Britney Jean Spears was born on December 2, 1981. She is 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 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.
Following her debut, Spears was credited with leading the revival of teen pop in the late 1990s. Rolling Stone wrote: "Britney Spears carries on the classic archetype of the rock & roll teen queen, the dungaree doll, the angel baby who just has to make a scene." Following the release of her debut album, Chuck Taylor of Billboard observed, "Spears has become a consummate performer, with snappy dance moves, a clearly real-albeit young-and funkdified voice ... "(You Drive Me) Crazy", her third single ... demonstrates Spears's own development, proving that the 17-year-old is finding her own vocal personality after so many months of steadfast practice."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic referred to her music as a "blend of infectious, rap-inflected dance-pop and smooth balladry." Spears later commented, "With ...Baby One More Time, I didn't get to show my voice off. The songs were great, but they weren't very challenging"
Spears has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists in the history of contemporary music. 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.
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