In 1999, Aguilera came to prominence following her debut album Christina Aguilera, which was a commercial success spawning three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100—"Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)." A Latin pop album, Mi Reflejo (2001), and several collaborations followed which garnered Aguilera worldwide success, though she was displeased with her lack of input in her music and image. After parting from her management, Aguilera took creative control over her second studio album, Stripped (2002).The album's second single, "Beautiful," was a commercial success and helped the album's commercial performance amidst controversy over Aguilera's image. Aguilera followed up Stripped with Back to Basics (2006), which was released to positive critical acclaim and included elements of soul, jazz, and blues music. Aguilera's fourth studio album Bionic (2010), which incorporated aspects of R&B, electropop, and synthpop, was met with mixed reviews and poor sales.
Life and career
1980–1998: Early life and career beginnings
1999–2001: Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo and new management
Under the exclusive representation of Steve Kurtz, Aguilera's self-titled debut album Christina Aguilera was released on August 24, 1999. It reached the top of the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts, selling eight million copies in the U.S. ] and over seventeen million copies worldwide. The album is also included in the Top 100 Albums of All Time list of The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) based on US sales. Released during the teen pop era of 1999 the album was well received by several critics, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic writes that Aguilera's debut "remains firmly within the teen-oriented dance-pop genre, but done right." Concluding that the album is "lightweight in the best possible sense -- breezy, fun, engaging, and enjoyable on each repeated listen. Out of the deluge of teen-pop albums in 1999, this feels like the best of the lot." Her debut single, "Genie in a Bottle" was an instant hit reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in several countries worldwide. Her follow-up singles "What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" topped the Hot 100 as well during 1999 and 2000 while "I Turn to You" reached number three. She is one of the few artists to have multiple #1 singles from a debut album in Billboard's history. She made a cameo appearance on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, performed on MTV's New Year's Special as MTV's first artist of the millennium, and the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show. At the 42nd Grammy Awards Aguilera received a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy nomination for "Genie in a Bottle" and despite earlier predictions, she won the award Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
In 2000, Aguilera began recording her first Spanish-language album with producer Rudy Pérez in Miami. Later in 2000, Aguilera, first emphasized her Latin heritage by releasing her first Spanish album, Mi Reflejo on September 12, 2000. This album contained Spanish versions of songs from her English debut as well as new Spanish tracks. Though some criticized Aguilera for trying to cash in on the Latin music boom at the time. According to Pérez, Aguilera was only semi-fluent, while recording. She understood the language, because she has grown up with her father, who is a native of Ecuador. He added "Her Latin roots are undeniable". The album peaked at number twenty-seven on the Billboard 200 and went number one on the Billboard Latin charts for a record 20 weeks. In 2001, it won Aguilera a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. The album went Gold in the U.S. She also won the World Music Award as the best selling Latin artist that year. Aguilera also released a Christmas album on October 24, 2000 called My Kind of Christmas. It peaked at number twenty-eight on the Billboard 200, and has been certified Platinum in the U.S.
Aguilera performing during her Sears & Levis Tour in 2000.
Ricky Martin asked Aguilera to duet with him on the track "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely" from his album Sound Loaded; released in 2001 as the album's second single. The single reached number one on the World Chart and top ten in several countries. In 2001, Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink were chosen to remake Labelle's 1975 single "Lady Marmalade" for the film Moulin Rouge! and its soundtrack. The song peaked at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks and was the most successful airplay-only single in history. It also reached number one in eleven other countries and earned all four performers a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Aguilera's appearance in the music video was compared to that of Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. The video won two MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year in 2001, where Aguilera accepted the award saying, "I guess the big hair paid off."
