Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and actress Christina Aguilera has taken on the role of mentor. The 30-year-old joins Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton on the panel of NBC's new talent show for aspiring singers "The Voice." Since she was a child in Wexford, she has navigated the fame game, competing on "Star Search" and as a member of "The Mickey Mouse Club." Her experience on and off the stage is what she shares with the show's contestants.

She and ex-husband Jordan Bratman have a son, 3-year-old Max. "The Voice" airs 10 p.m. Tuesday.

As a team leader on "The Voice" you see people desperate to be recognized for their talent to finally make it. Was it a little different for you since you started so young?
Well, I wouldn't quite say that. It's been a long road. I mean when you start at 6 years old, even that young, you know I kind of had this goal and aspiration to make a record and become a recording artist. Ten years later, I am making that record and that dream finally comes true, but it's a whole other thing to make it. Of course, you have your naysayers along the way, but it almost gives you that much more desire and passion and drive to go for what you want. That's what's so great about this show. You get to be that mentor for these people and be a part of their journey and hopefully start their journey. The great thing I love about the people on the panel is we all have massive tour experience and a lot of experience on stage. We know the ups and the downs and the things that can go wrong. I always say I wish there was a show like this when I was first starting. You get so much great advice up front.
All these contestants want stardom, but life changes once it's achieved. How did you learn to deal with the white hot spotlight?
I think certain people are just meant to do certain things. Since I was little, obviously, I had this specific focus and specific goal. Sort of the fact that I had been on "Star Search" when I was little and on the "Mickey Mouse Club," having that background sometimes gives you a little bit of a head start in knowing what it feels like to have all eyes on you. I sort of grew up with a little taste of that. But yes, on a wide spectrum it can be really crazy and make you feel really vulnerable. That's why sometimes when you are in this business it's easy to, especially when you are female and you are starting out so young, to be susceptible to sharks. Growing up so fast in this business [you] put up certain walls and certain guards to protect yourself. It's what you have to do. You learn the hard way early on. It has its ups and downs. It definitely has its perks, but you have to really want it. It's one thing to talk about "Oh I want to be famous," but there's a lot of work, a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication and travel and exhaustion that goes along with it. It's nice, too, that I get to come from that place of, "Hey I've had some rocky times and good times." Any successful person in this business will tell you everyone has their moments of highs and lows. You've got to roll with the punches. That's why before you even start this dream you have to know inside you have what it takes -- to be cut out for the hard work. It's a whole different thing when it actually starts happening and you start getting involved in this whirlwind.
Do you believe in destiny?
I do, I believe everything happens for a reason, for sure. What I love about this show's concept, [is] it brings it right down to the voice. There are certain people for sure that when we turn our chair around and we see them it is definitely not what we expected or pictured in our heads. That's the beauty of what the show is about. It is a chance to take music back to its original form, before music videos, marketing and strategy and things like that. ... It's about getting down to the nitty-gritty when you had your Billie Holidays and Nina Simones and you really didn't have an opportunity to constantly get in touch with what they are doing or tweeting and all this stuff. [laughs] You literally had to go by what they sounded like. That's what I Ioved about those first couple of episodes of the blind auditions. I think I was more nervous than the contestants. You hear their footsteps and you have no idea who is about to perform. You know that they're nervous and everything is dead quiet.
Tell me about the nerves. Do you have to wait for an audience reaction for them to subside?
Oh no, I've performed for great audiences and more dull audiences. I mean it's just gonna happen within the course of touring and your career. The most fun crowds are obviously the ones that really reciprocate what you're doing and receive you and give you that love back. But I've worked for really quiet rooms before. You know, Japanese audiences are typically quieter. Sometimes it's just based on culture. You still find it within yourself to be the performer that you are. And, yeah, before I hit that stage I think it's natural to have nerves. I get really, really super nervous, but I think that's part of the build-up, the butterflies and what gives you that momentum to get on that stage and do what you love to do best. Once I'm out there, you sort of lose yourself in the moment. Or try to anyway, based on the emotion of what you're doing.
Do you get lost in the lyrics or is it more the melody?
It can be anything given the time or the place and the place in your own mind, you know? Certain thoughts running through your head. My grandma was pretty much my mentor and the one who coached me. She always said, "You've got to lose yourself and find that moment in what you are doing and get passionately involved with it. Just lose yourself." I love that. Of course there's a level of sometimes losing yourself too much. I've had my high heel get caught in a fishnet as I'm coming off a stair on stage. [laughing] It's like what do you do then? I plopped on the floor, put my hands up in the air and said "Hey what can you do?" and I got on with my song. That's what you've got to do -- roll with it.
So you can't be an emotionally fragile person and be in show business?
I think the most fragile people are actually drawn to this business. Creative people, I think, are exceptionally sensitive. What it boils down to is you love to do what you do so much. You love the stage and you love just giving to an audience and feeling those good moments that outweighs any of the bad -- all of the bad -- because you have such a love for it. I think it's survival of the fittest as far as where your head space is in how determined and driven you are. I definitely had a fire instilled in me since I was really young.
Was it your grandmother who said, "Hey, she's got a voice!"
She actually was, she was the one who took it more seriously and definitely wanted me to be able to share what I love to do. I would sing to myself all the time, but she was the one who was like, "Hey maybe we should let her start performing." I started doing things for fun as a kid, like pool parties and then graduated to weddings and things like that. She was just an amazing woman and truly supportive and proud. She would drag anyone off the street to come listen to her granddaughter sing.
You came from a modest background, so was it a challenge to adjust to the wealth that comes with fame?
[Laughing.] I mean there are definite perks. You know, my mom always did teach me to stay pretty grounded -- to never take anything for granted. The minute that you do it could all be taken away from you. You know some things are more successful than others. Everyone has that moment no matter what business you are in, no matter what you're doing. Would I say it was difficult to adjust? You are just playing with bigger chips, but we all have the same sort of problems. I think the biggest thing to adjust to is the people that end up changing around you because of the money. And the people that come out of the woodwork and all of a sudden you start feeling like people are around you for the wrong reasons because they want something from you. It's sad. It's a sad adjustment and realization to feel the people around you, who you thought you could trust, sort of change a little bit. But other than that it's been great. I get to support [my mother] and make sure that she is very well taken care of and to help my family, to help people around me whenever I need to. And to buy the right pair of shoes and handbag when I want to is pretty nice, as well. [laughing]

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