Madonna Life Story
Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American pop singer, dancer, songwriter, producer, actress, and author. She currently lives in the United Kingdom. Frequently referred to as the “Queen of Pop”, Madonna has gained fame and notoriety for her innovative music videos, stage performances, and often controversial use of sexual and religious themes and imagery in her work. She has garnered numerous awards throughout her career and is the holder of many records within the music world.
In 2000, The Guinness Book of Records, credited Madonna as the most successful female recording artist of all time, with estimated worldwide sales of 120 million albums. Her record label, Warner Bros., reported in 2005 that she had achieved international sales in excess of 200 million albums.
Early life: Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan. She is the third of six children born to Silvio “Tony” P. Ciccone, a Chrysler engineer of Italian American extraction, and Madonna Louise Fortin, of French Canadian descent. She was raised in a Catholic family in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Rochester Hills. Madonna’s mother died of breast cancer at the age of thirty on December 1, 1963 when Madonna was five years old. Madonna has frequently discussed the impact her mother’s death had on her life and career, calling it “one of the hardest things I’ve faced in my life.” Her father later married the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson, and had two children with her.
Growing up Madonna’s father required all of his children to take music lessons, however after a few months of piano lessons, Madonna convinced her father to allow her to take ballet classes instead, and she proved to be a gifted dancer. She attended Rochester Adams High School, where she was a straight-A student, excelled at sports and was a member of the cheerleading squad. After graduating from high school in 1976, she received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan, where she met ballet teacher Christopher Flynn.
In addition to mentoring Madonna in dance, he provided her first exposure to gay discotheques, a scene that would later have an impact on the singer’s music and style. In 1977, at the encouragement of Flynn, Madonna left college at the end of her second year and moved to New York City to pursue a dance career. Looking back at her arrival in New York, Madonna has said: “When I came to New York it was the first time I’d ever taken a plane, the first time I’d ever gotten a taxi-cab, the first time for everything. And I came here with 35 dollars in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done.”
Madonna experienced financial difficulties throughout this time, living in squalor and working a series of low-paying jobs, including a stint at Dunkin’ Donuts. She also worked as a nude model on occasion. During this time, she studied with Martha Graham and Pearl Lang and later performed with several modern dance companies, including Alvin Ailey and the Walter Nicks dancers.
While performing as a dancer for the French disco artist, Patrick Hernandez, on his 1979 world tour, Madonna met and became romantically involved with the musician, Dan Gilroy, with whom she formed her first rock band, the Breakfast Club, in New York. In addition to providing vocals, she played drums and guitar, before forming the band, Emmy in 1980 with drummer and former boyfriend Stephen Bray.
She and Bray wrote and produced a number of solo disco and dance songs that brought her local attention in New York dance clubs, particularly “Danceteria” and “Kansas Kansas”. D.J. and record producer Mark Kamins, was sufficiently impressed by the demo to bring it to the attention of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein.
1982-1985: Beginning and rise to fame: In 1982, Madonna signed a singles deal with Sire Records that paid her $5,000 per song. Her first single, “Everybody,” produced by Mark Kamins peaked at number three on the “Billboard Dance Chart”. It also gained some airplay on R&B radio stations, leading many to assume that Madonna was a black artist.
When “Everybody” was released, Madonna’s picture did not appear on the single cover sleeve, because Sire did not want to risk alienating the fans that had assumed Madonna was black. Her next single, “Burning Up,” was also a hit on the “Billboard Dance Chart” (peaking at #3) , and although she had not achieved a success on the pop charts, Sire Records agreed to release an album.
In 1982, Madonna briefly dated the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Sire Records released Madonna’s self-titled debut album on July 27, 1983 (it was repackaged and retitled Madonna – The First Album for Europe and overseas in 1985). The album was chiefly produced by Reggie Lucas. Madonna’s then-boyfriend, John “Jellybean” Benitez, produced one song while adding post-production to the bulk of the other tracks.
Although Madonna sold slowly at first, sales increased with the release of the third single, “Holiday”, which peaked at number sixteen on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in early 1984. The follow-up singles: “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” peaked at number ten and number four respectively, becoming Madonna’s first top ten/top five hits. Madonna album peaked at number eight on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and was eventually certified 5x platinum.
