.
Spears love life started in 1999 when she was only 18-years old. She was involved with her fellow celebrity star in The Mickey Mouse Club series, Justin Timberlake. They however kept it a secret until 2000 when they publicly announced the relationship to the media. Unfortunately, the two broke up in 2002 with romors claiming that Spears cheated on Timberlake.
In January 2004, Britney married Jason Allen Alexander in Las Vegas. However, the incident shocked the world after the marriage was annulled 55 hours later in a court petition that stated that Britney lacked understanding of her actions.
In September 2014, Britney then became engaged to Kevin Federline after working for 3 months as a backup dancer for the talented artist. They were later officially married on October 6 2004 in a private wedding. In April 2005, Britney announced that she was pregnant with her first son who was later born and named Sean Preston.
However, Britney’s parenting were questioned after she was caught on camera driving with her infant son on the lap. She nevertheless apologized for his actions which had attracted a national debate. In September 2006, again Britney and Kevin announced the birth of their second son, Jayden James. Unfortunately, the newborn did not receive much attention from both parents as Britney filed for divorce later that year citing irreconcilable differences.
There were family struggles in 2007 as Britney and Kevin started fighting for the custody of their two sons. In the midst of the matter, Spears checked into a rehabilitation center and there were rumors that she was mentally troubled. As the year 2007 came to an end, Britney lost custody of her children.
After her divorce with Kevin Federline, Britney started dating paparazzo Adnan Ghalib but broke up a little while later. Another relationship ensued in 2009 between Spears and her agent Jason Trawick but similarly their affair ended after four years.
- Britney Spears’ Heart To Heart by Britney Spears
- A Mother’s Gift by Britney Spears