2002–04: New image, Stripped and musical hiatus
On October 29, 2002, Aguilera's second English studio album, Stripped, was released. The album sold more than 330,000 copies in the first week and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. Unlike her previous work, the album showcased Aguilera's raunchier side. The majority of Stripped was co-written by Aguilera (who had recently signed a global music publishing contract with BMG Music Publishing), and was influenced by many different subjects and music styles, including contemporary R&B, gospel, soul, balladry, pop rock, and hip hop. The majority of the album was produced by Scott Storch and singer-songwriter Linda Perry who produced her more personal records. Rockwilder and singer Alicia Keys also contributed a track each. Upon initial release, the album was very well-received by critics, although Aguilera's vocals were overlooked as she began to cultivate a more sexually provocative image. After the release of the album, she took part in photoshoots for magazines, many of these photographs featured her nude or semi-nude. Her cover for Rolling Stone, featured the singer only wearing boots and a well-placed electric guitar. It was during this time Aguilera referred to herself as "Xtina", even getting a tattoo of her nickname on the back of her neck and several piercings.
Aguilera performing during the Justified/Stripped Tour in 2003.
Aguilera joined Justin Timberlake that June on the final leg of his international Justified tour, held in the U.S. This portion of the tour became a co-headliner called the Justified/Stripped Tour. In August, an overhead lighting grid collapsed from the ceiling of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, causing major damage to the sound and video equipment below. Because the collapse occurred hours before the show, only a few stagehands were injured, but a few shows were cancelled or postponed. In the fourth quarter of that year, Aguilera continued to tour internationally without Timberlake, and changed the name of the tour to the Stripped World Tour. She also dyed her hair black. It was one of the top-grossing tours of that year, and sold out most of its venues. Rolling Stone readers named it the best tour of the year. That same year she hosted the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards and was a special guest performer with the Pussycat Dolls' dance troupe performing at the Roxy Theatre and Viper Room in Los Angeles. She also appeared on a Maxim spread alongside them, her second Maxim cover that year set record sales for the issue making it the top selling issue to date. By the end of the year she topped the annual Hot 100 list later saying, "We had fun working with certain clothes, or the lack thereof."
Aguilera later decided to embrace a more mature image; this move was met with more praise than criticism, with articles using punch lines such as "From Crass to Class." She eventually dyed her hair cherry blonde and recorded a jingle, "Hello", for a Mercedes-Benz ad. Shortly after, she dyed her hair flaxen blonde and cut it short, and took on a Marilyn Monroe look; she is one of the main proponents (along with Dita Von Teese, Gwen Stefani, and Ashley Judd) in bringing back the 1920s–1940s Hollywood glamour look. In late summer 2004, Aguilera released two singles. The first, "Car Wash", was a remake of the Rose Royce disco song recorded as a collaboration with rapper Missy Elliott for the soundtrack to the film Shark Tale. She voiced a small singing part in the film playing a Rastafarian jellyfish in the film's closing musical number. The second song was also a collaboration, but this time as a second single from one of Nelly's double-release albums, Sweat, titled "Tilt Ya Head Back". Both singles failed commercially in the U.S., but did considerably better in other parts of the world.
2005–07: Marriage, Back to Basics and motherhood
Aguilera performing during the Sanremo Story festival in 2006.
Aguilera's third English studio album, Back to Basics was released August 15, 2006. The album debuted at #1 in the US, the UK and eleven other countries. Aguilera described the double CD as "a throwback to the 20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz, blues, and feel-good soul music, but with a modern twist." The album received generally positive reviews, although many critics commented on the album's length saying, "At one disc, this would have been nothing short of masterful." A review in AllMusic adds, "Back to Basics also makes clear that Stripped was a necessary artistic move for Christina: she needed to get that out of her system in order to create her own style, one that is self-consciously stylized, stylish, and sexy." The critically acclaimed lead single "Ain't No Other Man" was a substantial success, reaching #2 on the World Chart, #6 in the U.S., and #2 in the UK. Producers on the album included DJ Premier, Kwamé, Linda Perry, and Mark Ronson. The follow-up singles did very well in different regions, "Hurt" in Europe and "Candyman" in the Pacific. She co-directed both music videos, the former with Floria Sigismondi who directed her "Fighter" video, and the latter, "Candyman", with director/photographer Matthew Rolston which was inspired by The Andrews Sisters. Back to Basics has sold 4.5 million units worldwide, with over 1.7 million sold in the US.
