Jennifer Love Hewitt
Child actress Jennifer Love Hewitt sought teen-pop stardom in the mid-1990s, a few years before the turn of the millennium teen queen rage. When she signed on for the popular Fox television series Party of Five in 1995, she also signed with Atlantic Records and released Let's Go Bang, a set of dance pop and light R&B that sold poorly. After a similar set the following year, Hewitt finally cracked the Billboard 200 with a more rock-oriented fourth album.
Born in Waco, Texas, on February 21, 1979, Jennifer Love Hewitt was still a toddler when she first began singing in front of audiences. By nine she was a member of a touring group called the Texas Show Team. The following year her mother moved her to Los Angeles where Hewitt quickly landed roles in TV commercials and the children's show Kids Incorporated. She was twelve in 1992 when she recorded her first album, Love Songs, released the following year in Japan only by the video-game company Meldac. The album included cover versions of pop hits ranging from ABBA's "Dancing Queen" to Michael Jackson's early single "Ben" and made Hewitt a pop star in Japan.
In the U.S., Hewitt continued pursuing acting appearing on several short-lived TV dramas and sitcoms between 1992 and 1995, when she landed her most famous role as Sarah Reeves on Party of Five. The show's success prompted Atlantic Records to sign Hewitt to a U.S. record deal. The company rushed her first single, "Couldn't Find Another Man," but neither it nor the album Let's Go Bang charted. As Hewitt's star continued to rise on TV, Atlantic released a second album Jennifer Love Hewitt the following year which also failed to chart.
Atlantic dropped Hewitt, and between 1996 and 2002 she refocused on acting, juggling her TV work with a string of films including the hugely successful 1997 horror flick, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and its sequel the following year. She also appeared in the 1998 teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait. She won three Teen Choice Awards in 1999, for TV Actress (Party of Five) and Movie Actress of the Year (I Still Know What You Did Last Summer) and Female Hottie of the Year. That year she also scored her first charting single, "How Do I Deal" (Number 59 Hot 100) from the soundtrack to I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. In 2000 Hewitt played the title role in the made-for-TV biopic The Audrey Hepburn Story, which she also co-produced. The following year she appeared alongside Sigourney Weaver in the romantic comedy Heartbreakers.
In 2002, she wrote and sang "I'm Gonna Love You" for the direct-to-DVD Disney sequel The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, in which she also appeared as the character Madellaine. That year, Hewitt signed with Jive Records and released her third U.S. album, BareNaked, for which she wrote several of the songs along with her producer-singer-songwriter Meredith Brooks (whose 1997 alternative-rock hit "Bitch" reached Number Two on the pop charts). Hewitt's new sound was similar to Brooks', and the album reached Number 37 on the Billboard 200. Its title song also reached the Top 40. Hewitt refocused on acting after the album's success, appearing in the TV fantasy/drama series Ghost Whisperer.