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There are few artists or performers known by a single name alone. Madonna is one of them. Known also as the “Queen of Pop,” she is a singer, songwriter, and performer hailing from Bay City in Michigan.

Madonna has sold over 300 million records during her career.

Early life

Madonna was born on August 16, 1958. Her full name is actually Madonna Louise Ciccone, though she’s only known as ‘Madonna’ worldwide.

Her meteoric rise to fame is often associated with her fearlessness, and she’s never been afraid to push the envelope.

When it comes to pushing boundaries, this rebellious streak likely started during her adolescence. For example, in the book Madonna, an Intimate Biography, she said “she was a “lonely girl who was searching for something. I didn’t shave my underarms, and I didn’t wear make-up like normal girls do. I wanted to be somebody.” 

In 1978, she moved to New York. She initially planned to pursue a career in modern dance but soon discovered that music was her true calling. Before embarking upon a solo career (with her self-titled debut album), she was in two different bands, Breakfast Club and Emmy and the Emmys.

Rise to fame.

Her first song to hit the top-ten charts was “Holiday,” but her career really began to take off after the release of the album “Like a Virgin” in 1984. Featuring songs including, Like a Virgin, Material Girl, and Dress You Up, the album was the first album from a female artist to surpass 5 million sales in the US.

Over time, she became known for her dedication to disrupting the norm due to suggestive lyrics, costumes, and more.

Overall, Madonna has released 14 Studio Albums, 3 Soundtrack albums, and 6 live albums. Her bestselling or most-streamed songs are: 

  • Into the Groove
  • Like a Virgin
  • Crazy For You
  • Holiday
  • Papa, Don’t Preach

According to a BBC report, Madonna has sold over 300 million records throughout her career, making her the single most successful female recording artist in history. Amazingly, the next most successful artists (in terms of sales) are still a far way from claiming her title, with Rhianna, Maria Carey, and Celine Deon having sold over 200 million records each.

Other pursuits.

Whether she felt as though she spends too much time in the recording studio or was simply looking for a new way to express herself, she’s also had an extensive career on the big screen. However, her acting has not won her nearly as many awards as her music – unless you’re counting the Razzies!

In total, she has been nominated for 15 Razzie Awards. She has won nine of them. She earned her first Razzie for “Worst Actress” in 1986 for the film Shanghai Surprise. Her co-star (and then-husband) Sean Penn also received a Razzie nomination for his work on his ill-received film. 

Madonna has also dipped her toe in the fashion world, which, given her commitment to daring outfits (both on the red carpet and in her daily life), should come as no surprise. Luckily, her clothing lines and five fashion brands, tend to receive more positive press than her acting endeavors. 

Madonna has also worked hard to give back after finding success, and in doing so, founded the Ray of Light Foundation, a charitable organization with many different humanitarian-based goals. The Ray of Light Foundation, established in 1998 (when she released a hit song with the same name), promotes a wider message of peace and equality while also focusing on improving access to education for those in deprived areas.

During the pandemic, she also made a $1 million donation to studies working to find a treatment for COVID-19.

Fun Facts

  • According to various sources, Madonna moved to New York with “just $35 a dream.” She dropped out of college to facilitate this move, having previously been enrolled at the University of Michigan with a dance scholarship.
  • Before achieving global fame, Madonna once worked at Dunkin Donuts but was allegedly fired after just a few days.
  • Various higher education facilities offer short courses in “Madonna Studies,” which are said to explore both her discography and impact on pop culture.

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