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Madonna (born 16.08.1958) - American singer.

Madonna Photo/  Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie, known as Madonna, is an American dance-pop singer-songwriter, record and film producer, dancer, actress, author and fashion icon. She is noted for her ambitious music videos and stage performances as well as using political, sexual, and religious themes in her work.

In 2000, Guinness World Records listed Madonna as one of the most successful female recording artist of all time, with estimated worldwide sales of 120 million albums; in 2005, her record company credited her as having sold over 200 million albums worldwide. Madonna is one of the highest earning female singer of all time according to both the 2007 Guinness Book of Records, and Billboard Magazine. Forbes magazine has estimated her net worth at $325 million. In addition, Madonna holds the record for one of the top-grossing concert tours by a female artist

Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan. She was the third of six children (Martin, Anthony, Christopher, Paula, Melanie, Mario & Jennifer) born to Silvio "Tony" Ciccone, an Italian-American Chrysler engineer whose parents originated from Pacentro, and Madonna Louise Fortin, who was of Quebecois descent.

She was raised in a Catholic family in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Avon Township (now Rochester Hills). Madonna's mother died of breast cancer at age 30 on December 1, 1963. Her father later married the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson, and they had two children together.

Madonna convinced her father to allow her to take ballet classes. Her ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn, exposed Madonna to gay discotheques. She attended Rochester Adams High School, where she was a straight-A student and a member of the cheerleading squad. Madonna received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan.

She left at the end of her sophomore year in 1978 and moved to New York City to pursue a dance career. 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 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I'd ever done."

She had little money and for some time lived in squalor, working low-paying jobs including a stint at Dunkin' Donuts. She also worked as a nude model. 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 became involved with the musician Dan Gilroy, with whom she later formed her first rock band, the Breakfast Club. In it, she sang and played drums and guitar before forming the band Emmy in 1980 with drummer and former boyfriend Stephen Bray. She and Bray wrote and produced dance songs that brought her local attention in New York dance clubs. DJ and record producer Mark Kamins was impressed by her demo recordings, so he brought them to the attention of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein.

In 1982, Madonna signed a singles deal with Sire Records (a new wave label belonging to Warner Bros. Records) in the United States that paid her $5,000 per song. Her first release (April 24, 1982), "Everybody", a self-written song produced by Mark Kamins, became a hit on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Chart but failed to make an impact on the Billboard Hot 100. It also gained airplay on U.S. R&B radio stations, leading many to assume that Madonna was a black artist. The double-sided 12" vinyl single featuring "Burning Up" and "Physical Attraction" followed in 1983, and was a success on the U.S. dance charts. These results convinced Sire Records' executives to finance an album.

Her debut album, Madonna, a collection of dance songs, was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas, but in the process both realized they could not work well together. After initial production on the album was completed, Madonna took the record to her then boyfriend, John "Jellybean" Benitez, who remixed and rearranged it. It reached number eight on the U.S. albums chart and contained three successful Hot 100 singles, "Holiday", "Borderline", and "Lucky Star". At the time of its release, Madonna sold three million copies worldwide, one million of those in the U.S. It has since been certified with current sales of thirteen million worldwide.

As Madonna rose to fame, teenage girls became increasingly influenced by her fashions portrayed in photographs, live performances and music videos. Defined by lace tops, skirts over Capri pants, fishnet stockings, jewelry bearing the Christian cross, and bleached hair, this distinctive style became a popular female fashion trend in the 1980s.

Her follow up album, Like a Virgin, was an international success, and became her first number one album on the U.S. albums chart. Buoyed by the success of its title track, which reached number one in the U.S. (with a six week stay at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart) as well as hit singles with "Material Girl" (#2 US, kept out of the number one spot by USA for Africa's "We Are the World" single), "Angel", and "Dress You Up", the album sold twelve million copies at its time of release and currently stands at seventeen million copies worldwide and produced four top-five singles in the U.S. and the UK Her performance of the song at the first MTV Video Music Awards, during which she writhed on the stage (on top of a wedding cake) wearing a combination bustier/wedding gown, lacy stockings, 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.

In 1985, Madonna entered mainstream films, beginning with a brief appearance as 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", as well as the UK hit "Gambler". Later that year she appeared in the commercially and critically successful film Desperately Seeking Susan, with her comedic performance winning her positive reviews. The film introduced the dance song "Into the Groove", which was released as a B-side to her single "Angel", peaking at number five in the US and becoming a major hit internationally, and her first number one in the UK.

Madonna embarked on her first concert tour in the U.S. in 1985 titled The Virgin Tour, with opening act The Beastie Boys.

