Christina Aguilera Said “Businessmen” Wanted to Change Her “Too Ethnic” Last Name
As evidenced by her 2002 hit “Fighter,” Christina Aguilera is simply not to be messed with. You know it, we know it, and, apparently, some industry dudes who tried to change the then-teenaged pop star’s last name know it, too. In a recent interview with Billboard, Aguilera spoke about this early experience with whitewashing, and why it was so important to her to defend her heritage.
“I remember when I was first coming up, there was a big debate around me on changing my last name because all the businessmen around me thought it was too long, too complicated, and too ethnic,” she said.
In place of that “too ethnic” last name, execs wanted to bestow the singer with something shorter, made up, and devoid of any racial or cultural associations whatsoever. Obviously, that did not go over well with Aguilera.
“‘Christina Agee’ was an option, but that clearly wasn’t going to fly,” Aguilera said.
“I was dead set against the idea and I wanted to represent who I really was. Being Latina, it is a part of my heritage and who I am,” she added.
At that point, Aguilera was no stranger to defending her name. As a child, she said, she was “asked to legally change my name to my stepfather’s to be legally adopted, and I was again dead set against it. I’ve been fighting for my last name my whole life.”
Aguilera was born in Staten Island, NY to an Ecuadorian father and a mother with German, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch ancestry. The singer has celebrated her Latina heritage throughout her career, beginning with her 2000 Spanish-language album Mi Reflejo, which included both Spanish-language covers of her previously recorded hits and original songs. That album, her second after her breakthrough self-titled debut, was an unmitigated success: It reached No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums and Latin Pop Albums charts, and it earned her a Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Album.
And she certainly doesn’t take that success for granted.
"It was a beautiful thing to experience success in different markets and have a diverse fan base that grew in appreciating who I am," Aguilera told Billboard. “My message, as in all my music, stands for being fearless to explore who you are. It's never too late to open a new door.
She added that it was “scary” to record a full album in Spanish, which isn’t her first language. But that language is still an authentic expression of who she was and continues to be: “It doesn’t erase who I am and how I want to express myself in all aspects of what intrigues and inspires me,” she said.
Almost a year ago, Aguilera announced that she had another Spanish-language album in the works, and she confirmed that plan with Billboard. But don’t expect any Spanish covers of her English-language hits—instead, she’ll be recording brand-new material.
“I am getting back to my roots and exploring who I am now as a grown woman who doesn’t have to cover my own English material in Spanish, but as a woman who can draw from my own personal experiences and express that with honesty,” she said. “Having survived decades in this business, I am proud to tell the truth about what that means to me.”