Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born in Michigan in August 1958. She was raised a Catholic and was the third of six children. As a child, she took ballet classes and after graduating high school, she was offered a dance scholarship at the University of Michigan. The young Madonna later moved to New York to pursue a career in dance. Through her dance work, she made contacts in the music industry and began sending out demos.
After catching the attention of Sire Records, she secured a recording contract and released her first single ‘Everybody’ in April 1982. An eponymous debut album followed and Madonna gained a growing fan-base.
Madonna went from US cult to worldwide phenomenon with the release of her second album, ‘Like A Virgin’. Her distinctive look started fashion crazes for lace gloves, leggings and chunky belt buckles. ‘Into The Groove’ became the biggest single from the album, with buoyed sales from its inclusion in her film ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’.
In 1985, Madonna met – and married – actor Sean Penn, to whom she dedicated her next album ‘True Blue’. Singles such as ‘Open Your Heart’, ‘La Isla Bonita’ and ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ cemented Madonna’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with in popular music.
After embarking on a hugely successful world tour and appearing in films ‘Shanghai Surprise’ and ‘Who’s That Girl?’, Madonna began work on her follow-up album ‘Like A Prayer’, which was released in 1989, the same year as her divorce to Sean Penn. She signed a deal with Pepsi for $5m and the album’s title track made its worldwide debut on the TV commercial. However, Pepsi was forced to pull the ad after seeing the music video, which featured burning crosses and stigmata. This led the Vatican to urge Catholics to boycott the star’s Blonde Ambition tour.
Madonna later courted more controversy over the release of her sexually explicit book ‘Sex’ which coincided with her follow-up album ‘Erotica’. Her success waned during the mid 90s. However, Madonna won a Golden Globe in 1996 for her role in ‘Evita’ and in 1998, she released her album ‘Ray of Light’ to much acclaim.
Her continuing success into the 21st century comes from releasing albums such as ‘Music’ and ‘Confessions on a Dancefloor’ and high-grossing world tours like ‘Reinvention’ and ‘Sticky & Sweet’. No-one can deny that Madonna has left an indelible mark in music history and popular culture.
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