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Lady Gaga Bio
Lady Gaga (born March 28, 1986 as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She initially performed in theater, appearing in high school plays, and studied at CAP21 through New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career. After leaving a rock band, participating in the Lower East Side‘s avant garde performance art circuit, and being dropped from a contract with Def Jam Recordings, Gaga worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. There, recording artist Akon noticed her vocal abilities and helped her to sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own KonLive Distribution.
Her debut album The Fame (2008) was a critical and commercial success that produced global chart-topping singles such as “Just Dance” and “Poker Face“. A follow-up extended play (EP), The Fame Monster (2009), was met with a similar reception and “Bad Romance“, “Telephone“, and “Alejandro” were released becoming successful singles. Her second full-length album Born This Way was released in 2011, topping the charts in more than 20 countries, including the United States, where it sold over one million copies in its first week. The album produced the number-one single “Born This Way“. Her third album Artpop, released in 2013, topped the US charts and included the successful single “Applause“. In 2014, Gaga released a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek, which became her third consecutive number one in the United States. For her work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga won a Golden Globe Award in 2016.
With global album and single sales of 27 million and 146 million respectively, as of January 2016, she is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Her achievements include twelve Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, and six Grammy Awards. She is also the first artist to win the Songwriters Hall of Fame‘s Contemporary Icon Award. Other accolades include a Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (2011), regular appearances on Billboard‘s Artists of the Year lists and Forbes‘s power and earnings rankings. In 2013, Gaga finished second on Time‘s readers’ poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, while in 2015, she was named Billboard‘s Woman of the Year. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights and her own non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.
1986–2004: Early life
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, at the Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan‘s Upper East Side to a Catholic family. She is the elder daughter of Cynthia Louise “Cindy” (Bissett) and Internet entrepreneur Joseph Anthony “Joe” Germanotta, Jr. Gaga is of 75 percent Italian descent, and also has French Canadian ancestry. Gaga’s sister Natali is a fashion student. Despite her affluent upbringing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she says that her parents “both came from lower-class families, so we’ve worked for everything—my mother worked eight to eight out of the house, in telecommunications, and so did my father.” From age eleven, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She described her academic life in high school as “very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined” but also “a bit insecure”. “I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn’t fit in, and I felt like a freak.” Gaga began playing the piano at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at thirteen, and started to perform at open mic nights by the age of fourteen. She performed lead roles in high school productions, including Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. She also appeared in a very small role as a mischievous classmate in the television drama series The Sopranos in a 2001 episode titled “The Telltale Moozadell“. She auditioned for New York shows without success. She also studied method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for ten years.
After high school, her mother encouraged her to apply for the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), a musical theater training conservatory at New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts. One of 20 students to gain early admission, she, aged 17, lived in an NYU dorm on 11th Street. In addition to sharpening her songwriting skills, she composed essays and analytical papers on art, religion, social issues, and politics, including a thesis on pop artists Spencer Tunick and Damien Hirst. She also auditioned for various roles and won the part of an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV’s Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.
2005–2007: Career beginnings
At age 19, Gaga withdrew from CAP21 in the second semester of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on her musical career. In the mid-2005, Gaga recorded a couple of songs with hip-hop singer Grandmaster Melle Mel, for an audio book accompanying Cricket Casey’s children’s book The Portal in the Park. She also formed a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band (SGBand) with some friends from NYU. The band played at gigs around New York becoming a local fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene. After the 2006 Songwriters Hall of Fame New Songwriters Showcase at The Cutting Room in June, Gaga was recommended to music producer Rob Fusari by talent scout Wendy Starland. Fusari collaborated with Gaga, who traveled daily to New Jersey, to work on songs she had written and to compose new material with him. According to the producer, they began dating in May 2006, and he claimed to have created the “Lady Gaga” moniker after the Queen song “Radio Ga Ga“. The singer was in the process of trying to come up with a stage name when she received a text message from Fusari that read “Lady Gaga”. He explained, “Every day, when Stef came to the studio, instead of saying hello, I would start singing ‘Radio Ga Ga'”. The text message was the result of a predictive text glitch that changed “radio” to “lady”. Fusari said she texted back, “That’s it”, and declared, “Don’t ever call me Stefani again.”