Aguilera confirmed she was pregnant on November 4, 2007, though Paris Hilton accidentally revealed her pregnancy several weeks prior during a party Aguilera hosted. She gave birth to her son, Max Liron Bratman, in Los Angeles, California early the following year and held a bris for Max Liron with Bratman, who is of Jewish descent, where he was circumcised in accordance with Jewish ritual. Aguilera was reportedly paid $1.5 million by People magazine for her baby pictures, which according to Forbes places fifth on the list of the most expensive celebrity baby photos.
2008–present: Greatest hits album, Bionic, Burlesque and personal struggles www.wdalaw.com
In 2008 Aguilera appeared in the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine a Light which chronicles a two day Rolling Stones concert in New York City's Beacon Theatre. The film features Aguilera performing "Live With Me" alongside Mick Jagger. Shine a Light premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was released worldwide on April 4, 2008. She also had brief cameo in the comedy film Get Him to the Greek, and appeared as a guest judge on the sixth season of Project Runway on Lifetime Television. She and designer Bob Mackie were the inspiration for the challenge in which they had to design a stage outfit for Aguilera. To commemorate Aguilera's ten years in the music industry, RCA Records released, Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits on November 11, 2008 exclusively at Target stores in the U.S. The greatest hits included her first three number one singles, and other songs released from her previous three albums. "Lady Marmalade" and several Spanish singles from Mi Reflejo were included in the worldwide releases. The album's only single, "Keeps Gettin' Better", was premiered at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, and debuted and peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, her highest debut on the chart. Following the greatest hits, she took over a year hiatus in 2009 working on her then upcoming album and film. Aguilera was one of Billboard's Top 20 Artists of the Decade in their year-end charts.
Aguilera's fourth English studio album, Bionic, was released on June 8, 2010. The album's producers included Tricky Stewart, Samuel Dixon, Polow da Don, Le Tigre, Switch, Ester Dean, songwriters Sam Endicott, Sia Furler, Claude Kelly, Linda Perry and collaborations with M.I.A., Santigold, Nicki Minaj, and Peaches. The album's only two singles, "Not Myself Tonight" and "You Lost Me" peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Charts but were unsuccessful elsewhere. Bionic's material consisted of many mainstream and pop records along with electronic and dance music. The album was released to mixed reviews from music critics, with Jon Pareles of The New York Times writing that the singer's new music direction "makes her sound as peer-pressured as a pop singer can be." Allison Stewart of The Washington Post described the album as being "noisy, robotic and overstuffed" and felt that one of the disc's
Aguilera's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Aguilera confirmed news reports that she and Bratman had separated, saying in a statement, "Although Jordan and I are separated, our commitment to our son Max remains as strong as ever." Aguilera filed for divorce from Bratman on October 14, 2010, seeking joint legal and physical custody of their son, and specifying September 11, 2010 as the date of separation. The following month she appeared as herself on the Entourage season seven finale as a client/friend of Ari Gold. On November 15, 2010, Aguilera received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Following the release of Burlesque, Aguilera collaborated with rapper T.I. on the track, "Castle Walls" which is included on his album No Mercy. Aguilera began dating musician and production assistant, Matt Rutler who both met during the filming of Burlesque. Her personal life was the subject of scrutiny and tabloid reports over out of control behavior, including a reported confrontation with her co-star Julianne Hough. She performed the national anthem during the Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 and created controversy when she omitted a line of the anthem and messed up the song's lyrics. Despite Christina Aguilera telling CNN that "I got so lost in the moment of the song that I lost my place", the mistake was linked to a vandalized edit on the Wikipedia article for 'The Star-Spangled Banner'.
