Pharrell, Clay Aiken, Skillet, Laura Pausini

Pharrell

Pharrell is the stage name of Pharrell Williams. He was born April 5, 1973 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was born eldest of three sons to Carolyn, a teacher, and Pharoah Williams, a handyman. He met Chad Hugo in a seventh grade summer band camp where Pharrell played the keyboards and drums and Hugo played tenor saxophone. They were also both members of a marching band; Pharrell played the snare drum while Chad took the role of student conductor. In the 1990s, Hugo and Williams formed a 4-piece “R&B type” group along with friends Shay Haley and Mike Etheridge, which they named The Neptunes. They later entered a high school talent show where they were discovered by Teddy Riley, whose studio is next to Princess Anne High School. After graduating from high school, they signed with Riley as a group. In 2006, Pharrell released his debut album, In My Mind. The album debuted at #3 and sold 142,000 copies in the first week. Pharrell met Nigo, a Japanese record producer and creator of the clothing line A Bathing Ape, in Japan and bonded through similar interests, where they began working together on their fashion lines. Williams later co-founded the clothing brands Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Footwear.

Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on November 30, 1978. As a young boy, Aiken sang in the Raleigh Boy choir, and as a teenager, he sang in school choirs, church choirs, musicals and local theatre productions. Aiken had filled out an application to participate in the reality show Amazing Race when a friend of his insisted that he try out for American Idol instead. Aiken made it to the round of 32 before being cut from the show, but he was invited to return for the “Wild Card” round; his performance of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” sent him on to the final 12 as the viewer’s choice. On May 21, 2003, Aiken came in a close second to Ruben Studdard. On October 14, 2003, Clay Aiken released his first solo album, “Measure of a Man”, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and was, with 613,000 copies sold in its first week, the highest-selling debut for a solo artist in 10 years, and to date the highest debut of any American Idol contestant. The album spawned both the hit single “Invisible” and his first hit song, “This Is the Night”. Clay Aiken has gone on to release four more studio albums.

Skillet

Skillet is an American Christian rock band, formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996. The band consists of John Cooper (lead vocalist, bassist), his wife Korey Cooper (guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist), Ben Kasica (guitarist), and the newest member Jen Ledger (drummer). On October 29,1996, Skillet released it’s self titled debut album. In 1998, they released their sophomore album Hey You, I Love Your Soul. Soon after the release of their third album, Invincible in early 2000, Trey McClurkin parted ways with Skillet, and Lori Peters filled the drummer’s position. Invincible would be Skillet’s best selling record thus far. The band released their first worship album, and fourth album overall, Ardent Worship in fall of 2000. With little time between touring and recording, Skillet released Alien Youth in 2001, which was the first album that John Cooper took on production duties. Skillet’s most recent album Comatose was released on October 3, 2006. The album spawned the singles “Rebirthing,” “Whispers In The Dark,” “Comatose,” “The Older I Get,” “Those Nights,” and “The Last Night”. The title of Skillet’s next studio album’s, Awake, was announced on April 17th 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is scheduled for release August 25. A recent magazine article states the album will contain 12 songs.

Laura Pausini

Laura Pausini was born and raised in the town of Solarolo, Ravenna in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna on May 16, 1974. She started to sing in local piano bars with her father Fabrizio, a musician and singer, when she was only eight years old. At the age of thirteen, Laura had her first recording experience with the album I sogni di Laura, a semi-professional release produced by her father in 1987. In 1993 her career was launched when she won the prestigious Italian Sanremo Music Festival with one of her best known songs, “La solitudine”. As a natural consequence, she signed a contract with Warner Music Italy to release her first professional album, Laura Pausini. Her second album, Laura, was released in 1994 and was such a big hit that her recording company offered her a deal to record in Spanish. At the end of 1994, Pausini released her first Spanish album, Laura Pausini, a compilation of ten adapted versions of hits from her first two Italian albums. The album was so successful that made her a household name in the Spanish speaking world. In 2006, Laura Pausini won the Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album for the album Resta in Ascolto.