Madonna’s image at the time, a kittenish combination of punk culture with an urban ambiance, and her increasingly elaborate music videos soon made her a regular fixture on the fledgling MTV network. Madonna would join such 1980s stars as Michael Jackson and Prince in using the music video medium to create a new brand of image-conscious multimedia star.
On November 14, 1984, Madonna’s sophomore album, Like A Virgin was released. The album, produced by Nile Rodgers, became her first number one album on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. Buoyed by the success of its title track (which hit number one across the globe, including a six week stay at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart), “Like A Virgin” became an international success, spawning three more Billboard top five singles: “Material Girl,” “Angel” and “Dress You Up,” and eventually being awarded the Diamond album certification by the RIAA for shipments exceeding 10 million albums in America.
Madonna’s performance at the first annual MTV Video Music Awards, in which she writhed on the stage wearing a combination bustier/wedding gown, lacy stockings and garters and her then-trademark “Boy Toy” belt, was the first of several public displays that boosted Madonna’s fan base as much as they incensed some critics, who felt that her provocative style attempted to disguise an absence of talent. The performance, meanwhile, is listed at number eleven on VH-1′s “Greatest Moments That Rocked TV.”
In 1985, Madonna broke out into mainstream film roles — beginning with a brief appearance playing a club singer in the film Vision Quest. The soundtrack to the film contained her second number one pop hit, the Grammy-nominated ballad “Crazy For You.” A second Madonna track from the films soundtrack, “Gambler”, was released outside America. The same year, Madonna garnered commercial and critical success in her first starring role in Susan Seidelman’s film, Desperately Seeking Susan, which grossed $27 Million in the America. Featured on the soundtrack was the Madonna performed “Into the Groove” which, as the B-side to the Like A Virgin track “Angel”, peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the UK, Into The Groove was released as a single in August 1985 and gave Madonna her first number one. It was later included as a bonus track on the 1985 re-release of Like A Virgin. Madonna concluded her year on the UK chart having notched up eight top ten hits in 1985 alone.
Madonna launched her first full-scale live performance tour titled “The Virgin Tour.” News reports from the tour would highlight the advent of the “Madonna Wannabe” — hordes of teenage girls around the country dressing in spandex, miniskirts, torn t-shirts, and lacy bras, with armfuls of black rubber bangles, teased, bow-tied hair and a stressed mole above the lip to emulate the star.
In July 1985, a number of black and white nude photos of Madonna, taken in the late 1970s, were published in Penthouse and Playboy magazines. The publications caused a swell of publicity and public discussion of Madonna, who remained unapologetic, and coincided with her performance at the Live Aid charity concert. Speaking to a global audience, Madonna made a critical reference to the media, and despite the sweltering heat, vowed that for her performance she would not give her critics that satisfaction of taking off her jacket.
In August, Madonna lost a court battle in which she attempted to block the video release of A Certain Sacrifice, a low-budget and explicit, Art house film from 1979, which featured her. During this time she made public her relationship with the actor Sean Penn. On her twenty-seventh birthday, she and Penn were married in an outdoor ceremony in Malibu, California.
1986-1991: Artistic development: Madonna’s third album, True Blue, was released on June 30, 1986. Co-produced by Madonna, Patrick Leonard, and Stephen Bray, the album quickly rose to number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart and spun-off three number one hits: “Live to Tell,” (the theme from the film At Close Range), “Papa Don’t Preach,” and “Open Your Heart,” — as well as the top five charting title track, and “La Isla Bonita”. True Blue was a more musically and thematically mature album than its predecessors, prompting Rolling Stone to declare, “Singing better than ever, Madonna stakes her claim as the pop poet of lower-middle-class America”.
True Blue videos showed Madonna’s continued interest in pushing boundaries of the music video medium to a cinematic level, including elaborate art direction, cinematography and film devices such as character and plot. Though Madonna had already made videos expressing her sexuality and overflowing with pop cultural references, she added religious iconography, gender archetypes and social issues to her oeuvre and these concepts would carry through her work for years to come. It is worthwhile to note that many of Madonna’s images and ideas for video were co-opted after the fact from other artists such as Deborah Harry and Annie Lennox.
Madonna appeared with husband Sean, in the 1986 film Shanghai Surprise, which was unanimously panned by critics and performed poorly at the box office. Madonna was awarded the “Worst Actress” trophy at the “Golden Raspberry Awards” two years in a row for her roles in Shanghai Surprise and the 1987 comedy Who’s That Girl.
