In 2001, she released her third studio album Britney and expanded her brand, playing the starring role in the film Crossroads. She assumed creative control of her fourth studio album, In the Zone released in 2003, which yielded chart-topping singles "Me Against the Music", "Toxic" and "Everytime". After the release of two compilation albums, Spears experienced personal struggles and her career went under hiatus. Her fifth studio album, Blackout, was released in 2007 and despite receiving little promotion, it spawned hits "Gimme More" and "Piece of Me". In 2008, her erratic behaviour and hospitalizations caused her to be placed in a conservatorship. The same year, her sixth studio album Circus was released, with the global chart-topping lead single "Womanizer". After embarking on The Circus Starring Britney Spears, she released greatest hits The Singles Collection, which featured U.S. and Canadian number-one single "3".
Spears has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists in the history of contemporary music. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the eighth top-selling female artist in the United States, with 32 million certified albums. Spears is also recognized as the best-selling female artist of the first decade of the 21st century, as well as the fifth overall. She was ranked the 8th Artist of the 2000–10 decade by Billboard. In June 2010, Spears was ranked sixth on Forbes list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world; she is also the third most mentioned musician in the world.
1981–97: Early life and career beginnings
Jean Spears was born on December 2, 1981, the second child of Lynne
Irene (née Bridges) and James Parnell Spears. She is of English heritage
through her maternal grandmother, who was born in London, and of
distant Maltese descent. Her siblings are Bryan James and Jamie Lynn. At
age three, she started to attend dance lessons in her hometown of
Kentwood, Louisiana, and was selected to perform a solo at the annual
recital. During her childhood, she also attended gymnastics and voice
lessons, and won many state-level competitions and children's talent
shows. Spears made her local stage debut at age five, singing "What
Child Is This?" at her kindergarten graduation. She said about her
ambition as a child, "I was in my own world, [...] I found out what I'm
supposed to do at an early age". At age eight, Spears and her mother
Lynne traveled to Atlanta for an audition in the 1990s revival of The
Mickey Mouse Club. Casting director Matt Cassella rejected her for being
too young to join the series at the time, but introduced her to Nancy
Carson, a New York City talent agent. Carson was impressed with Spears's
vocals and suggested enrolling her at the Professional Performing Arts
School; shortly after, Lynne and her daughters moved to a sublet
apartment in New York. Spears was hired for her first professional role,
as the understudy for the lead role of Tina Denmark in the Off-Broadway
musical Ruthless!. She also appeared as a contestant on the popular
television show Star Search, as well as being cast in a number of
commercials. In December 1992, she was finally cast in The Mickey Mouse
Club, but returned to Kentwood after the show was cancelled. She
enrolled at Parklane Academy in nearby McComb, Mississippi. Although she
made friends with most of her classmates, she compared the school to
"the opening scene in Clueless with all the cliques. [...] I was so
bored. I was the point guard on the basketball team. I had my boyfriend,
and I went to homecoming and Christmas formal. But I wanted more."
In June 1997, Spears was in talks with manager Lou Pearlman to join
female pop group Innosense. Lynne asked family friend and entertainment
lawyer Larry Rudolph for his opinion and submitted a tape of Spears
singing over a Whitney Houston karaoke song along with some pictures.
Rudolph decided he wanted to pitch her to record labels, therefore she
needed a professional demo. He sent Spears an unused song from Toni
Braxton; she rehearsed for a week and recorded her vocals in a studio
with a sound engineer. Spears travelled to New York with the demo and
met with executives from four labels, returning to Kentwood the same
day. Three of the labels rejected her, arguing audiences wanted pop
bands such as The Backstreet Boys and The Spice Girls, and "there wasn't
going to be another Madonna, another Debbie Gibson, or another
Tiffany." Two weeks later, executives from Jive Records returned calls
to Rudolph. Senior vice president of A&R Jeff Fenster stated
about Spears's audition that "It's very rare to hear someone that age
who can deliver emotional content and commercial appeal. [...] For any
artist, the motivation—the 'eye of the tiger'— is extremely important.
And Britney had that." They appointed her to work with producer Eric
Foster White for a month, who reportedly shaped her voice from "lower
and less poppy" delivery to "distinctively, unmistakably Britney."
After hearing the recorded material, president Clive Calder ordered a
full album. Spears had originally envisioned "Sheryl Crow music, but
younger more adult contemporary" but felt alright with her label's
appointment of producers, since "It made more sense to go pop, because I
can dance to it—it's more me." She flew to Cheiron Studios in
Stockholm, Sweden, where half of the album was recorded from March to
April 1998, with producers Max Martin, Denniz PoP and Rami, among
998–2000: ...Baby One More Time and Oops!... I Did It AgainAfter Spears returned to the United States, Spears embarked on a shopping mall promotional tour to promote her forthcoming album. Her show was a four song set and she was accompanied by two back up dancers. Her first concert tour followed, as an opening act for 'N Sync. Her debut album, ...Baby One More Time, was released on January 1999. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was certified two-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America after a month. Worldwide, the album topped the charts in fifteen countries and sold over ten million copies in a year. It became the biggest selling album ever by a teenage artist. The title track was released as the lead single from the album. Originally, Jive Records wanted its music video to be animated; however, Spears rejected it, and suggested the final idea of a Catholic schoolgirl. The single sold 500,000 copies on its first day, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the chart for two consecutive weeks. "...Baby One More Time" later received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The title track also topped the singles chart for two weeks in the United Kingdom, and became the fastest-selling single ever by a female artist, shipping over 460,000 copies. It would later become the 25th most successful song of all time in British chart history. Spears is also the youngest female artist to have a million seller in the country. "(You Drive Me) Crazy" was released as the third single from the album. It became a top-ten hit worldwide and propelled ...Baby One More Time to sell 26 million copies. The April 1999 cover of Rolling Stone featured Spears laying on her bed, clad with a bra, shorts and an open top. The American Family Association (AFA) referred to the shoot as "a disturbing mix of childhood innocence and adult sexuality" and called to "God-loving Americans to boycott stores selling Britney's albums." Spears responded to the outcry commenting, "What's the big deal? I have strong morals. [...] I'd do it again. I thought the pictures were fine. And I was tired of being compared to Debbie Gibson and all of this bubblegum pop all the time." Shortly before, Spears had announced publicly she would remain a virgin until marriage.
On June 28, 1999, Spears began her first headlining ...Baby One More Time Tour in North America, which was positively received by critics, but generated some controversy due to her racy outfits. An extension of the tour, titled Crazy 2k, followed in March 2000. Spears premiered songs from her upcoming second album during the show. Oops!... I Did It Again, her second studio album, was released in May 2000. It debuted at number one in the US, selling 1,3 million copies, breaking the SoundScan record for the highest debut sales by any solo artist. The album sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said that "the great thing about Oops! – under the cheese surface, Britney's demand for satisfaction is complex, fierce and downright scary, making her a true child of rock & roll tradition." The album's lead single, "Oops!... I Did It Again", peaked at the top of the charts in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and many other European nations. The album as well as the title track received Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, respectively. The same year, Spears embarked on the Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour, which grossed $40.5 million; she also released her first book, Britney Spears' Heart-to-Heart, co-written with her mother. On September 7, 2000, Spears performed at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. Halfway through the performance, she ripped of her black suit to reveal a sequined flesh-colored bodysuit, followed by heavy dance routine. It is noted by critics as the moment that Spears showed signs of becoming a more provocative performer. Amidst media speculation, Spears confirmed she was dating 'N Sync member Justin Timberlake.
Source : Wikipedia