Aguilera performing in her Back to Basics Tour in 2006.
Aguilera has been referred to as the "voice of her generation" and a blue eyed soul singer. Aguilera also topped COVE's list of the 100 Best Pop Vocalists with a score of 50/50 and came fifth in MTV's 22 Greatest Voices in Music. Her rendition of "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" at the 49th Grammy Awards ranked third in the Grammy's Greatest Moments List behind Celine Dion's performance of "My Heart Will Go On" and Green Day's performance of "American Idiot". In an interview, Dion described Aguilera as "probably the best vocalist in the world." Rolling Stone ranked Aguilera at 58 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, the youngest singer on the list.
Since her debut in 1999 Aguilera has been compared to the likes of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. David Browne of The New York Times writes, "Aguilera has been one of the foremost practitioners of the overpowering, Category 5 vocal style known as melisma. Ms. Carey, Ms. Houston and Ms. Aguilera, to name its three main champions, are most associated with the period from the late ’80s through the late ’90s." A review in the Los Angeles Times compared Aguilera's vocal stylings to Barbra Streisand, Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin adding, "Aguilera's Streisand-esque tendencies are a good thing; they're helping her figure out how to become the "great singer" she's been dubbed since she released her first single, the wise-beyond-its-years "Genie in a Bottle", at 18." Although praised for her vocals, Aguilera has been labeled for oversinging in her songs and concerts. Longtime producer and writer, Linda Perry, commented on working on the record, "Beautiful", saying, "I tried to keep it straight. I told her to get rid of the finger waves. Every time she'd start going into "hoo-ha", I'd stop the tape. I'm like, 'You're doing it again.'" Perry ended up using the first take saying, "She had a hard time accepting that as the final track. It's not a perfect vocal – it's very raw. She knows her voice really well, and she knows what's going on. She can hear things that nobody else would catch."
Themes and musical style
Aguilera performing "Dirrty" in her Back to Basics Tour in 2006.
The constant theme in Aguilera's music and lyrics is love, although she has written on other subjects including spirituality, female empowerment, and grief. Aguilera has also written about her childhood in two of her records which dealt with domestic abuse. In an interview Aguilera admitted she feels responsible to reveal her most vulnerable feelings and to share the darker sides of her life adding "People that can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance." She has been noted to constantly changing her sound in her music and lyrical content. Originally marketed as a bubblegum pop singer during the late 90's pop scene, she quickly departed into a broad range of musical genres for her follow-up album Stripped. A review states, "Clearly afflicted with Premature Serious Artist Syndrome, Aguilera wants to demonstrate the range of her interests – vampy soul, quasi-metal, piano-bar intimacy, quiet-storm R&B, bounce-bounce hip-hop, and semi-exotic rock, all of it dutifully accomplished."
The majority of the songs are characterized by Aguilera's loud vocals, though she has used breathy and soft vocals. Her 2006 release, Back to Basics included producer DJ Premier. The New York Times exclaims, "Her decision to work with the low-key DJ Premier was also a decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely." Aguilera has often cited that she prefers working with producers that are not in popular demand, saying "I don't necessarily go to the main people that are the No. 1 chart-toppers in music." The album included live instrumentation and samples of past jazz and soul records. Some tracks on the album included non-traditional forms of pop music such as swing jazz and big band, drawing comparisons to Madonna's I'm Breathless and the musical film Cabaret. Her first feature film, Burlesque, influenced by Cabaret, featured mainstream producers Tricky Stewart and Danja on the soundtrack where several established songs were updated and worked into dance numbers, a style similar to 2001's Moulin Rouge! "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" was performed by Aguilera in the film, a musical number also performed by Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!