In July 1985, Penthouse and Playboy magazines published a number of black and white nude photos of Madonna taken in the late 1970s. The publications caused a swell of public discussion of Madonna, who at first tried to block them from being published, but later remained unapologetic and defiant. Speaking to a global audience at the outdoor Live Aid charity concert at the height of the controversy, Madonna made a critical reference to the media and stated she would not take her jacket off, despite the heat, because "they might hold it against me ten years from now". Madonna later appeared on the cover of the NY Post newspaper quoted saying about the photographs "I'm NOT ashamed."

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Madonna dated Dan Gilroy, with whom she formed the band Breakfast Club. In the early 1980s, she also dated musician Stephen Bray, who later co-produced songs such as "Into the Groove" and "Express Yourself", artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, DJ and record producer Mark Kamins, and musician Jellybean Benitez, who produced tracks and remixed her debut album Madonna.

While filming the music video for "Material Girl" in 1985, Madonna began dating actor Sean Penn. The two were married later that year on Madonna's twenty-seventh birthday. Their relationship was marred by Penn's frequent outbursts against the press, leading the couple to be dubbed the Poison Penns. After filing and withdrawing divorce papers in December 1987, Madonna and Penn separated on New Year's Eve of 1988 after allegations of abuse on Penn's part, and were officially divorced in September 1989. Of her marriage to Penn, Madonna later told Tatler, "I was completely obsessed with my career and not ready to be generous in any shape or form."

Post-divorce relationships, motherhood, and remarriage
After the divorce from Penn was made official in 1989, Madonna began a highly-publicized relationship with Warren Beatty while working on the film Dick Tracy early in 1989. Despite rumors that the two had become engaged in May 1990, the couple's relationship seemed to have ended by the summer. In a 1991 interview with Vanity Fair, Madonna said, "I'd go, 'Warren, did you really chase that girl for a year?!?' And hed say, 'Nah, it's all lies.' I should have known better. I was unrealistic, but then, you always think you're going to be the one."

In late 1990, Madonna dated Tony Ward, a young bisexual model and porn star who starred in her music videos for "Cherish" (1989) and "Justify My Love" (1990). Their relationship ended by early 1991,and Madonna later began an eight-month relationship with rapper Vanilla Ice, who appeared later in her Sex book.

In 1992; Madonna dated actor John Enos, her bodyguard James Albright, and in 1994 went out with basketball player Dennis Rodman for four months.

In September 1994, while walking in Central Park, Madonna met fitness trainer Carlos Leon who became her personal trainer and lover. On October 14, 1996, Madonna gave birth to the couple's child, Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. The couple ended their relationship in 1997. Madonna then began dating Andy Bird, who sold his story to the newspapers in a tell-all about their eighteen-month relationship in late 2000/early 2001.

On August 11, 2000, Madonna gave birth to a son, Rocco John Ritchie, with Guy Ritchie, whom she had met in 1999 through mutual friends Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler. On December 22, 2000, Madonna and Ritchie were married in Scotland. As of 2007, Madonna resides in London and her country estate in Wiltshire, with Ritchie and their children.

In March, 2007 Crown Publishing canceled a tell-all book deal, thought to be worth 5 million dollars, with Madonna and Ritchie's former nanny Melissa Dumas. The book claims that Madonna and Ritchie have a cold and distant relationship and that they are both fixated on money and restrictive dietary habits.

Over the span of her lengthy career, Madonna also has been rumored to be romantically linked to numerous men and women including John F. Kennedy, Jr., Sandra Bernhard, Prince and Esai Morales in 1988; Lenny Kravitz in 1990; Michael Jackson in 1991; Jose Canseco, Ingrid Casares and Big Daddy Kane in 1992; Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Kiedis in 1993; Charles Barkley and Tupac Shakur in 1994; Chris Paciello in 1997; Billy Zane in 1998; David Blaine and Jenny Shimizu in 1999 before her marriage with Ritchie. But most of these affairs are unconfirmed so far.

On October 10, 2006, Madonna filed adoption papers for a Malawian baby boy named David Banda, whom her family renamed David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie, born September 24, 2005, during her trip to an orphanage in Malawi.

After a passport and visa were issued for the child, Banda was flown out of Malawi on October 16. The adoption raised public controversy about whether special treatment was given to Madonna considering the fact that Malawian law normally requires one year of residence for potential adoptive parents. However, adoption rights groups pointed out that only three visas were issued in 2005 for adopted children to leave Malawi.

