“Pop Phenomenon” doesn’t come close to describing Britney Spears. The name is legend around the World. So famous is Britney Spears now that it’s impossible to imagine a World in which she doesn’t exist.
Britney Spears took America by storm on November 17, 1998 with her debut single “…Baby One More Time”, which smashed into the American Billboard charts at #1. Her debut album with the same title was released only a few weeks later also debuting at #1, making her the first ever female artist to have a simultaneous Billboard #1 single and album with a debut release. The impact was mirrored on charts throughout the world. Britney Spears had arrived on the music world in a very big way.


Britney Jean Spears was born at 1:30 A.M. on December 2, 1981 in a small town of Kentwood, Louisiana, – the sleepy town approximately one hour from New Orleans and situating near the Mississippi-Louisiana border.
Britney was born into an ordinary but cozy and comfortable middle-class home. Father Jamie Spears owned a health club for a time, mother Lynne worked as a school teacher.
When Lynne had been giving a birth to Britney, she was ecstactic that at last she had an “adorable baby girl to dress up like a doll”, because she had a son already. For her daughter she chose a popular name Brittany, but decided to spell it the way it sounded in a local southern drawl – Britney, which means “Little Britain”, in honor of Great Britain where Lynn’s parents Lillian Portell and Barney Bridges lived before immigration to U.S.A.
Right after the birth, baby Britney appeared in her first ever newspaper – “Kentwood News”. She was ‘Baby of The Week’ and according to that article, an “active, precious bundle of joy”.

Early Childhood

Kentwood (approximately 2500 residents) is a kind of place where people don’t lock their doors and say ‘Hi!’ to each other. Driving through the town here is what you will see: rolling hills, pine trees, cornfields, livestock and miles of wide open spaces. The neighbor’s mooing cow may be your alarm clock in the morning. This was the atmosphere where Britney has been growing.
Britney loved being a girl and she had a regular childhood. From an early age she collected dolls, she loved frilly clothes and get into her mother’s make-up. She was a truly sweet and loveable baby who showed sings of her future career almost from the day she was born. Since the day she could walk, she loved to perform in front of the people. She could dance and sing without stop – she sang in the car, in a yard, in a kitchen. But most of all she loved singing in a bathtub, because the acoustics were amazing. And once she got started singing, she couldn’t stop. She liked to line up all her dolls and toys in the bathroom and performed for an admiring ‘audience’ with a bottle of shampoo, serving her as her microphone. She sang along to Madonna, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey – that’s where her vocal training came from. She also used to stand in front of a big mirror and pretend she was a superstar.
Britney Spears was only two years old when she had her first ever dance lesson in Kentwood. She began taking dance lessons at Renee Donowar’s dance school. Miss Renee spotted right away that the girl had something special. Donewar said that Britney was clearly miles ahead of other kids, in both talent and ambition. She was a real leader. She even won a “Best Attendance” award, because she never missed her lessons.
By the time she was three years old, Britney was not only taking dance classes, but gymnastics as well, but Britney’s family never seriously thought about her singing seriously. But it was one day when she was jumping on a trampoline in the back yard and singing some song. When her mother walked by, she stopped and listened to it. The she took her daughter inside the house and asked to sing for father and older brother Brian and they were surprised. At the same day she took Britney to gymnastics class where asked Britney to sing for her teacher, Miss Gigi. By the end of the day it was clear that Britney was more than a regular child – she was a future star.
After that mother has registered her in the junior choir where she sang every weekend when her family attended church. Britney’s first public solo singing performance came soon after, when she was only 4 years old. At her kindergarten graduation ceremony she sang in front of the choir at the Kentwood Baptist Church. The first song Britney Spears ever sang in public was a Christian song “What Child Is This?” She was so nervous that she sang the entire song with her head cocked to one side. But she needn’t have worried – the crowd loved it.
Over the next few years Lynne started bringing Britney to various local talent competitions. When she was about 6 years old her mother decided to try some beauty pageant competition, but she entered only one. Lynne swore she would never let Britney enter another one, because she saw some cruelty – all mothers were telling daughters that appearance was the most important thing in the world. So Britney never tried herself in another one.
At the age of 6 Britney won some talent contest at the “Kentwood Dairy Festival”, singing and dancing with a top hat and cane. This gave her the privilege of riding on the back of a convertible in the town parade, wearing their dance costume and waving to the crowd. Soon after she won the “Miss Talent Central States Competition” in Baton Rouge. There she performed, sang, danced and showed off her gymnastic abilities to the song “I’m a Brass Band”. She was the overall winner for all categories -ages 7-9 and ages 3-11.