One of Aguilera's major influences and idol is blues singer Etta James, whose classic song "At Last" has been covered by Aguilera throughout her career. Aguilera says, "Etta is my all-time favorite singer. I've said it for the last seven years — since I had my first debut record out — in every interview. I mean, all of Etta's old songs, countless songs I could name, I grew up listening to." The majority of her album, Back to Basics, pays tribute to James and other pop standard singers who many originated from the 1950s. In her early years she listened to vintage jazz, blues, and soul music The album included an unreleased song, "Slow Down Baby", which sampled a Gladys Knight & the Pips song. A review in The Guardian declared, "Practically everything recorded before Aguilera was born blurs into one amorphous genre, which she categorises, somewhat inadequately, as "fun music". Aguilera has also named Madonna and Janet Jackson as two of her biggest influences "for being re-inventive and being brave as strong females, to explore whatever, even if they do get bad press. It's just like they were fearless." Her other musical influences include Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Nina Simone.
In 2000, Aguilera was the face for make-up line Fetish where she worked in choosing colors and packaging for the line. She ended her contract the following year. Throughout her career Aguilera has endorsed several brands, including Skechers, Mercedes-Benz, Verizon Wireless, and soft drink giants Coca-Cola in 2001, and Pepsi in 2006. She became the muse and model for fashion house Versace appearing in a campaign for the 2003 fall line. In 2004 Aguilera earned £200,000GBP (about $300,000USD) for opening the summer sale at London's Harrods store which took in record breaking profits during the four week period. In 2005 she was reportedly paid $3.6 million to sing a three song set for Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko's wedding. Aguilera signed a contract with European cell phone operator Orange to promote the new Sony Ericsson Walkman phone during the 2006 World Cup.
In 2008 jewelry designer Stephen Webster and close friend of Aguilera released "Shattered", a collection of sterling silver pieces, through Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Aguilera, who inspired the collection, was featured as a Hitchcock heroine saying, "Working together on this campaign and collection has been an incredible experience. I am honored to be a part of it all." They reprised their work together for Webster's 2009 spring line.[
Throughout her career, Aguilera has been involved with several charities. She signed a letter from PETA to the South Korean government asking that the country stop its alleged killing of dogs for food. During her 2007 tour she unknowingly wore a fur stole during the beginning of her tour, which designer Roberto Cavalli provided without informing Aguilera. After receiving a video from PETA Vice President Dan Mathews on the treatment of foxes, she replaced the stole with faux fur for the remainder of her tour. Aguilera was reportedly upset adding, "I only ever wear fake fur". In 2010 Aguilera auctioned off tickets for her upcoming tour for Christie's A Bid to Save the Earth. Proceeds benefit nonprofit environmental groups Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Central Park Conservancy. Aguilera also supports Defenders of Wildlife, Missing Kids, National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations, Women's Cancer Research Fund, and Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Research Institute. She has also worked alongside nonprofit organization Do Something saying, "Every individual has the power to inspire young people across the country." In 2010 she was nominated for a VH1 Do Something Award for her work with the organization and her efforts in the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. She was featured in the campaign for photographer, Brie Childers with the goal of helping women of all ages, races and lifestyles feel beautiful and confident about themselves and the body and skin they were born with. Proceeds from benefit several women's charities nationwide.
Aguilera is still a major contributor in her hometown of Pittsburgh contributing regularly to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. According to her official website, she toured the center and donated $200,000 to the shelter. She also has auctioned off front row seats and back stage passes for the Pittsburgh-based charity. She has continued her donations and visits to the shelter, and plans to open an additional one. She also supports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Refuge UK. Since then she has worked with Lifetime Television's 'End violence against women' campaign. Her work there included a public service announcement which aired on the network and during her 2007 tour.
Aguilera is a supporter of the LGBT community and is considered a gay icon by many. She was honored at the GLAAD Awards for using gay and transgender images in her music video for "Beautiful". When accepting the award Aguilera said, "My video captures the reality that gay and transgender people are beautiful, even though prejudice and discrimination against them still exists." In 2005 she appeared on a compilation album titled, Love Rocks, proceeds benefit the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to fighting for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. In 2008 she publicly spoke out against California's Proposition 8 which eliminates same-sex marriage in California saying, "Why you would put so much money behind something [aimed at] stopping from people loving each other and bonding together? I just don't understand it. It's hard for me to grasp. But I would've been out there with my rally sign as well."
