Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone
August 16, 1958
The Queen of Pop, The Material Girl, The Blond Ambition, Dita, M-dolla, Madge
Madonna Louise Fortin (mother)
Sean Penn (1985-1989) Guy Ritchie(2000-2008)
Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958 in Bay City, Michigan) better known simply as Madonna, is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and entrepreneur whose immense popularity in the 1980s and '90s allowed her to achieve levels of power and control unprecedented for a woman in the entertainment industry.
Madonna is known for continuously reinventing both her music and image, and for retaining a standard of autonomy within the recording industry. She attained immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Critics have praised her diverse musical productions which have also been known to induce controversy.
Born into a large Italian-American family, Madonna studied dance at the University of Michigan and with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City in the late 1970s before relocating briefly to Paris as a member of Patrick Hernandez’s disco revue. .
Her parents are Silvio "Tony" Ciccone and Madonna Fortin. Tony, the son of Italian immigrants, was the first of his family to go to college, where he earned a degree in engineering. Madonna's mother, an x-ray technician and former dancer, was of French Canadian descent. After their marriage in 1955, the couple moved to Pontiac, Michigan, to be close to Tony's job as a defense engineer. Madonna was born three years later, during a visit with family in Bay City. The third of six children, Madonna learned early on how to handle her role as the middle child, admitting that she was "the sissy of the family" who often used her feminine wiles to get her way.
Her parents' strict observation of the Catholic faith played a large role in Madonna's childhood. "My mother was a religious zealot," Madonna explains. "There were always priests and nuns in my house growing up." Many elements of Catholic iconography—including her mother's statues of the Sacred Heart, the habits of the nuns at her Catholic elementary school, and the Catholic altar at which she and her family prayed daily—later became the subject of Madonna's most controversial works.
Another heavy influence on Madonna's early life was her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer during her pregnancy with Madonna's youngest sister. Treatment had to be delayed until the baby reached full term, but by then the disease had grown too strong. On December 1, 1963, at the age of 30, Madonna's mother passed away. Madonna was only 5 years old at the time of her mother's death.
The loss of her mother significantly affected Madonna's adolescence. Haunted by the memories of her mother's frailty and passive demeanor during her final days, Madonna was determined to make her own voice heard. "I think the biggest reason I was able to express myself and not be intimidated was by not having a mother," she says. "For example, mothers teach you manners. And I absolutely did not learn any of those rules and regulations."
She fought especially hard against the rules imposed by her stepmother, Joan Gustafson, who met Madonna's father while working as the family housekeeper. Madonna says Gustafson often made her take care of the younger children in the household, a task she greatly resented. "I really saw myself as the quintessential Cinderella," Madonna later said. "I think that's when I really thought about how I wanted to do something else and get away from all that." She rebelled against her traditional upbringing by turning her conservative clothing into revealing outfits, frequenting underground gay nightclubs, and rejecting her religious background.
Music and Dance
But Madonna balanced this insubordinate side of her personality with a drive for perfectionism and high-achievement. She was a straight-A student, cheerleader, and disciplined dancer who graduated from high school a semester earlier than her peers. In 1976, her hard work earned her the attentions of the University of Michigan, which offered her a full scholarship to their dance program.
In 1977, during her undergraduate studies at Michigan, Madonna was awarded a six-week scholarship to study with the Alvin AileyAmerican Dance Theater in New York City, followed by a rare opportunity to perform with choreographer Pearl Lang in 1978. At the urging of her dance instructor, the budding star dropped out of college after only two years of study in order to move to New York and further her dance career.
Rise to Top Stardom
In 1981, Madonna decided to go solo and hired manager Camille Barbone of Gotham Records to help her get her singing career on track. Camille showed Madonna how to navigate the male-dominated world of the music business, and helped put together a studio band that accentuated the budding star's hip style. Friend Stephen Bray, a musician in her band, wrote her first hit, "Everybody", and Madonna used her brash business style to get the recordings to New York music producer Mark Kamins. Kamins then helped Madonna score a record deal with Sire Records. "Everybody" hit number one on the dance charts in 1982.
1982–85: Career breakthrough and first marriage
After the success of "Everybody",Madonna started developing her debut album, Madonna, which was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas of Warner Bros. However, she was not happy with the completed tracks and disagreed with Lucas' production techniques, so decided to seek additional help.
