Pop and Circumstance

updated 05/22/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/22/2000 01:00AM

I was looking for a name that was positive and familiar," says pop music's new It girl, Vitamin C, of her stage name. "Vitamin C is universally recognizable, and it's good for you."

Her smash hit "Graduation (Friends Forever)" might just become as ubiquitous as her flu-fighting moniker. "The song is about friendship and transition," says Vitamin C, 30. "When one door closes, another door opens." The ditty is in heavy rotation on the radio and MTV. Says New York City on-air personality Paul "Cubby" Bryant: "It's like Adam Sandler's 'Chanukah Song.' You'll be hearing 'Graduation' year after year. It's timeless."

Unlike her dye jobs. "My hair changes all the time," says the singer, who lives in New York City and is dating a musician. Indeed, she can't remember her natural hue. "I think it's kind of dirty-blondish-brown. I often have to color it myself on the road, and I've wrecked many a hotel room."

She was less destructive growing up in South Amboy and Old Bridge, N.J., the youngest of three children. Born Colleen Fitzpatrick to Gerard, a retired communications exec, and Vita, a legal secretary, she caught the entertainment bug early, dancing professionally in TV ads during high school. In 1991 she graduated from New York University, and after her group, Eve's Plum, disbanded in '95, she struck out on her own, signing a deal with Elektra three years later.

If it seems like the singer, who missed her senior prom for a dancing job, rushed through her wonder years, think again. On June 9, Vitamin C, who plans to begin touring nationally midsummer, will hit New Jersey's James Caldwell High School prom, where she is scheduled to perform. "I have to get a corsage and make sure the band has tuxes," she says. "And I better start looking for my date!"

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