Fusari and Gaga established a company called Team Lovechild LLC to promote her career. They recorded and produced electropop tracks and sent them to music industry executives. Joshua Sarubin, the head of A&R at Def Jam Recordings, responded positively and after agreement from his boss, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Gaga was signed to Def Jam in September 2006. However, she was dropped by the label after only three months – a period of her life that later inspired the music video of her 2011 single “Marry the Night“. Devastated, Gaga returned to the solace of the family home for Christmas and the nightlife culture of the Lower East Side. She became increasingly experimental: fascinating herself with emerging neo-burlesque shows, go-go dancing at bars dressed in little more than a bikini, in addition to experimenting with drugs. Gaga explained her antics represented freedom: “I went to a Catholic school but it was on the New York underground that I found myself.” Her relationship with Fusari ended in January 2007 following which she became romantically involved with a heavy metal drummer. She compared this relationship and the subsequent breakup to the musical film Grease: “I was his Sandy, and he was my Danny, and I just broke.”
During this time, she met performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped mold her onstage persona. Like SGBand, the pair soon began performing at many of the downtown club venues like the Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and the Rockwood Music Hall. Their live performance art piece was known as “Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue” and, billed as “The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow”, was a low-fi tribute to 1970s variety acts. Their performance at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival was critically acclaimed.
Having initially focused on avant-garde electronic dance music, Gaga found her musical niche when she began to incorporate pop melodies and the glam rock of David Bowie and Queen into her music. While Gaga and Starlight were busy performing, Fusari continued to work on the songs he had created with Gaga. He sent these songs to his friend, producer and record executive Vincent Herbert. The latter was quick to sign her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, established in 2007. Gaga later credited Herbert as the man who discovered her, adding: “I really feel like we made pop history, and we’re gonna keep going.” Having served as an apprentice songwriter during an internship at Famous Music Publishing, (later acquired by Sony/ATV Music Publishing), Gaga subsequently struck a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV. As a result, she was hired to write songs for Britney Spears and label mates New Kids on the Block, Fergie, and The Pussycat Dolls. At Interscope, singer-songwriter Akon recognized her vocal abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio. Akon then convinced Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman and CEO Jimmy Iovine to form a joint deal by having her also sign with his own label Kon Live, making her his “franchise player”.
Towards the end of 2007, Gaga met with songwriter and producer RedOne. Gaga collaborated with him in the recording studio for a week on her debut album, and also joined the roster of Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum; she also wrote four songs with Kierszenbaum. Despite her secure record deal, she admitted that there was fear about her being too “racy”, “dance-oriented” and “underground” for the mainstream market. Her response: “My name is Lady Gaga, I’ve been on the music scene for years, and I’m telling you, this is what’s next.”
2008–2010: The Fame and The Fame Monster
By 2008, Gaga relocated to Los Angeles in order to work extensively with her record label to complete her debut album, The Fame, and set up her own creative team called the Haus of Gaga, modeled on Andy Warhol‘s Factory. The Fame was released on August 19, 2008, with positive reception. Critics noted the album’s combination of genres, “from Def Leppard drums and hand claps to metal drums on urban tracks“, the inspiration drawn from 1980s synthpop and incorporation of dance music. The Fame went to number one in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK and appeared in the top five in Australia, the US and 15 other countries. Its first two singles, “Just Dance” and “Poker Face“, became worldwide commercial successes. “Poker Face” won the award for Best Dance Recording at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards while The Fame won Best Dance/Electronica Album at the same ceremony. Three other successful singles were released from the album—”Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)“, “LoveGame“, and “Paparazzi“.
Following her opening act on The Pussycat Dolls‘ 2009 Doll Domination Tour in Europe and Oceania, Gaga embarked on her own worldwide The Fame Ball Tour, which ran from March to September 2009. While she traveled the globe, Gaga released The Fame Monster, an EP of eight songs, in November 2009. Each song dealt with the darker side of fame from personal experience, expressed through a monster metaphor. Lead single “Bad Romance” topped the charts in 18 countries and reached number two in the US, Australia and New Zealand; it won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video. Two other singles were released from the EP, “Telephone” (featuring Beyoncé) and “Alejandro“. The former became Gaga’s fourth UK number one single, while the latter faced controversy for its music video, which was deemed blasphemous by the Catholic League. Despite the controversy surrounding her music videos, Gaga became the first artist to gain over one billion viral views on video-sharing website YouTube. At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga won 8 of her 13 nominations, including Video of the Year for “Bad Romance”. In addition, The Fame Monster won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. Gaga also released, The Remix, which became her final record with Cherrytree Records. Forbes first listed Gaga on their 2010 Celebrity 100 and World’s Most Powerful Women lists ranking her fourth and seventh, respectively.
The success of The Fame and The Fame Monster allowed Gaga to start her second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball Tour, just weeks after finishing The Fame Ball Tour. Critically and commercially successful, the tour began in November 2009 and ended in May 2011, and grossed $227.4 million, making it the highest-grossing for a debut headlining artist. Concerts performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City were filmed for an HBO television special titled Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden. Gaga also performed songs from the albums at international events such as the 2009 Royal Variety Performance, 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, and the 2010 BRIT Awards. Other performances might have included her participation in Michael Jackson‘s This Is It concert series at London’s O2 Arena had he not died of a drug overdose. Gaga clarified that she was: “actually asked to open for Michael on his tour… We were going to open for him at the O2 and we were working on making it happen. I believe there was some talk about us, lots of the openers, doing duets with Michael on stage.”
