Anastacia

Born on September 17, 1973, to Broadway actress Diane Hurley and a Sinatra-style cabaret crooner, Robert Newkirk, blonde Chicago native Anastacia possesses the sort of powerfully expressive vocal chords more often associated with black R&B vocalists.

But it was on her mother's Barbra Streisand and Elton John discs that the diva first cut her teeth. "It isn't like I've wanted to be a singer all my life, it's more I grew up in an atmosphere of artistic expression," she told HELLO!. "My mother is my real foundation, the person to whom most credit is due."

After her parents' divorce, the 14-year-old schoolgirl moved to New York with her mother and began studying at the Professional Children's School in Manhattan, alongside such acting luminaries as Christian Slater and the late River Phoenix. As a teenager, she became a regular dancer at the 1018 Club where, one night, her moves on the podium prompted a producer to ask her whether her talent extended to singing, and her journey to fame began.

Although her first song One More Chance was a moderate hit, it failed to land Anastacia a recording deal. It was not until 1998, when she appeared on an MTV talent show, The Cut, that the diminutive singer was really in with a fighting chance. She made it to the final ten contestants and, although she did not win, managed to impress no less a talent than Michael Jackson with a rendition of her self-penned single, Not That Kind. The reclusive icon called her at home to tell her how great he thought her performance was.

She was finally signed by Epic records, and her debut album, titled after the track that had so impressed the king of pop, was released in June 2000. But Michael was not the only big name in music whose attention had been caught by Anastacia's powerhouse of a voice. Elton John's manager also called, to ask if she would like to sing with the British musician at his Madison Square Garden concert. As Elton was one of Anastacia's idols it didn't take her long to say yes.

No shrinking violet, the singer, who owns 20 pairs of her trademark spectacles, was chuffed when Dolce & Gabbana offered her their sartorial services. "I just cannot believe they want to start designing for me the way they do for Madonna," she enthused. "I just love their clothes!"

Anastacia became single again in 2001 after a seven-year relationship with actor Shawn Woods came to an end. Her second album, Freak Of Nature, was released in November that year and although it didn't enjoy the success of her first, the track One Day In Your Life topped the club charts. And then of course there was the 2002 World Cup song, Boom Boom, which gave her a similar fillip to Ricky Martin when he was chosen for the France '98 theme, La Copa De La Vida.

Since the age of 13, Anastacia has suffered from Crohn's disease, which causes a painful inflammation of the intestine. Open about her illness, she explains: "I have a big scar on my stomach, but I am lucky to be in the two or three per cent who are relatively healthy. I think I got it so young that I incorporated it into my way of living, enabling me to be stronger." In early 2003, however, Anastacia was dealt another blow to her health when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The star is in remission after the disease was caught in the early stages. She would later donate the proceeds of her single Heavy On My Heart to her Anastacia Fund that provides research funding for breast cancer. Despite her illness she headed back to the recording studio in September 2003 to record her third album, the self-titled Anastacia. Based on a fresh sound the feisty artist affectionately referred to as "Sprock music" - a mix of soul, pop and rock - the platinum-selling disc proved to be a smash hit and the sixth biggest selling album of 2004.The following year she released Pieces Of A Dream, a greatest hits collection that included four new tracks.

A break from the limelight followed as the star concentrated on her personal life. And happy times lay ahead for Anastacia - as she wed her longterm love bodyguard Wayne Newton in Mexico in 2007. That very same year she began to stage a comeback to the music biz - performing a rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Superstar as part of a medley section at the Concert For Diana the same year. At the same time she revealed she was working on a new album - set to drop in 2008 - and a clothing line.
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