Childhood and youth
Jessica Ann Simpson was born in Abilene, Texas. She is the daughter of Tina Ann (née Drew), a homemaker, and Joseph "Joe" Truett Simpson, a minister and psychologist. Her mother is of English American and Native American descent, while her father is Scottish American. She has a younger sister, Ashlee, who is also a singer.
Jessica Simpson first developed and nurtured her talent in her local Baptist church, where her father also worked as the congregation's youth minister. At age twelve, she unsuccessfully auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club. While attending a church camp, at the age of 13, Jessica Simpson sang Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You and an arrangement of Amazing Grace.
One of the camp's visitors was launching a Gospel music record label and saw great promise and profits in her voice. It was during this time, while attending J. J. Pearce High School, Jessica Simpson signed to Proclaim Records, a minor Gospel music record label. She recorded an album, Jessica, but Proclaim went bankrupt and the album was never officially released except for a small pressing funded by her grandmother. This small pressing gained her minor attention which led her to performing at concerts with other gospel legendary acts such as Kirk Franklin, God's Property, and CeCe Winans.
When she was sixteen years old, Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola heard Jessica, he was impressed with Simpson’s musical talent and skill. Mottola instantly thought Jessica Simpson sounded like Mariah Carey. Jessica Simpson was immediately signed to the label. She dropped out of high school but later earned her GED.
1999–2001: Sweet Kisses and Irresistible
Jessica Simpson released her first single, "I Wanna Love You Forever", which peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999, and reached the top ten in ten countries. Soon afterwards, her major label debut album Sweet Kisses was released. Although, she was classified in the teen pop sensation genre, unlike other female teen stars competitors like Britney Spears and Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson truly had a very powerful luscious voice beyond her years. To support the album's release, Simpson toured with Ricky Martin, Destiny's Child, and with boy band 98 Degrees.
Meanwhile, Simpson's album Sweet Kisses had gone double platinum, helped by the follow-up singles "Where You Are" and "I Think I'm In Love With You", which were both released in 2000. The latter became Simpson's biggest radio hit at that point, and was her first release of an uptempo single. Her debut album sold 2 million copies in US. Columbia Records officials reportedly decided Simpson needed a change for her second album. The following year, when Jessica Simpson came to record her second album, executives pressured her to have a much more sexy image.
In 2000, Jessica Simpson started recording the follow-up to Sweet Kisses, with what Columbia considered more radio-friendly, up-tempo tracks. The sophomore album, titled Irresistible, was released in mid-2001 on the heels of the title-track first single. "The title track" became one of the biggest hits of her career; it peaked at number fifteen on the Hot 100 and stayed in the chart for twenty weeks. It managed to reach the top forty in some other countries it charted. In addition, it led to the attention of record producer Jermaine Dupri of So So Def Recordings to remix the song within a Hip-Hop—tinged genre style which featured rap artist Lil Bow Wow.
Irresistible debuted at number 6 in June 2001 on the Billboard 200 chart, with 127,000 copies sold in its first week. It was later certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling or shipments of 500,000 copies or more. Irresistible has sold 850,000 copies in the US, to date. In order to support the album, Jessica Simpson went on her first headlining tour, called the DreamChaser Tour, in mid-August, but due to the September 11, 2001 attacks could not complete the planned dates.
During the summer of 2003, the reality show, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, starring Jessica Simpson and her then-new husband Nick Lachey began airing on MTV. Simpson's third album, In This Skin, was released in August 2003 to coincide with the series premiere of Newlyweds.
The show quickly became a pop culture phenomenon and is credited with making her a household name, even among those who did not follow pop music or MTV. "I never knew that just doing the show would give me that pedestal to step on," Jessica Simpson told Blender magazine, in a March 2004 feature.
In This Skin, debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200, with sales of 64,000 in its first week. But, it rebounded after a special collectors' edition was released in April 2004, and subsequently reached a peak of number 2. It contained the song "Sweetest Sin", which barely even made an impact on the Bubbling Under Hot 100. However, the album did contain the hit singles "With You" (No. 14, 2004) and a cover of the Berlin song "Take My Breath Away" (No. 20, 2004), and a lesser hit, a cover of the Robbie Williams song "Angels", which charted just outside the Billboard Hot 100. In December 2004, the album was certified three times multi-Platinum by the RIAA. According to Simpson's biography, the album has sold 4 million copies in US, to date.