During this era Gaga ventured into business, collaborating with consumer electronics company Monster Cable Products to create a pair of in-ear, jewel-encrusted, headphones titled Heartbeats. “They are designed to be the first ever fashion accessories that double as the absolute best sonically sounding headphones in the world,” she commented. Gaga also partnered with Polaroid in January 2010 as their Creative Director and revealed a trio of new photo capturing products called Grey Label. But her collaboration with past producer, and ex-boyfriend, Rob Fusari led to her production team, Mermaid Music LLC, being sued in March 2010 when he claimed that he was entitled to a 20% share of the company’s earnings. The New York Supreme Court dismissed both the lawsuit and a countersuit by Gaga. In addition to such strife, Gaga was tested borderline positive for lupus, but claimed not to be affected by the symptoms. The singer addressed the matter in an interview with Larry King, saying she hopes to avoid symptoms by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
2011–2014: Born This Way, Artpop and Cheek to Cheek
In February 2011, Gaga released the lead single “Born This Way” from her studio album of the same name. The song debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 1,000th number-one single in the history of the charts. Its second single “Judas” also peaked within the top ten in several major musical markets, while “The Edge of Glory“, first a commercial success in digital outlets, was later released as a single to rave critical reviews. Born This Way, released on May 23, 2011, debuted atop the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.108 million copies, and topped the charts in more than 20 other countries. The album sold eight million copies worldwide, and received three Grammy Award nominations, including her third Album of the Year listing. The album’s following singles “You and I” and “Marry the Night” failed to match the international success. In July 2011, she started dating actor and model Taylor Kinney, whom she met while filming the “You and I” music video. The accompanying tour for Born This Way, titled the Born This Way Ball, began in April 2012 and concluded in February 2013. Some of the tour’s shows were cancelled due to a labral tear of her right hip. Shortly thereafter Gaga confirmed that she had hip surgery, and was recovering. The tour earned $186.82 million globally. Gaga was ranked as the second most-played artist of 2011 in the United Kingdom by the PPL. She also topped the Celebrity 100 List, with earnings of US$90 million, and was the highest ranked entertainer on Forbes World’s Most Powerful Women in the eleventh position. In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth on Billboard‘s list of top moneymakers of 2011 with earnings of $25 million, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour.
During this period, Gaga recorded a jazz version of “The Lady Is a Tramp” with Tony Bennett and lent her vocals to a song with Elton John for the animated feature film, Gnomeo & Juliet. She held a concert at the Sydney Town Hall, Australia, to promote Born This Way, and at the celebration of former US president Bill Clinton‘s 65th birthday. Later that year, Gaga directed the critically acclaimed Thanksgiving Day television special, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, which attained 5.749 million American viewers, and spawned the release of her fourth EP, A Very Gaga Holiday. In May 2012, Gaga guest-starred as an animated version of herself on the 23rd season finale of The Simpsons, titled “Lisa Goes Gaga“. She also appeared in Tony Bennett’s documentary film, The Zen of Bennett (2012). The following month, she announced her first fragrance in association with Coty, Inc., Lady Gaga Fame, which was released worldwide in September 2012.
New songs for Gaga’s third studio album, Artpop, were beginning to take definite form as she worked with producer Fernando Garibay in early 2012. Work on the album continued well into the Born This Way Ball tour. She yearned to make audiences have “a really good time” with Artpop, crafting the album to mirror “a night at the club”. Artpop was released in November 2013. Despite mixed reviews, it debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, and has sold 2.5 million copies as of July 2014. The album spawned successful singles in “Applause” and “Do What U Want“, featuring R&B singer R. Kelly. A third release, “G.U.Y.“, became Gaga’s weakest performing single to date. Gaga embarked on the accompanying ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour several months later, building upon concepts from her ArtRave promotional event. Scooping up $83 million, the itinerary saw her visit new cities and several locations initially included in the Born This Way Ball tour. Meanwhile, Gaga split from longtime manager Troy Carter over “creative differences”, and by June 2014, she and new manager Bobby Campbell joined Artist Nation, the artist management division of Live Nation Entertainment. She topped Forbes‘ List of Top-Earning Celebs Under 30, and ranked second on the Celebrity 100 List and Time‘s anniversary poll of the most influential people of the past ten years.
