Free Press Journal

Birthday Special: Madonna, the controversial songstress

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On the singer, writer, entrepreneur’s birthday (August 16), FPJ chronicles her successful, yet controversial, journey and rise to fame

  • Born and raised in Michigan, Madonna moved to New York Cityin 1977, to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing as a drummer, guitarist and vocalist in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, Madonna signed with Sire Records in 1982.
  • Her debut single, “Everybody”, was released in October 1982, and the second, “Burning Up”, in March 1983. Both became big club hits in the United States.
  • Madonna’s popularity soared high due to her roles in films such as Desperately Seeking Susan(1985), Dick Tracy (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), and Evita (1996). Though many of her films received poor reviews, Evita earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
  • In 1992, she founded her own entertainment company Maverick, including the label Maverick Records. Her other ventures include fashion design, writing children’s books, health clubs, and filmmaking.
  • Since Madonna had the same name as her mother, family members called her “Little Nonni”. She has two elder brothers, Anthony and Martin, and three younger siblings, Paula, Christopher, and Melanie. Upon being confirmedin the Catholic Church in 1966, she adopted Veronica as a confirmation name.
  • In January 2008, she was named the world’s wealthiest female musician by Forbes magazine.
  • While in college, Madonna was a straight-A student, cheerleader and disciplined dancer who graduated from high school a semester earlier than her peers. In 1976, the University of Michigan, 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 Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, followed by a rare opportunity to perform with choreographer Pearl Lang in 1978.
  • In 1979, Madonna began dating Dan Gilroy, one of the founding members of a ska influenced pop-punk band called Breakfast Club.
  • On August 16, 1985, she married actor Sean Pennand co-starred with him in the film Shanghai Surprise (1986). The marriage was marred by reports of domestic violence and his assault of a photographer — behaviour that landed him a month’s jail time and eventually led to the couple’s divorce.
  • Madonna has always been a controversies child. And it started with her controversial 1985 performance of her hit single “Like a Virgin” on the MTV music awards, which involved writhing around suggestively onstage in a wedding dress. This was followed by the debut of Madonna’s 1989 “Like a Prayer” video, which featured interracial relationship themes, burning crosses and a blending of sexual innuendo and religious ideologies.
  • She is the writer and executive producer of I Am Because We Are, a documentary about the lives of Malawi’s AIDS orphans, and the art-house film Filth and Wisdom, both with 2008 releases.
  • Madonna became a mother in 1996, giving birth to Lourdes Maria (Lola) Ciccone Leon, whom she had with her lover and personal trainer, Carlos Leon. In 2000, she married British director Guy Ritchie(with whom she split in 2008) and gave birth to their son, Rocco John Ritchie, the same year.
  • On the eve of her 50th birthday in 2008, Madonna faced more challenges in her personal life. She spent much of the previous year fighting allegations that she circumvented traditional Malawi laws to bring home her newly adopted son, David Banda, whom she had been raising since 2006. Madonna’s application to permanently adopt the boy was approved by Malawai’s high court on May 28, 2008.
  • In February 2017, Madonna adopted 4-year-old twins, Estere and Stelle, from Malawi again.
  • Life with My Sister Madonna, a book by Madonna’s brother Christopher, debuted at number two on The New York Timesbestseller list.[196] The book caused some friction between Madonna and her brother, because of the unsolicited publication.
  • In May 2012 Madonna went on The MDNA Tour, in Tel Aviv, Israel. The tour featured controversial subjectssuch as violence, firearms, human rights, nudity and politics, but it still received positive critical reception. Lawsuits threatened against Madonna have also been engaged from the tour.
  • Working with photographer Steven Klein, Madonna completed a 17-minute film called secretprojectrevolution, which was released in September 2013. With the film she launched the Art for Freedom initiative, which helped to promote art and free speech as a means to address injustice across the globe. The website for the project has had over 3,000 art related submissions since its inception, with Madonna regularly monitoring and enlisting other artists like David Blaineand Katy Perry as guest curators.

Compiled by Manasi Y Mastakar