Madonna appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on October 25, 2006, to refute the allegations. During the half-hour interview, the singer claimed that there are no written adoption laws in Malawi that regulate foreign adoption and that she had been planning to adopt for two years. She also claimed that Banda had been in critical condition and was suffering from pneumonia after surviving malaria and tuberculosis when she had found him in the orphanage. In addition, Madonna blamed the media for "doing a great disservice to all the orphans of Africa, period, not just the orphans of Malawi", by discouraging people from adopting children from African nations. She stated, "I wanted to go into a Third World countryI wasn't sure whereand give a life to a child who might not otherwise have had one."

On October 22, 2006, it was reported that Yohane Banda, David Banda's birth father, did not understand what "adoption" meant and that he had not realized that he was giving up his son "for good." He had assumed that this arrangement was more like a fostering agreement. A few days later, after the Winfrey interview, he said, "These so-called human rights activists are harassing me every day, threatening me that I am not aware of what I am doing." He was also reported to say, "They want me to support their court case, a thing I cannot do for I know what I agreed with Madonna and her husband." On November 1, 2006, Madonna responded to Banda's comments on an Dateline NBC interview with Meredith Vieira by saying that Yohane Banda had known what he was doing, having refused to accept her offer to financially support him and the child without adopting the child.

Because of Malawi laws, Madonna and Guy Ritchie remain David Banda's foster parents for the required eighteen-month period.

Since the late-1990s, Madonna has become a devotee of the 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 associated with Judaism. The media has reported that Madonna has taken on the Biblical name of Esther and has donated millions of dollars to Kabbalah Centres in London, New York, and Los Angeles. She no longer performs on Friday nights because this is the time when the Jewish Sabbath begins. Madonna 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 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 (15341572), one of the greatest Kabbalists of all time, and claimed that Jewish law forbids using a holy rabbi's name for profit. 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 said in a BBC interview that she believes Christianity is intolerant of questioning, whereas Kabbalah is not. Madonna has also defended Kabbalah against detractors who claim it is a cult designed to extort money from followers.

Despite her career achievements, Madonna has been the target of criticism since the beginning of her career. Reviews about her body of work have generally been mixed and many music critics have put her artistry in doubt, while some have proclaimed her the "Queen of Pop".

A common criticism against Madonna regards her singing voice and vocal range, which some consider to be weak, limited and mannered. She has also been criticized for egocentrism, publicity stunts and a tendency to generate controversy. Joni Mitchell once declared, "She has knocked the importance of talent out of the arena. She's manufactured. She's made a lot of money and become the biggest star in the world by hiring the right people". Other popular entertainers like Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey[citation needed] have expressed disapproval of her artistic abilities, disdain, or criticism against her image and work.

Moments of her career in which Madonna has been heavily criticized include her 1989 music video for "Like a Prayer", the publication of the book Sex and album Erotica in 1992, her 2006 performance of "Live to Tell" during the Confessions Tour, and her adoption of Malawian infant David Banda in 2006.

Much of her career has seen rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church, which has generated criticism in the past. In 1990, when Madonna toured Italy with the Blond Ambition Tour, the Pope encouraged citizens not to attend the concert. The Pope accused Madonna of blasphemy against the Catholic Church (a crime in Italy), and attempted to have her banned from stepping foot on Italian soil[citation needed]. A private association of devout Roman Catholics, called Famiglia Domani, also boycotted the show for many of the same displays of sexual innuendos and eroticism the Pope had denounced.

In response, in a 1990 press conference in Italy, Madonna declared, "I am Italian American and proud of it." In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Madonna said that the Pope's reaction hurt, "because I'm Italian, you know", but in another interview the same year stated that she had ceased to practice Catholicism because the Church "completely frowns on sex... except for procreation". In the summer of 2006, Madonna drew criticism from Vatican officials when she took her Confessions Tour to Rome. Vatican officials claimed that Madonna's performance while hanging off a cross and wearing a crown of thorns was an open attack on Catholicism and should not be performed in the same city as the pope's residence.

In the documentary Italians in America - Our Contribution, author Gay Talese relates Madonna's rebellion against the Catholic Church to her Italian ancestry. Talese claims that Madonna's paternal ancestors come from a region of Southern Italy with a long tradition of rebellion against the Catholic Church. Despite her alleged rebellion, Madonna had both of her biological children baptized in a Roman Catholic Church.

Madonna has received criticism from animal rights groups for wearing fur coats and in the past, was criticized for renting out her house for hunting parties.

Madonna's lyrics have also been panned as simple or even dull by some.

Many critics, however, see Madonna as a talented vocalist and songwriter. She received good reviews for "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" cover on which her performance was described as a "heartfelt vocal". Her vocals on "Live to Tell" were considered her best at the time by some, and the song's lyrics have been described as "poignant.



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