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In a musical world where "format" and "market" are paramount concerns, the music of Anastacia is--to use a favorite phrase of Duke Ellington's--"beyond category."

Her remarkable debut album, Not That Kind, can't be classified simply as any one thing: dance music, pop music, rock, r&b. Featuring the premier single "I'm Outta Love," the album is a blend of all these sounds and more--a compelling collection of original songs drawing on the full spectrum of this gifted artist's musical influences and life experience.

Anastacia graduated from the Professional Children's School in Manhattan where, she recalls, "I was just about the only student not working already." She dabbled in poetry; sang along with her mother's Barbra Streisand and Elton John records; and with her older sister, became a regular at the New York dance club 1018.

It was her first introduction to house music and "freestyle." "At the time I didn't even know what it was," Anastacia admits, "but emotionally I felt very attached to this very rhythmic music. She worked to develop herself as an artist, not just as a demo singer or backing vocalist. But Anastacia's singular talent--that of a White woman singing in an essentially Black idiom, in a voice that had no color--defied easy classification and baffled even those well-meaning professionals who recognized her natural ability.

In 1998, at the urging of new manager Lisa Braudé, Anastacia entered MTV's version of "Star Search" called "The Cut." This competition saw 160 contestants whittled down to just ten finalists before an eclectic panel of judges including Pete Rock, David Foster, and Faith Evans. With her high-energy original song "Not That Kind," Anastacia emerged as one of those finalists (though not the winner). But it was the break for which she had worked so long and hard.

"The reaction was incredible," she recalls. "I mean, Michael Jackson called me at home! And over the next few months I met the president of every major record label." In March 1999, Anastacia signed an exclusive recording contract with Daylight Records, an Epic custom label founded by Epic Records Executive Vice President David Massey.

Anastacia faces her future with clarity and confidence, believing that "everything took its due course. You really have to know what you're getting into in this business. You can't just love to sing and think it's gonna be grand. You have to know about the business--and I have learned a tremendous amount.

"I don't feel like, gee, it took forever to get to this point. This was exactly when it was supposed to happen."