In spite of the Who’s That Girl film being a critical and commercial failure, the adjoining soundtrack album (which featured four new Madonna songs) went platinum on the strength of the Madonna-performed title track, which became an international hit and Madonna’s sixth number one single. A second Madonna single, Causing A Commotion, peaked at number two in the closing months of 1987. A third single, The Look of Love, was released in the UK, becoming a top ten hit there.
Madonna embarked on the successful “Who’s That Girl World Tour” in the summer of 1987, beginning her long association with backing vocalists and dancers Donna DeLory and Niki Haris and moving closer to the more elaborately-staged theater-inspired concert. The tour also marked her first run-in with the Vatican. The Pope, meanwhile, urged fans not to attend her performances in Italy, and the Vatican expressed outrage at the unveiling of a racy 13-foot Madonna statue in the Italian town of Pacentro. The Italian date was released on video in 1988 under the name Ciao Italia! – Live From Italy.
Madonna ended the year with the release of her Platinum-certified remix album entitled, You Can Dance. The album included one new song, Spotlight, which became a top forty airplay hit despite not being released as a retail single except in Japan.
In 1988, Madonna took a break from music and spent the spring performing in her first theater production, the David Mamet play “Speed The Plow”, in New York. On December 28, 1988 — Madonna filed assault charges against Sean Penn. On January 5, 1989, she filed for divorce after less than four years of marriage.
Madonna’s fourth studio album, Like A Prayer, was released on March 21, 1989. Peaking at number one on Billboards Top 200 Albums Charty, the album spawned five singles: the number one charting title track; Express Yourself, Cherish, which both peaked at number two respectively; the top ten Keep It Together, as well as the top twenty hit Oh Father. A sixth track from the album, “Dear Jessie,” was successfully promoted as a single outside America and accompanied by an animated video. Like A Prayer, certified four times platinum, is often cited by critics as the best album of her career.
The music video for “Like A Prayer” featured many Catholic symbols, such as stigmata, and was condemned by the Vatican for its “blasphemous” mixture of Catholic symbolism and eroticism. The highlights of the video features an innocent black man being arrested after coming to the aid of a woman who had been attacked by white assailants, as well as Madonna singing in a field of burning crosses. While the video’s symbolism denounced racism, it had a different effect entirely.
In early 1989, Madonna signed an endorsement deal with soft drink manufacturer Pepsi. Her song “Like A Prayer” would be debuted in a Pepsi commercial in which Madonna would appear. The commercial, which was not controversial in itself, aired — featuring everyone enjoying Pepsi. The next day the music video for “Like A Prayer” premiered on MTV. Looking similar in tone to the commercial — but including more controversial imagery, people confused the two and Pepsi was subsequently bombarded with complaints and threats of boycotts.
Pepsi succumbed to pressure, pulled their commercial off the air, and cancelled all plans for future commercials with Madonna. Though the deal with Pepsi called for three commercials, Madonna kept her five million dollar advance fee since Pepsi had cancelled the contract. Ironically, however, Madonna was honored with the Pepsi-sponsored “Viewers Choice” award at the 1989 MTV VMA’s for the “Like A Prayer” music video.
In 1990, Madonna starred as Breathless Mahoney in big screen version of Dick Tracy, opposite Warren Beatty, with whom she had a brief relationship. On May 21, I’m Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy was released. The album’s first single, “Vogue” quickly raced to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart where it remained for three weeks.
The single itself went double platinum, arguably became the biggest hit of Madonna’s career, and made voguing an instant pop-culture euphemism. A second I’m Breathless single, “Hanky Panky”, went top ten that summer. Also on the album was “Sooner Or Later (I Always Get My Man),” a song featured in the Dick Tracy film, which won an Academy Award in early 1991 for “Best Original Song.” Madonna also gave a memorable performance at the award ceremony.
On November 9, 1990, Madonna’s first greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection, was released. Fifteen of Madonna’s biggest hits (although it suspiciously left out a handful of hits including the number one single, “Who’s That Girl”) were featured, as well as two new songs: Justify My Love and Rescue Me, both released as singles.
