While the 1920s had "the It Girl," the millennium has her counterpart, "the AOL Girl." Lindsay Pagano, a teenager who hails from Philadelphia, received the high-tech moniker after a televised commercial for AOL showed teenagers asking if they'd heard her music yet -- even before her album had hit store shelves. While the phrase the It Girl had panache, it didn't bring the sort of instant recognition to a budding entertainer in the way that the backing of the giant ISP and its Time-Warner affiliation has done for Pagano. Love, Faith & Inspiration, her first album, was released in November of 2001, after her name had already been put before the public in the computer age's most public way, and after her single, "Everything U R," had already received exposure on the radio for several months. In addition, Reebok signed her to endorse its product, and the WB television network has featured "Everything U R" as the theme for its Maybe It's Me sitcom. The song also appeared on the soundtrack for American Pie 2. And despite her youth, Pagano managed to top all of these marketing feats with a musical coup when she recorded a duet with Paul McCartney. The former Beatle recorded his part of the track for "So Bad," a ballad which he authored, as a surprise for her.
Pagano, who also writes songs, was raised in a musical household. Her dad plays the bass and her mom sings. During her childhood, she was fond of singing along with recordings by such artists as Mariah Carey and Guns n' Roses, so much so that she wanted everyone to address her as Axl Rose. She also developed an ear for such powerhouse singers Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Whitney Houston. Pagano's big break began to unfold during a get-together at her Philadelphia home to celebrate her birthday when she turned 13. The guest list included Pat Bunch, a veteran songwriter. When Pagano began to sing, Bunch decided then and there to find someone in the music business to work with the youngster. Bunch eventually delivered a video of Pagano into the hands of Jude Cole. He was immediately won over by the budding singer, especially when he watched her singing "Respect." Cole and Pagano were soon ensconced in a studio to make a demo. She inked a deal with Warner Bros. Records in 2000. ~ Linda Seida