The couple starred in the television special The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour, which aired in 2004 and was compared to The Sonny & Cher Show. In 2005, Newlyweds won a People's Choice Award for Favorite Reality Show before wrapping shortly after.
In late 2004, Jessica Simpson released her first Christmas album titled Rejoyce: The Christmas Album . It peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard 200 chart and was later certified gold by the RIAA. Simpson appeared on The Dukes of Hazzard soundtrack, releasing "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", a cover of the 1966 Nancy Sinatra. The song peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a People's Choice Award for Favorite Song from a Movie, in 2006. The song's video featured Simpson as Daisy Duke. It contains scenes of her flirting and singing in a bar and then later washing the General Lee car, wearing a skin-tight, revealing pink bikini. In some countries the video was banned for its overtly sexual content. Jessica Simpson received criticism from a Christian group calling itself "The Resistance", for the sexualized image she used in the music video for "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". In response, Simpson stated, "It didn't really surprise me because I grew up with a lot of that backlash. That's why I didn't end up going into the Christian music industry. I think that if they're really good Christians the judgment wouldn't be there."
In the summer of 2005, Jessica Simpson made her first appearance in a motion picture as Daisy Duke in the movie version of the television series The Dukes of Hazzard. The film was No. 1 at the box office its opening weekend, and grossed $30.7 million on 3,785 screens. It also had an adjusted-dollar rank of No. 14 all-time for August releases. The film eventually collected $110.5 million worldwide, although it was much less financially successful outside the U.S.
2006–2007: A Public Affair and Employee of the Month
In 2006, Jessica Simpson returned to the recording studio, switching labels from Columbia to Epic Records. On 29 August 2006, she released her fifth studio album A Public Affair. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, with 101,000 copies sold in its first week. The album sold 300,000 copies in the US, a low figure compared to her previous albums. The first single from the album, bearing the same name "A Public Affair", debuted at number thirty-nine, her highest debut after "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", and reached a peak of number fourteen on the Hot 100. It also hit number 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play, becoming Simpson's first number one single on the chart. Internationally, it reached the top ten in Canada and Ireland. The video featured appearances by actresses Eva Longoria and Christina Applegate, singer Christina Milian, Maria Menounos, Andy Dick, and Ryan Seacrest.
Simpson's second film, Employee of the Month, was released October 6, 2006. With poor reviews, the film took in $11.8 million in its opening weekend, debuting at number 4 just behind Open Season. In December 2006, while performing a tribute to Dolly Parton at the Kennedy Center Awards, she botched the lyrics, getting flustered in front of a crowd that included prominent persons such as Steven Spielberg, Shania Twain, and President George W. Bush. Though Simpson was given the chance to redo the song for cameras, her portion was edited out of the CBS broadcast.
In December 2007, Jessica Simpson co-starred with Luke Wilson in her third film, Blonde Ambition. The film opened in eight theaters in Texas (the home state of both Simpson and Wilson), and earned US $6,422. It was released on DVD in January 2008. Blonde Ambition fared better overseas, where it grossed $253,008 in the Ukraine its opening weekend.
2008–2009: Move to country and Do You Know
In September 2007, Simpson's father Joe Simpson stated to People magazine that Simpson was considering doing a country album. Joe Simpson told People that she is "talking about doing a country record and going back to her roots, being from Texas."
Simpson's next movie, Major Movie Star (later renamed Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous) was released straight to DVD on February 3, 2009. On April 7, 2009 Simpson's rep confirmed with US Weekly that she and label Sony Nashville were parting ways.
2010–present: Return to Reality TV and Happy Christmas
Simpson's VH1 documentary series, The Price of Beauty, began airing in March 2010. The series followed Simpson around the world, introducing viewers to the different perceptions of beauty in different cultures. The premiere episode attracted one million viewers, but Simpson revealed that the series would return in 2011 with a format change. Initially, Simpson planned to release a new studio album that would end her contract with her label, Epic Records. However, a greatest hits compilation, Playlist: The Very Best of Jessica Simpson, was released in late October instead. Simpson's second holiday album, Happy Christmas, released under Primary Wave in November. The album featured production from Tricky Stewart and The-Dream and was promoted with a television special on PBS, Jessica Simpson: Happy Christmas.
In June 2011, it was announced that Jessica Simpson participated as a mentor in NBC's new reality show Fashion Star with Elle McPherson. In July 2011, she appeared on Fashion Star alongside Nicole Richie.