The music video for “Justify My Love” featured Madonna being intimate with then-lover model Tony Ward, plus scenes of S&M, bondage, gay & lesbian snuggling, and brief nudity. Deemed too racy for MTV, it was subsequently banned it from the air — thus marking the first time the network didn’t embrace a Madonna music video. The ensuing controversy prompted Warner Bros. Records to steadfastly package the “Justify My Love” music video and release it on VHS as a ‘video single.’ The first of its kind, it sold over 400,000 copies. The “Justify My Love” CD single, meanwhile, went platinum and the song itself peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in January 1991. It was quickly followed up with “Rescue Me,” which peaked at number nine.
In 1991, Madonna starred in her first documentary film, Truth Or Dare (also known as In Bed with Madonna outside of America), which chronicled her 1990 “Blond Ambition Tour,” as well as what happened behind the scenes. The film grossed $15 million in the U.S. and another $20 million overseas, making it commercially the most successful documentary of its time.
In the summer of 1992, Madonna appeared opposite Geena Davis and Tom Hanks in the Penny Marshall-directed film, A League Of Their Own — which centered around a women’s baseball team during the time of World War II. A box office success, Madonna’s lightweight and comedic performance earned good reviews from critics. She also wrote and recorded the film’s theme song, “This Used To Be My Playground,” which became a worldwide hit and Madonna’s tenth number one single on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart.
1992-1996: Sex controversy and Evita: The erotic book Sex, photographed by Steven Meisel, was released on October 21, 1992. Adult in nature, it featured Madonna as the centerpiece of photographs along with other celebrities of the time depicting various sexual fantasies and acts including lesbianism, sadomasochism and felching. It became an instant bestseller.
That same year, in the wake of publicity generated by the book, Madonna, at the age of 34, released her next album, Erotica. The two were linked together by the public due to their generally close release dates and overt sexual content. She co-wrote and produced this record mostly with Shep Pettibone. Almost a companion piece to the book, it featured sexual anthems that made no attempt to disguise their star’s appetite for erotic fantasy and role-playing. The album spawned two U.S. top ten hits, including “Erotica,” which became the highest-debuting (number two) single in the history of the Hot 100 Airplay Chart.
The controversial video only aired a total of three times on MTV. In the U.S., “Erotica” was followed by the top-ten hit “Deeper And Deeper”, “Bad Girl” (number thirty-six) and “Rain” number fourteen). After a string of twenty-nine consecutive top twenty singles (beginning with “Holiday”, “Bad Girl” was the first single not to break into the U.S. pop top twenty. On the other hand, the ballad “Rain” was the only one of the album’s singles to be played on Adult Contemporary radio; the kinder, gentler nature of the song and its video stood in direct contrast to the rest of the album.
Body of Evidence was regarded by U.S. commentators as an exercise in soft-core pornography, with Madonna’s character accused of killing her lover by means of sexual intercourse. The film was R-rated and contained copious nudity and graphic sex scenes. Dangerous Game was similar in its graphic and violent content.
Madonna’s 1993 world tour The Girlie Show Tour was her most explicit and controversial to date. Coming off the back of the Erotica album, her critically-panned film Body of Evidence and her infamous Sex, The Girlie Show showed the singer at her most confrontational. She opened the show dressed as a whip-cracking dominatrix, surrounded by topless dancers including Luca Tomassini and Carrie Ann Inaba.
Controversy followed the pop star around the globe. She caused uproar in Puerto Rico by rubbing the island’s flag between her legs on stage, while Orthodox Jews protested against her first-ever show in Israel. Madonna would later comment that this period of her life was designed to give the world every single morsel of what they seemed to be demanding in their invasion of her private life. She hoped that once it was all out in the open, people could settle down and focus on her work.
On 1994, Madonna’s seventh studio album Bedtime Stories was released. Debuting at number three on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, it spun-off the top five hit “Secret”, co-produced by Dallas Austin, that fall. The second single, Take A Bow (co-written and co-produced by singer songwriter producer Babyface, who also sang backup on the track) was released at years end and topped the Hot 100 Singles Chart for seven consecutive weeks in early 1995. The Michael Haussman-directed video, meanwhile, would later help her win the lead role in Evita.The Bedtime Stories album was nominated for a Grammy the same year.
In late 1995, Something To Remember, a collection of Madonna’s greatest ballads was released. It featured You’ll See one of three new songs, which went top ten. The album would also be certified triple platinum.
