Singer Madonna Photo By Adam Sammler

Published on July 17th, 2009 | by Yellow Magpie

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Madonna: Controversial And Talented Pop Icon

Madonna Louise Vericona Ciccone was born into an Italian family in Bay City Michigan, on August 16, 1958.

Her father Sylvio ‘Tony’ Ciccone was a design engineer, working for General Motors. Her mother, Madonna Fortin, died at the age of 30 with breast cancer. Madonna Louise was only six years old at the time.

Madonna Photo By David Shankbone Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Madonna Photo By David Shankbone Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence
Madonna’s Early Life

Madonna grew up in a strict Catholic home, with numerous holy pictures adorning the walls. Priests and nuns were frequent visitors to the house.

Controversially, Madonna was later to incorporate some of these influences into her musical career. In the 1970s Madonna went to the University of Michigan, on a dance scholarship. However, she only stayed for two years, before moving to New York, where she studied dance with choreographer Alvin Ailey.

Music Career

In 1979 she began dancing with the Patrick Hernandez Revue. After that, she joined with Dan Gilroy to form the band Breakfast Club. When she left the Breakfast Club she joined forces with former boyfriend Stephen Bray to form the band Emmy. The band was successful and produced two New York Club hits, ‘Everybody’, and ‘Physical Attraction

Madonna broke away from the club disco scene and into mainstream pop, with her next single, ‘Holiday. The song was a US top twenty hit in 1983, and made the top ten in Europe, it was the song that was to launch Madonna into the stratosphere.

Madonna In 1990 Photo By Alan Light

Madonna In 1990 Photo By Alan Light

Use of Controversy

Madonna quickly became famous for her raunchy style and Marilyn Monroe-like, blonde bombshell persona. Never afraid to court controversy, Madonna’s song ‘Like a Virgin’ was one of the biggest hits of 1985. She dedicated the song to the pope, when she sang it, in Rome. The church had earlier been critical of her use of a crucifix in one of her stage shows.

1985, was a busy and successful year, for Madonna.  She appeared in her first film Desperately Seeking Susan, and performed in the Live Aid Concert, it was also the year she  married actor Sean Penn, which she did on her birthday August 16.

Madonna Photo By jdeeringdavis Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Madonna Photo By jdeeringdavis Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Between 1985 and 1987, Madonna produced a string of hits, including, ‘Crazy for You’, ‘Into the Groove’, ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, ‘La Isla Bonita’ and ‘Who’s that Girl’.

However, her career began to take a nose dive following the flop of her next film Shanghai Surprise, with husband Sean Penn. In 1988, she appeared on Broadway in a play by David Mamet called ‘Speed The Plow’. She separated from Penn, that same year. Madonna began to be viewed by many as a ‘has been’.

Madonna MDNA Tour Photo By Pascal Mannaerts  www.parcheminsdailleurs.com Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Madonna MDNA Tour Photo By Pascal Mannaerts  www.parcheminsdailleurs.com Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Revolving Reinvention

But her decline, was short-lived, and with her uncanny ability to re-invent herself, in 1989, she again drew down the ire of the Vatican, when she recorded ‘Like A Prayer’, the video of the song, was slammed by the church for linking religion with eroticism. But the publicity only served to help sell more albums for Madonna, and it became a best seller across the world.

Madonna was catapulted into the spotlight once again for her book, ‘Sex’ which was launched amidst a hail of publicity. The book flew off the shelves, and went into an immediate reprint. In 1996, she appeared in the movie Evita based on the life of Eva Peron. Her performance won her a golden globe.

Later that year on October 14, she gave birth to her first child, with her personal trainer Carlos Leon, she called the baby girl Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon.

Madonna Photo By Ed Van-West Garcia Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Madonna Photo By Ed Van-West Garcia Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

In 1998, she released the album ‘Ray of Light’, for which she won 3 Grammy Awards. At the beginning of the new millennium, she released another successful album ‘Music’, the title song and ‘Don’t tell Me’, were mega hits for Madonna. Later that year, she met British Film Director, Guy Richie. Two years later she gave birth to her second child, a boy called Rocco Richie. In 2000, the couple married in Scotland.

2003 was the first time since her rise to stardom, that her music received less than complimentary reviews for her album American Life, in which she expresses her feelings about the war in Iraq.

Centre of Attention

More controversy was to follow when later that year, Madonna appeared on stage with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera for the MTV Video Music Awards. The performance ended with Madonna kissing Spears and then Aguileara on the lips.

In September, that same year, Madonna published her first children’s book, ‘The English Roses’, saying she wanted to help young girls and in the process help herself.

Madonna was again at the centre of media attention, when in 2003, she began the process of adopting a baby boy from Malawi. Human rights groups were less than impressed, with many saying she had used her wealth as a way to fast track the adoption. Madonna said she couldn’t understand why they were criticising her.

However, in 2008, the process was completed and the baby was officially adopted by Madonna and Richie.

Madonna Girlie Tour Photo By Hans Schaft Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Madonna Girlie Tour Photo By Hans Schaft Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Madonna Divorce

In October that year, Madonna and Guy Richie, divorced.

In 2009, Madonna returned to Malawi, to adopt another child, this time it was a three year old girl, named Mercy James. She again encountered difficulties, but eventually the Supreme Court, allowed her to adopt the child.

No doubt, Madonna will continue to make the news in the coming years, whether it be for her music, or whatever she decides to do next. Her chameleon like ability ensures she will always be the centre of attention.


Further Reading

Check out Yellow Magpie’s Marilyn Monroe: The Original Blonde Bombshell to see what Madonna loved about Marilyn.

Life With My Sister Madonna is a biography written by her brother, Christopher. Full of fascinating insights, it shows the complexities of Madonna’s personalities and her dysfunctional relationship with her brother who was with her every step as she rose to stardom. It is a highly interesting and informative read.

Amazon.co.uk
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access Life With My Sister Madonna here.

Amazon.ca
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain Life With My Sister Madonna from here.

Amazon.de
For Germany: Life With My Sister Madonna.

Amazon.fr
For France: Life With My Sister Madonna.


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