Gaga starred in Robert Rodriguez‘s Machete Kills (2013), a critical and commercial failure that earned her a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress nomination. The singer also hosted the November 16, 2013 episode of Saturday Night Live, where she performed “Do What U Want” (with Kelly) and an album cut, “Gypsy“. Later that month, she held her second Thanksgiving Day television special on ABC, Lady Gaga and the Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular. Gaga had a cameo in another Robert Rodriguez film, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, released on August 22, 2014. She was confirmed as the Versace‘s spring-summer 2014 face with a campaign called “Lady Gaga For Versace”.
In 2014, Gaga collaborated with American jazz singer Tony Bennett on the jazz album Cheek to Cheek. She explained her inspiration behind the album: “Cheek to Cheek came out of a very organic friendship and relationship that Tony and I have built over the years and it truly was a collaborative effort… I’ve been singing jazz since I was a child and really wanted to show the authentic side of the genre.” The album received generally favorable reviews, with Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian praising Gaga’s vocals in it, and Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich wrote that “Cheek to Cheek serves up the real thing, start to finish”. The album debuted atop the Billboard 200, becoming Gaga’s third consecutive number-one record in the United States, and went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. The duo recorded a concert special, called Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live!, and embarked on the Cheek to Cheek Tour, which began in December 2014 and concluded in August 2015. The same year, Gaga also had a seven-day residency show commemorating the final performance at New York’s Roseland Ballroom before its closure. She also released her second fragrance in association with Coty Inc., named Eau de Gaga.
2015–present: American Horror Story and Joanne
In February 2015, Gaga became engaged to Taylor Kinney. At the 87th Academy Awards, she performed a tribute to The Sound of Music, singing a medley of songs from the film. Singing in a cut-glass English accent, the performance triggered over 214,000 interactions per minute globally on Facebook, and she was later greeted on stage by Julie Andrews who played Maria in the film. Gaga performed a piano version of John Lennon‘s “Imagine” at the opening ceremony of the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. Gaga and Diane Warren co-wrote a song titled “Til It Happens to You” for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which earned them the Satellite Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award nomination in the same category. On October 2, 2015, a fashion film, directed by Nick Knight, was released for Tom Ford‘s 2016 spring campaign, which depicts Gaga among several models dancing around a catwalk. It featured a new version of Chic‘s “I Want Your Love“, recorded by Gaga in collaboration with Nile Rodgers. Some of the accolades received by the singer in 2016 included the Contemporary Icon Award at the 2015 Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards, the Young Artist Award at the 2015 National Arts Awards, and being ranked number 25 as the third female singer on the 2015 Forbes Celebrity 100 list, with earnings of US$59 million. Billboard also named Gaga its 2015 Woman of the Year. In November 2015, Gaga and Bennett were featured in a commercial for Barnes & Noble‘s 2015 holiday campaign, for which they recorded a rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside“.
Gaga starred in American Horror Story: Hotel, the fifth season of American Horror Story, which ran from October 2015 to January 2016. She played Elizabeth, the owner of the titular hotel. Despite her performance receiving mixed reviews, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film at the 2016 ceremony. Following her win, she signed with the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) having previously been signed with William Morris Endeavor (WME). In January 2016, Gaga was invited to be the guest editor for the V magazine for its 99th issue, which features sixteen different covers. She subsequently received the award for Editor of the Year for her work on the magazine in March during the Fashion Los Angeles Awards. On April 4, 2016, she was honored at the Jane Ortner Education Award by The Grammy Museum, with the Jane Ortner Artist Award, which recognizes artists who has demonstrated passion and dedication to education through the arts. Gaga and Elton John released a clothing and accessories line at Macy’s on May 9, 2016, to support their charities. Her live performances in 2016 included singing the US national anthem on February 7, at Super Bowl 50, partnering with Intel and Nile Rodgers for a tribute performance to the late David Bowie at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, and singing “Til It Happens to You” at the 88th Academy Awards, where she was introduced by Joe Biden and accompanied on-stage by 50 sexual assault survivors.
In August 2016, Warner Bros. confirmed that Gaga would star in Bradley Cooper‘s remake of the 1954 musical drama film, A Star Is Born, and create new music for the film. Filming is scheduled to commence in 2017. Gaga also appeared on American Horror Story: Roanoke, the sixth season of American Horror Story, which runs from September to November 2016. She played the recurring role of Scathach. On September 29, 2016, NFL announced that Gaga would perform at the Super Bowl LI halftime show on February 5, 2017. Her fifth album, Joanne, was released on October 21, 2016. Its first single, “Perfect Illusion“, was released that September and debuted at number one in France. To promote the album, Gaga embarked on a 3-date tour, sponsored by Bud Light, called Dive Bar Tour.
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