In an attempt to improve her acting credentials, Madonna opted over the next few years to take small roles in independent films. She appeared as a singing telegram girl in Blue in the Face (1995) and as a witch in Four Rooms (1995). She played the cameo part of a phone sex company owner in Spike Lee’s unsuccessful Girl 6 in 1996.
The Alan Parker film marked the first time that Madonna was heralded as an actress in a leading role. She delivered a Golden Globe-winning performance and was critically praised. The Evita soundtrack went on to become Madonna’s 12th platinum album, spawning the singlesDon’t Cry for Me Argentina and You Must Love Me, the latter receiving an Oscar for best original song in a film.
While You Must Love Me was a moderate hit on radio and MTV, it was a dance remix of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina that cemented the soundtrack’s mainstream pop success. The remix became a worldwide top ten hit in December 1996/January 1997. The final release from this soundtrack was Another Suitcase In Another Hall, which reached #7 in the UK.
In 1996, Madonna became pregnant by her lover at the time, personal trainer Carlos Leon, and on October 14 gave birth to her daughter, Lourdes Maria (Lola) Ciccone Leon. The next year Madonna began studying Kabbalah, a mystical interpretation of the Torah. She took Yoga lessons and pursued a vigorous exercise regime that brought her body to a peak of toned fitness.
1998-2002: Return to commercial prominence: Ray Of Light, Madonna’s eighth studio album, was released on March 3, 1998. Co-produced by European electronic music performer William Orbit and longtime friend and collaborator Patrick Leonard, it became Madonna’s most critically and commercially acclaimed recording since Like a Prayer, going 4x platinum in America and selling more than seventeen million copies worldwide.
Ray Of Light spun-off two U.S. top five singles: Frozen and Ray of Light. Other singles were Drowned World/Substitute For Love, The Power of Good-Bye, and Nothing Really Matters. The video for Ray Of Light was directed by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund and won Madonna five of MTV Video Music Awards in 1998 – including Video Of The Year. In early 1999, Madonna won four Grammy awards for Ray Of Light. That summer, she scored a top twenty airplay hit with Beautiful Stranger (featured on the the soundtrack to the film, Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me).
In 2000, Madonna focused next on her pet project, a film called The Next Best Thing. Critics and audiences alike panned the film, which marked yet another disappointment in Madonna’s film career. The soundtrack spawned the worldwide (excluding the U.S.) number one hit, “American Pie,” a dance cover version of the Don McLean classic.
In 2000, at the age of 42, Madonna released the album Music. A commercial and critical hit, it saw Madonna abandon her earlier sexual and religious themes for throwaway lyrics and the “party” spirit of dance, pop, and house. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 selling 420,000 copies its first week. Music was produced partly by Orbit and French techno musician Mirwais Ahmadzai. It spawned her twelfth #1 single, Music, plus the hits Don’t Tell Me and What It Feels Like for a Girl. Madonna was pregnant with her second child, Rocco, during the shooting of the Music video, parts of which contain animation. The controversial What It Feels Like for a Girl video, directed by her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, was banned by MTV and VH1 after just one airing due to its graphic violence. Music was nominated for four Grammys and was certified triple platinum in the U.S..
Madonna married Ritchie on 22 December 2000 at Skibo Castle in Scotland. She also appeared in Star, a short commercial film directed for BMW by Ritchie, and then began working on Swept Away at the end of the year. The film, released in 2002, was critically panned and went on to become yet another in a string of acting flops.
In 2001, Madonna went on her “Drowned World Tour.” It was sold out and was Madonna’s first world tour since 1993′s “The Girlie Show Tour.” It was later shown on a television special in the U.S. and released on DVD in November 2001 to coincide with the release of her second Greatest Hits album, GHV2. Unlike her previous greatest hits compilation, GHV2 featured a selection of radio edits of her hits from the 1992–2001 period, but did not contain any new songs. The only single release was an instore/radio megamix containing songs from that era named “Thunderpuss GVH2 Megamix.”
In 2002, Madonna performed the theme song to the James Bond film Die Another Day, a worldwide top-ten hit (number eight on the Billboard Hot 100). She also had a cameo in the film as a fencing instructor named Verity. The song was nominated for both a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and a Golden Raspberry for Worst Song.
