Aguilera and her family move several times because of her father's military career and finally settle down in Wexford, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh. Her parents, Fausto Xavier Aguilera, an Ecuadorian immigrant who pursued a career in the U.S. Army, and Shelley Loraine Fidler, a professional violin and piano player, split up when she is 6. At one point Aguilera lives with her grandmother.
In her first television appearance, Aguilera sings Etta James' "A Sunday Kind of Love" on Star Search and earns a strong second-place showing.
Aguilera auditions for The New Mickey Mouse Club and becomes a Mouseketeer along with future pop stars Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez and Britney Spears, as well as actors Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell. After two seasons on the show, Aguilera decides to go her own way. She and her mother move to Japan, where she records the hit duet "All I Wanna Do" with Japanese pop star Keizo Nakanishi.
Aguilera returns to the U.S. and auditions to sing the song "Reflection" for the soundtrack to the animated movie Mulan. She nails the gig after belting out a high note. RCA Records signs her a week after she records the song. "I always wanted to have my own album recorded and released before I graduated high school," Aguilera says to PEOPLE.
Aguilera releases her self-titled debut album. With hit singles such as "Genie in a Bottle," which tops the charts for five weeks, and "What a Girl Wants," the album eventually hits No. 1 on the charts and sells more than 8 million copies. That December, she is invited to perform "The Christmas Song" at the White House for President Bill Clinton.
Aguilera performs during the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show, singing a duet with Enrique Iglesias. A few weeks at the 42nd annual Grammys, Aguilera is nominated for two awards. Although she loses in the Best Female Pop Vocal category, she scores a major upset over her bubblegum-pop rival Spears for Best New Artist.
Seeking a place in the Latin-pop explosion at the time, Aguilera records a Spanish-language album called Mi Reflejo. She learns the lyrics phonetically because she doesn't speak Spanish. The following year, she wins the award for the world's best-selling Latin female artist at the World Music Awards and performs her No. 1 worldwide hit "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely" with pop star Ricky Martin at the ceremony.
For her U.S. tour, Aguilera wears more revealing outfits that coincide with the new, more suggestive single "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" and the remake of Patti LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" for the film Moulin Rouge! starring Nicole Kidman. Aguilera joins forces with Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink for the song and video that features them dressed in over-the-top makeup and provocative outfits. That year, they take home a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration and an MTV award for Best Video.
Just before the release of her album Stripped, MTV premieres the music video for "Dirrty". Critics call it overly sexual, but Aguilera tells PEOPLE it is more about power and control. "I may have been the naked-ass girl in the video," she says, "but if you look at it carefully, I'm also at the forefront. I'm not just some lame chick in a rap video; I'm in the power position, in complete command of everything around me."
Stripped goes multiplatinum, selling more than 4 million copies, has two No. 1 hits ("Dirrty" and "Beautiful") and ushers in a new era for the singer. The album gets a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Album, and Aguilera wins her third Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance with her song "Beautiful."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Courtesy Christina Aguilera; Big Pictures; Everett; Splash News; Kevork Djansezian/AP; Dave Hogan/Getty; Kevin Mazur/WireImage; amazon.com