Primary School

With all that business Britney studied as well. Being a teacher herself, Lynne Spears knew the importance of a quality education, and that’s what she wanted for her children.
“Parklane Academy” is a private Christian school in McComb, Mississippi – 25 miles north of Kentwood. It was a place where Britney had been receiving her education from the age of six to fifteen.
At “Parklane Academy” Britney entered into the spirit of the school musical ”Give Thanks America”.
In the third grade she sang a solo “Lavender’s Blue”. As her teacher said, her voice was so much more mature than the others children’s voices of her age.
There was one event at her school in which Britney would sing the national anthem every year. At Grandparents Day she sang “Star Spangled Banner” with such power that some people in the audience thought she was pantomiming.
At school Britney also performed at fundraisers, where she performed 4 songs, one of which was a duet with some other girl – “Love Can Build a Bridge”.
By the age of 7 Britney started to shine in gymnastics. She won her level at Louisiana State gymnastics meet and her teacher recommended to find another coach. Later the lessons become much stricter. She took lessons five times a week with Bela Karolyi – the most successful coach in the history of gymnastics. There was one day when Britney decided to stop her lessons, because it was not for having fun, it was just a ruthless sport. Britney wanted to have fun performing on stage.

Time to Entertain

Once a girl from dance class told Britney that there was an audition for “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” in Atlanta, Georgia. Britney really wanted to try herself in it, but she had no idea what to expect, but being on TV sounded like the coolest job in the world. She was just 8 years old at that time. More than two thousand of children came to Atlanta to for auditions. Cast producers wanted kids with extraordinary talent. And that day has changed her life forever.
Britney had just little time to impress the chief of casting, Matt Casella. She sang “Sweet Georgia Brown” with flipping, acting, jumping and dancing. From the start Matt knew Britney had that extraordinary talent. The casting director told her that even though she displayed a good deal of talent and stage presence, they felt she was still too young to be in the show. However Matt Casella helped Lynne Spears to contact a well-known New York agent Nancy Carson.
Nancy suggested Lynne to send some material with Britney to her office. Jamie Spears wrote a letter about his daughter and included videos with some songs performed by Britney. She sang an old song “Shine on Harvest Moon” and Nancy noticed right from the start that it wasn’t something a child of this age was taught. Britney also sang some classic songs “Cry”, “Somebody Loves Me” and that song she performed on Kentwood Dairy Festival. Nancy decided to meet Britney in her family in New York to speak about little girl’s future and she suggested Britney to stay in New York for the summer and take some vocal classes.

Hello, Broadway!

New York actually became Britney’s second home for a while. Next three summers she studied at the “Professional Performing Arts School” (PPAS). That school was just like all the others public schools, but once you entered inside, the halls were filled with music. Britney also took dance classes at the Broadway Dance Center.
During that summers Britney appeared in some commercials, including that barbecue sauce “Maull It”, “Bell South Communications” and appeared in comedy show “Candid Camera”. Soon after Britney auditioned for an Off Broadway musical “Ruthless!”, a dark comedy based on the 1956 movie “The Bad Seed”, in 1991 she got a role of Tina Denmark – an evil child with stars in her eyes and murder on her tiny mind, and only rival’s violent death could pacify her. It was the first Britney’s acting role. She had to learn every line by heart to be prepared for performing. Britney recalls it was a lot of fun playing the part of an evil child who fools everyone into thinking that she is sweet.
With this full schedule Britney missed her home, friends and family. The play got a little boring for her – touring across the country and doing the same singing and dancing every night. She had to perform on Christmas and it upset her, because she wanted to be home and spend holidays with her family. And that was what she did. She left “Ruthless!” and went back to Kentwood after 6 months in the play.

Victories & Defeats

Back in Kentwood Britney continued to enter talent competitions.
In spring of 1992 Britney entered the “Miss Talent USA” contest held in Louisiana. There she won and returned home with the 58-inch trophy and 1000$ check. “The Kentwood News Ledger” reported that Britney Spears was crowned “Miss Talent USA”. At the competition she sang “There, I’ve Said That” and competed with 17 other children from around the country.
In April 1992 Britney and her mother flew to Los Angeles for the popular talent show called “Star Search”. The show broadcasted on TV and celebrity judges rated the performance with the stars – if you have more stars, you will become the champion. Each time you win you return to the show with a different song and number. Britney won the first round. She sang a classic Julie Garland song “I Don’t Care”. For the final contest “Star Search” insisted Britney to perform the Naomi Judd song “Love Can Build a Bridge”. That song wasn’t right for Britney. It was for a real grown woman, not for a child. However agent Nancy begged show producers to change that number they refused. Britney did her best, but she had lost to the boy whom she knew from the Professional Performing Arts School. She got off-stage and started crying, her heart was broken.