2003-2006: Commercial ups and downs: Lackluster reception for Madonna’s ninth studio album, American Life, caused her reputation to take a turn for the worse in early 2003. In yet another move that followed her pattern of creating controversy in the wake of an album’s release, she filmed a music video for “American Life” which included visceral scenes depicting explosions and blood. Only days before the video premiered, the scenes with footage of bleeding war victims were removed and a scene of her tossing a hand grenade into the lap of a George W. Bush lookalike was added.
Perhaps mindful of the protests and boycotts in the USA that had greeted the Dixie Chicks after they made some anti-war comments, Madonna decided not to release the original version of the video and instead opted to release a treated version showing Madonna singing the song in front of the flags of different countries.
Though a hit outside of the USA, within the USA the single performed poorly, with a cool reaction at radio (the single barely made the top 40 peaking at number thirty-seven). Follow-up singles “Hollywood”, “Nothing Fails” and “Love Profusion” were moderate-sized hits around the world but in the US, they failed to chart at all, receiving little-to-no radio play.
Madonna performed a re-worked version of “Hollywood” with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. This performance became one of the most talked-about performances in the history of MTV Video Music Awards. She also provided guest vocals on Spears’ single “Me Against the Music”. At the end of the year 2003 Madonna released an EP containing remixes of songs off the “American Life” album and other rarities titled Remixed & Revisited. The EP, listed as an album in some territories and a single in others, received a cool reaction in stores.
In 2004, Madonna embarked on the “Re-Invention World Tour,” during which she played fifty-six dates in the U.S. and Europe. The tour became the highest-grossing tour of 2004, earning 125 million dollars according to Billboard magazine. Madonna was both complimented and criticized for including a notable amount of her past hits on the set list. Some critics noted that Madonna has previously stated she had no desire to tour with her older hits from the 1980s. She also performed in an aid concert that NBC organized, called Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope.
Madonna faced a brief battle with Warner Brothers Records, with whom she shared record label Maverick, Madonna sold her shares in Maverick in a settlement reportedly worth $10 million. Years earlier her long time manager, Freddy DeMann, was forced out of Maverick with an estimated $40 million buyout package.
In 2005, Madonna released her second documentary to TV, titled I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, which had been filmed during her 2004 Re-Invention world tour. Then in November 2005, she released her 10th studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor which debuted at number one in forty-one different countries setting a new record previously held by The Beatles. Confessions was produced primarily by Madonna and Stuart Price but also included tracks by Mirwais Ahmadzai and Bloodshy & Avant.
The first single, “Hung Up”, peaked at number one in forty-one countries (a record) and became number one for a record fifteen weeks on the United World Charts. The track features a sample of the popular ABBA song “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight).” With the chart success of “Hung Up”, Madonna tied Elvis Presley in the record for the most Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. This was followed up by “Sorry”, Madonna’s twelvth number one single in UK. “Get Together” has been pinned as the third single from the album to have a late spring/early summer release.
The album has gone platinum in the United States selling over 1.4 million copies while another 7+ million have sold worldwide. Record executives at her long time label – Warner, were understood to be ecstatic upon hearing Confessions On A Dance Floor which features up-tempo/dance music only.
She opened the MTV Europe Music Awards 2005 and the 2006 Grammy Awards 2006 with the Gorillaz in a pre-filmed and animated segment on a screen. Madonna was nominated for five Australian MTV AVMAs and one MTV Asia Award.
Recently, Madonna announced a global concert tour to support the “Confessions on a Dance Floor” album. The Confessions Tour, due to run from May to September 2006, will cover North America, Europe, and maybe Japan. Tickets for her shows have sold out in record time. This tour was prempted by a truncated performance at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 30, 2006.
She is also lending her voice to the big budget 2006 animated film Arthur and the Minimoys. Madonna provides the voice of Princess Selenia. The film, directed by Luc Besson, is expected to be released in December 2006.
Personal life: Italian influence: Though Madonna Ciccone is half French Canadian, more often the influence of her Italian American heritage has been reflected in her work. Perhaps this is because Madonna’s French Canadian mother died when Madonna was five and Madonna was subsequently raised by her Italian American father. References to Madonna’s Italian heritage have often been found in her work. In the video for “Truth or Dare”/”In Bed with Madonna”, Madonna describes herself as “Italian American”.
