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Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter: Upside Down

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By Brian Hurwitz

Unwilling to let his older brother steal the spotlight, this former teen heartthrob used his natural talent and magnetism to take the pop and hip-hip music worlds by storm before a number of personal and professional setbacks threatened to derail his career. Refusing to give up on himself, Carter embraced his missteps and used the strength the experience gave him to forge a new path to success.

Carter’s love of music was always his guiding light. He’s been writing his own songs since he was a child and many of his recordings were used on the soundtracks for several films and television shows. With four albums to his credit by the time he was just fifteen years old, it took Carter more than twice that amount of time to release his fifth. As of late, with so much attention being paid to his problems, let's focus on his success.

Older Brother's Shadow

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The youngest child of Jane Elizabeth and Robert Gene, Aaron Carter and his twin sister, Angel, were born on December 7th, 1987 in Tampa, Florida. His parents ran a retirement home and were very involved in their community. As a result, the Carter kids were well known in their middle class neighborhood and neither Aaron nor his older brother, Nick, were shy about their musical aspirations. When Nick was chosen as a member of the newly formed pop vocal group The Backstreet Boys in 1993, six-year old Aaron was inspired to form his own band while attending Frank D. Miles Elementary School. At seven, Carter became the lead singer of The Dead End, a group composed of his fellow classmates. Together, they wrote their own music and performed wherever they could. But after two years Carter left the band owing to the fact that he wanted to focus on pop and his bandmates preferred alternative rock.

Coming Into His Own

Aaron Carter
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Setting out on his own, Carter dedicated all his spare time to singing and songwriting. Then, in March of 1997, Nick was on tour with The Backstreet Boys and arranged for Aaron to open for them in Berlin. There, Carter made his professional debut singing The Jets’ Crush on You for tens of thousands of screaming fans. His performance was well received and a recording contract quickly followed. In the fall, Carter released the song that had established him, Crush on You, as his first single. And on December 1st, his first studio album, Aaron Carter, was released in Europe by Edel America and Trans Continental Records. Certified gold in half a dozen countries, it was released in the United States during the summer of 1998.

Carter’s second studio album, Aaron’s Party(Come Get It), was released by Jive Records in the fall of 2000. The eponymous single, along with I Want Candy, That’s How I Beat Shaq and Bounce were regularly played on radio stations and their accompanying videos were frequently rotated on MTV, BET, VH1 and Nickelodeon. Carter made appearances on the latter to promote the album and was the opening act for several of Britney Spears’s and The Backstreet Boys’ concerts. By Christmas, Aaron’s Party was certified platinum and went on to sell over three million copies.

Spreading His Wings

Aaron Carter
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2001 proved to be a banner year for Carter, who made his acting debut on an episode of the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire. Then, he was cast on the ABC family comedy Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. Although he played himself in both shows, the experiences motivated Carter to further explore the dramatic arts and resulted in him making his Broadway debut that spring in Seussical the Musical. In August, Jive Records released Carter’s third studio album, Oh, Aaron. The title song marked Carter’s first duet with his brother, Nick, and was certified platinum before the end of the year. Perhaps even more noteworthy was the Aaron Carter action figure created by Play Along Toys to coincide with the album’s release.

Carter’s final collaboration with Jive Records and his fourth studio album, Another Earthquake! was released in the fall of 2002. It peaked at number 18 on the Billboard 200, failing to find the same audience that delighted in his previous efforts. The patriotic themes of two of its songs, America A.O. and Do You Remember, led to him singing the theme song for the PBS animated show Liberty Kids, as well as Carter voicing a character on an episode. He also guest starred on episodes of the family comedy Family Affair and the family dramedy Seventh Heaven. Making his feature film debut with a small part in the comedy Fat Albert, Carter starred in the direct-to-video Pop Star, based on his own life, and put his real-life motocross skills to work in the action drama Supercross.

Controversies

Aaron Carter
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Simultaneously, Carter found himself embroiled in a legal battle with his former manager and record executive, Lou Pearlman. Alleging Pearlman had failed to pay Carter hundred of thousands of dollars in royalties, it was later revealed that Pearlman was a con artist who, despite having managed The Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, ran one of the largest and longest running Ponzi schemes in history. Carter’s money was never recouped and, in no small part, contributed to him entering rehab in 2011 to deal with unresolved mental and emotional issues. Then, in 2013, it was revealed Carter was $3.5 million in debt, forcing him to file for bankruptcy. Opting to face his problems rather than run from them, Carter settled his debts and got right back to making music.

In the summer of 2014, he went on a Canadian tour and performed songs from his upcoming and unnamed studio album. He then embarked on a 50-city worldwide tour from 2014-2015 entitled Wonderful World Tour, occasionally dropping singles from his fifth studio album until it was finally released by Sony Music in early 2018 and titled LOVE.

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