She moved in with her boyfriend,John "Jellybean" Benitez, asking his help for finishing the album's production. Benitez remixed most of the tracks and produced "Holiday", which was her third single and her first global hit. The overall sound of Madonna was dissonant and in the form of upbeat synthetic disco, using some of the new technology of the time, like the Linn drum machine, Moog bass and the OB-X synthesizer. The album was released in July 1983 and peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 six months later, in 1984. It yielded two more hit singles, "Borderline" and "Lucky Star". Madonna's look and style of dressing, her performances, and her music videos influenced young girls and women. Her style became one of the female fashion trends of the 1980s. Created by stylist and jewelry designer Maripol, the look consisted of lace tops, skirts over capri pants, fishnet stockings, jewelry bearing the crucifix, bracelets, and bleached hair. Madonna achieved global recognition after the release of her second studio album, Like a Virgin, in November 1984. It topped the charts in several countries and became her first number one album on the Billboard 200.The title track, "Like a Virgin", topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks. It attracted the attention of organizations who complained that the song and its accompanying video promoted premarital sex and undermined family values, and moralists sought to have the song and video banned.
The next hit was "Material Girl" promoted by her video, a mimicry of Marilyn Monroe's performance of the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" from the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. While filming this video, Madonna started dating actor Sean Penn. They married on her birthday in 1985. Madonna entered mainstream films in February 1985, beginning with a brief appearance as a club singer in Vision Quest, a romantic drama film. Its soundtrack contained two new singles, her U.S. number-one single, "Crazy for You" and "Gambler". She also appeared in the comedy Desperately Seeking Susan in March 1985, a film which introduced the song "Into the Groove", her first number one single in the United Kingdom. Although Madonna was not the lead actress for the film, her profile was such that the movie widely became considered (and marketed) as a Madonna vehicle. The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby named it one of the ten best films of 1985.
Beginning in April 1985, Madonna embarked on her first concert tour in North America, The Virgin Tour, with the Beastie Boys as her opening act. She progressed from playing CBGB and the Mudd Club to playing large sporting arenas. At that time she released two more hit singles from the album, "Angel" and "Dress You Up"
1986–91: True Blue, Who's That Girl, and Like a Prayer
In June 1986 Madonna released her third studio album, True Blue, which was inspired by and dedicated to Sean Penn. Rolling Stone magazine was generally impressed with the effort, writing that the album "sound[s] as if it comes from the heart". It resulted in three singles making it to number-one on the Billboard Hot 100: "Live to Tell", "Papa Don't Preach" and "Open Your Heart", and two more top-five singles: "True Blue" and "La Isla Bonita". The album topped the charts in over 28 countries worldwide, an unprecedented achievement at the time, and became her best-selling studio album of her career to this date with sales of 25 million. In the same year, Madonna starred in the critically panned film Shanghai Surprise, for which she was awarded the Golden Raspberry Award for "worst actress". She made her theatrical debut in a production of David Rabe's Goose and Tom-Tom; the film and play both co-starred Penn. The next year, Madonna was featured in the film Who's That Girl. She contributed four songs to its soundtrack, including the title track and "Causing a Commotion".
Madonna embarked on the Who's That Girl World Tour in July 1987, which continued until September. It broke several attendance records, including over 130,000 audience in a concert near Paris, which remains her biggest concert attendance ever. Later that year, she released a remix album of past hits, titled You Can Dance, which reached number 14 on the Billboard 200. After an annulment in December 1987, Madonna filed for divorce from Penn in January 1989, citing irreconcilable differences.
In January 1989, Madonna signed an endorsement deal with soft-drink manufacturer, Pepsi. In one of her Pepsi commercials, she debuted her song "Like a Prayer". The corresponding music video featured many Catholic symbols such as stigmata and cross burning, and a dream of making love to a saint, leading the Vatican to condemn the video. Religious groups sought to ban the commercial and boycott Pepsi products. Pepsi revoked the commercial and canceled her sponsorship contract. The song was included on Madonna's fourth studio album, Like a Prayer, which was co-written and co-produced by Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray. Madonna received positive feedback for the album, with Rolling Stone writing that it was "as close to art as pop music gets". Like a Prayer peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 15 million copies worldwide, with 4 million copies sold in the U.S. alone. Six singles were released from the album, including "Like a Prayer", which reached number one, and "Express Yourself" and "Cherish", both peaking at number two. By the end of the 1980s, Madonna was named as the "Artist of the Decade" by MTV, Billboard and Musician magazine.