Spears and her manager joined with recording producer bigwig Lou Pearlman to join his female pop group Innosense. Still, she didn’t have a professional demo tape to pitch to record labels. Pearlman sent one of Toni Braxton’s unused songs, and she recorded her take, but three labels rejected her.
They wanted their singers to sound like the Spice Girls, and there was no market for solo artists. By not working with Pearlman, however, Spears got lucky. He was found guilty of being behind one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, as well as guilty of fraud and misrepresentation, getting him twenty-five years in prison, though he died before his sentence ended.
Something Like a Normal Life
Spears and her family spent three years filming "The Mickey Mouse Club" in Orlando, and when the show was canceled, they all moved back to Kentwood. After her taste of stardom, Spears led a pretty normal life. She re-enrolled in high school and played point guard on the basketball team.
Her father bought a gym, and the family all pitched in to keep it successful. Britney coordinated aerobics classes. She also got a part-time job at her great-grandmother's crawfish restaurant as a waitress. If there's one thing we know about Britney, it's that she knows how to work hard.
She Always Wanted More
During this period of her life, Spears was surviving, but she wasn't thriving. She knew she wanted more out of life than just working as a waitress, playing basketball, and going to prom. She had her eyes on the stars. Specifically, she wanted to try out professional singing.
Her mother, Lynne, was just as determined to get her daughter a good career, so she found Britney a manager to help her find singing jobs. A breakthrough came in June 1997, when an all-girl band asked Britney to join them. Yes, back in 1997, Britney was all but unknown.
After weeks of searching, Jive Records signed Britney, and she flew to their Cheiron Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, to record her debut album from March to April 1998. Remember, she recorded her debut album in early 1998.
After returning to the states, she went on a promotional tour of shopping malls for the album, bringing a four-song set and two backup dancers. She opened for *NSYNC a few times, reuniting with former "The Mickey Mouse Club" cast member Justin Timberlake. The two started seeing each other romantically and quickly became one of the era's hot tabloid couples.
Spears's debut album – "...Baby One More Time" – was released on January 12th, 1999. It shot to the top of the charts like nothing anybody has ever seen, debuting at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. After only a month, the Recording Industry Association of America certified it double platinum.
Fifteen different countries saw the album top the charts, and in just one year, it sold ten million copies. Thanks to the lead single, it became the best-selling album by a teenage artist ever. It's a record that still stands today.