Aguilera contributes in the fight against AIDS, by participating in AIDS Project Los Angeles' Artists Against AIDS "What's Going On?" cover project. In 2004, Aguilera became the new face for cosmetic company M·A·C and spokesperson for M·A·C AIDS Fund. Aguilera appeared in advertisements of the M·A·C's Viva Glam V lipstick and lipgloss, and was featured on Vanity Fair in recognition of her campaign work. In addition, Aguilera contributed to YouthAIDS by posing for a joint YouthAIDS and Aldo Shoes campaign for "Empowerment Tags" in Canada, the U.S. and the UK. She was featured with one of three ubiquitous slogans, "Speak No Evil?" and stated, "HIV is something that people don’t want to talk about, hear about, or face." Singer Elton John featured Aguilera in his charity book titled "Four Inches" benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Elton also hand-picked Aguilera, for his annual "Fashion Rocks" charity concert which accompanies music and fashion to benefit the fight against AIDS/HIV.
Aguilera on a promotional poster for World Hunger Relief.
In the run-up to the 2004 United States presidential election, Aguilera was featured on billboards for the "Only You Can Silence Yourself" online voter registration drive run by the nonpartisan, non-profit campaign "Declare Yourself". In these political advertisements, shot by David LaChapelle, Aguilera was shown with her mouth sewn shut, to symbolize the effects of not voting. She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the importance of voting. In late 2007 Aguilera became the spokesperson for "Rock the Vote" where she urged young people to vote in the 2008 presidential election. In partnership with "Rock the Vote", she appeared in a public service announcement which aired in summer 2008. The advert showed Aguilera with her son, Max Bratman, wrapped in an American flag, while singing "America the Beautiful".
In November 2005, all of her wedding gifts were submitted to various charities around the nation in support of Hurricane Katrina victims. That year she also performed at "Unite of the Stars" concert in aid of Unite Against Hunger in Johannesburg, South Africa and at the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the Coca-Cola Dome. In March 2007 Aguilera took part in a charity album (remaking Lennon's "Mother"), proceeds benefit Amnesty International's efforts to end genocide in Darfur. The album titled, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, was released June 12, 2007 and featured various artists. In 2008 she headlined London's Africa Rising charity concert at Royal Albert Hall which raises awareness for finding substantial issues facing the continent. Later that year she appeared on the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal "Var mısın? Yok musun?" , where she won $180,000. Proceeds were donated to a charity program for orphans.
In 2009 Aguilera became the global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief appearing in advertisements, online campaigns and a public service announcement. Aguilera and her husband traveled to Guatemala with the World Food Programme to bring awareness to issues such as the high malnutrition rate in that country. She met with families of the villages and some of the beneficiaries of WFP's nutrition programs. Aguilera adds, "The people of WFP do such a great job helping hungry children and mothers. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful project." Since becoming a global spokeswoman Aguilera has helped raise over $22 million which helped provide over 90 million meals She was honored at Variety's annual "Power of Women" luncheon in late 2009 alongside other women in entertainment for her contribution to philanthropic and charitable causes. In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Aguilera donated a signed Chrysler 300 which was auctioned for relief efforts. She was one of the many artists who appeared on the Hope for Haiti telethon on January 22, 2010, donations directly benefited Oxfam America, Partners In Health, Red Cross and UNICEF. She later appeared on a second public service announcement alongside sports icon Muhammad Ali to raise funds for the World Food Programme's efforts to bring food to survivors of the earthquake. Later that year Aguilera made her first visit to Haiti as an ambassador against hunger where she visited two schools in the town of Léogâne. During her time there she assisted in the ongoing efforts to help the badly damaged town where she served meals and highlighted reconstruction efforts in the country