She says, “I’m an Italian American and proud of it.” In her 2005 documentary I’m Going To Tell You a Secret, Madonna jokingly states that she has “big Italian thighs”. In the video for “Papa Don’t Preach” she wears a shirt that says, “Italians Do It Better.” Madonna has described her birth name (Madonna Ciccone) as being “very Italian”. The video for her second concert tour, the “Who’s That Girl?” tour, was filmed mainly in Turin, Italy; the video is titled “Ciao Italia: Madonna Live from Italy”. The video to her first #1 song, “Like a Virgin”, featured Madonna performing in Venice, Italy.
Madonna’s Father Silvio (Tony) started the award winning Ciccone Vineyard in Suttons Bay, Michigan in 1995. Madonna has been known to visit at times during the summer months.
Gay community: Madonna has long been a gay icon. Many of her performances have incorporated aspects of “gay culture”, the most famous example being her hit song “Vogue”. In the 1980s, a time before most celebrities felt comfortable lending their support to AIDS charities, Madonna was one of the first major artists to speak out about the need for money for AIDS research. The Advocate, the largest LGBT magazine in the United States, once declared Madonna “the greatest gay icon of all time”.
Kabbalah Centre: Since the late-1990s, Madonna has become a devotee of the disputed Kabbalah Centre and a disciple of its controversial head Rabbi Philip Berg and his wife Karen. Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie attend Kabbalah classes and have been reported to have adopted a number of aspects of the movement and associated with Judaism.
The media has reported that Madonna has taken on the Biblical name of Esther, has donated millions of dollars to the Kabbalah Centre in London, New York and Los Angeles; no longer performs on Friday nights because it’s the time when the Jewish Sabbath begins; wears a red string; and has visited Israel with members of the Kabbalah Centre to celebrate some of the Jewish holidays. She also studies personally with her own private-tutor, rabbi Eitan Yardeni, whose wife Sarah Yardeni runs Madonna’s favorite charitable project, “Spirituality for Kids,” a subsidiary of the Kabbalah Centre. Madonna reportedly donated 21 million dollars towards a new Kabbalah school for children.
Controversy erupted again well before the release of her most recent album Confessions on a Dance Floor. Many Israeli rabbis condemned Madonna and the forthcoming song “Isaac” (tenth on its track listing) because they believed the song to be a tribute to Rabbi Isaac Luria, also known as Yitzhak Luria (1534-1572), one of the greatest Kabbalists of all time, and claimed that Jewish law forbids using a holy rabbi’s name for profit. (Whether Jewish law actually forbids this, or the rabbis were simply uncomfortable with Madonna’s song, is disputed).
In interviews, Madonna had called this song: “The Binding of Isaac” and rumors spread that it was based on the major episode in the life of the Hebrew patriarch Isaac. Despite continued accusations that the song is about Isaac Luria, Madonna has repeatedly denied such accusations, claiming she could not think of a title for the song and, therefore, named it after Yitzhak (Isaac) Sinwani. In the song, Madonna sings with Sinwani, an Israeli singer, who is chanting a Yemenite Jewish song. Said Madonna: “The album isn’t even out, so how could Jewish scholars in Israel know what my song is about? I don’t know enough about Isaac Luria to write a song, though I’ve learned a bit in my studies.”
Madonna has openly defended her Kabbalah studies by stating, for example: “I wouldn’t say studying Kabbalah for eight years goes under the category or falls under the category of being a fad or a trend. Now there might be people who are interested in it because they think it’s trendy, but I can assure you that studying Kabbalah is actually a very challenging thing to do. It requires a lot of work, a lot of reading, a lot of time, a lot of commitment and a lot of discipline.”
Furthermore, Madonna believes that Christianity, etc…, is intolerant of questioning, whereas Kabbalah is not. That is, she is able to question things in Kabbalah [This from a BBC interview.].
Political views: Madonna openly opposes United States President George W. Bush, and she endorsed Wesley Clark’s Democratic nomination for the 2004 United States presidential election in an impassioned letter to her fans, saying at the time that “the future I wish for my children is at risk.” She also urged fans to see Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.
In 2004 the following statement was attributed to Madonna: “Unfortunately our current government cannot see the big picture. They think too small. They suffer from the “what’s in it for me?” syndrome. The simple truth is that the current administration has squandered incredible opportunities to bring the world together, to promote peace in regions that have only known war, to encourage health in places that are ravaged with disease, to make us more secure by living up to our principles at home and abroad. The simple truth is that the policies of our current administration do not reflect what is great about America.”Related Information: