Madonna Louise Ciccone, or better known only as Madonna, was born in Michigan on August 16th, 1958. The Queen of Pop, as she’s often called, is one of the greatest and most prolific artists of the modern age.
Madonna has been judged as controversial more than once with her daring lyrics, bold music videos, and striking live performances. In fact, her 1984 MTV performance – a performance where she appeared on stage sitting on top of a giant wedding cake with a wedding dress on – has been noted by MTV as one of the most iconic moments in the history of the VMA.
However, that’s exactly what makes Madonna so remarkable – she is Madonna after all. She’s dared to push boundaries not only in the field of music but in fashion, feminism, and business as well. Today, Madonna is widely acknowledged as an influence to many of the modern pop music artists.
Madonna was raised in Michigan by Catholic parents: her mother actually had the same name as her and other family members called Madonna as “Little Nonni”. Madonna grew up in a large family – she has five other siblings, three brothers, and two sisters. Later on, when her father remarried, she got two more half-siblings.
An event that largely affected her upbringing – and her later life – was the death of her mother, who died in 1963 at the age of 30. Her mother died of breast cancer and Madonna, only 5 at the time, has said that she couldn’t quite understand what was happening nor could she grasp the concept of her mother dying.
It may be said that her mother’s death made Madonna the overachiever she is – it was a moment of deep trauma that happened during early childhood. For a CNN interview, she stated that at multiple times through her life, she’s felt “a huge hole inside of her, a feeling of emptiness and longing” that she was trying to fill out.
In 1966, even though the Ciccone children resented whoever else was brought in their house to take care of them, her father remarried. Being angry with her father for remarrying, Madonna started to act rebelliously – her relationship with her father was strained for years afterward.
Madonna attended Catholic schools while growing up and was known for two things: her very high GPA and her unconventional behavior. In fact, the Queen of Pop wasn’t scared of sparking up some controversy even then – she’d do handstands in the hallways so boys could see her underwear!
After graduating high school, she received a dance scholarship at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance – she was convinced dancing is her true calling. She dropped out of school later on and moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance.
Moving to New York with only $35 in her pocket, Madonna has described this as “the bravest thing” she’s ever done. While working odd jobs and trying to make ends meet, she also had to live through a rape – she was held under a knife threat on a roof top and was forced to perform unwilling sexual acts.
A romantic relationship at the time was what led her to start singing – in 1980, she and her former boyfriend Stephen Bray formed up a band called Emmy. Even though she never really thought of herself as a singer – she was often surprised when someone would tell her she sings well – Madonna decided to market herself as a solo-artist and left the band. Eventually, her music reached the right person – Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records.
After signing a deal with Sire, her debut single Everybody was released in October 1982. Her second single, Burning Up, followed soon after in March 1983, with both songs becoming big club hits throughout the USA at the time. Her third single, Holiday was what skyrocketed her music career – a career so grand, it might as well be compared to the great success of The Beatles! In fact, speaking of The Beatles, according to Billboard, Madonna is the most successful solo act on the Hot 100 singles chart, coming second only to The Beatles!
A series of successful albums followed throughout the years, with her never failing to impress her fans: Like a Virgin, True Blue, Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dance Floor. Madonna herself has written and produced the biggest part of her songs, many out of which reached the number one position on music charts. Her Like a Virgin, Papa Don’t Preach, Like a Prayer, Vogue, Frozen, Hung Up have been one of her most popular songs.
The Guinness World Records has recognized Madonna as the best-selling female recording artist of all times due to her having sold more than 300 million records worldwide. Madonna also remains the highest-grossing solo touring artist, with over $1.31 billion in concert gross reported from 1990.
Apart from singing, Madonna has always had an active interest in acting as well. She played the title role in Desperately Seeking Susan, and even though the movie didn’t gain much in popularity, it introduced her first ever UK number-one single, Into the Groove. Her other popular appearances include: Who’s That Girl, Dick Tracy, and Evita, roles that helped her build her career further on. So far, she’s received mixed feedback about her acting talent but she’s earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her fantastic role in Evita.
As far as her personal life is concerned, she’s been married twice and has six kids, out of which four are adopted from Malawi – she participated in the Raising Malawi initiative and decided to adopt while visiting an orphanage.
Her biological daughter is called Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon and she had her with her then-partner, Carlos Leon. Rocco Ritchie is her son she had with her ex-husband Guy Ritchie. She adopted David Banda in 2006, Mercy James in 2009 and twin girls Esther and Stella Mwale in 2017.
Nowadays, Madonna is also an acclaimed businesswoman, with Forbes describing her as the wealthiest woman in the music business industry. So far, she’s founded her own entertainment company, Maverick, though she also has ventures regarding fashion design, children’s books, filmmaking and different health clubs. Her last album is called Rebel Heart and it was released in March 2015 – it did receive positive feedback.