Actress/singer/model Ashley Tisdale parlayed the success of projects like the TV series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and the hugely popular High School Musical franchise into a career as a pop singer. Thanks to the series of Disney Channel films, Tisdale was the first female artist to debut with two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time. Her solo albums, which included 2007's Headstrong, achieved similar success. Though she spent most of the 2010s concentrating on her acting work, 2019's Symptoms revealed a newfound edge to her music.
Born in New Jersey, Tisdale began her career in show business at age three, and sang for President Bill Clinton at age 12. Manager Bill Perlman discovered her in a New Jersey mall and sent Tisdale to numerous auditions for commercials, resulting in her placement in over 100 national network TV ads. She began a theatrical career as well, performing in productions of The Sound of Music and Gypsy: A Musical Fable at the Jewish Community Center of Monmouth County. A leading role in a national touring production of Les Miserables and a role in an international touring production of Annie followed.
In the late '90s and early 2000s, Tisdale moved into TV and film work, appearing on shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210, The George Lopez Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and The Hughleys, as well as the cult movie Donnie Darko. However, it was the role of babysitter Maddie Fitzpatrick in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody that turned her into a teenage star in 2004. The show's popularity made her a fixture on the Disney Channel, leading to appearances on Hannah Montana and her 2006 breakout role as High School Musical's Sharpay Evans. The massive popularity of the TV movie's soundtrack made Tisdale the first female artist to debut with two songs, "Bop to the Top" and "What I've Been Looking For," on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time.
Along with lending her voice to the animated series Phineas and Ferb (which she continued to do until the show's end in 2015), Tisdale recorded her solo debut album. Headstrong arrived in February 2007, debuting at number five on the Billboard 200; the album's lead single "He Said She Said" was certified gold by the RIAA. Tisdale then appeared in the Emmy-nominated High School Musical sequel, which drew a record-setting 17 million viewers for its August 2007 premiere. Reflecting the film's popularity, the High School Musical 2 soundtrack reached number one on the Billboard 200. The following year, Tisdale appeared in High School Musical 3, the franchise's first theatrically released installment. The music for the film was another success, premiering at number two on the Billboard 200. With the High School Musical trilogy complete, Tisdale adopted a more mature sound on her second album. Released in 2009, Guilty Pleasure reflected influences such as Britney Spears, Fergie, and Katy Perry and debuted at number 12 on the Billboard 200.
For much of the 2010s, Tisdale's acting and behind-the-scenes work took precedence over music. In addition to roles in film and TV projects including Scary Movie 5, Sons of Anarchy, the High School Musical spinoff Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure and Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch (for she earned a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program). She also founded her own production company, Blondie Girl Productions, which developed shows including the Freeform series Young & Hungry. Late in 2013, Tisdale returned to music with "You're Always Here," a single about her late grandfather. Three years later, she began posting covers of pop hits on social media. To make her third album, Tisdale worked with Goldfinger's John Feldman as producer. Feldman helped her bring an electro-pop edge to Symptoms, a collection of songs inspired by Tisdale's depression and anxiety. The album arrived in 2019 on the singer's own label Big Noise. ~ Heather Phares