CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lauren Winans has been performing for most of her life. The 22-year-old Buckhannon native was already an aspiring musician when she moved to Nashville three years ago in hopes of taking her career to the next level.
"I've always liked to have everybody watch me sing," she said with a laugh.
"In elementary school, my dad got me this boom box, and I took it to school. I performed for everybody on the playground. I basically told them they had no choice; they had to watch me. I'd sing to Britney [Spears] and do gymnastics through the playground."
She has since moved on from gymnastics, but not from Britney. Winans has been a fan of the pop superstar from the beginning.
"Starting with 'Baby One More Time,'" she said.
Her enthusiasm for and admiration of Spears comes from her power as a performer.
"Her whole stage presence is really good," Winans said. "She gets people to stand there and watch her no matter what she's doing. She always keeps you wanting to see more of what she'll do.
"That's a good performer. That's why she's still where she is. People still wonder what she's going to do next."
That's the sort of career Winans aspires to -- and pop is the genre in which she plans to achieve her goals.
Despite living in the "Country Music Capitol of the World," she doesn't consider herself a country singer, not even a little bit. She said she was pushed in the direction of pop country early on, but it wasn't for her. She's much more Britney Spears than Taylor Swift.
Sticking with a pure pop style like her icon has paid off for Winans. Her single, "You're Gonna Luv It," landed in the Top 40 New Releases on iTunes when it came out in December. It's also found its way to several Top 40 radio stations, paving the way for her EP, which she said she is working to finish.
The tune paid off in an unexpected way, too. The company SeneGence signed her to be a brand ambassador for its LipSense lipstick line. On Jan. 16, it debuted Winans' signature shade: Luv It, described as "a shimmering peachy-pink color."
Winans pointed out that although Christina Aguilera has been wearing LipSense for some time, the star doesn't have a custom color.
LipSense isn't the only sponsorship Winans has, though. Right now, she's up to 10, including the recently added Forever 21.
"They're my newest sponsor. I just had a photo shoot for them," she said of the clothing store. "You can never have too many sponsors!"