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Madonna says Gustafson often made her take care of the younger children in the household, a task she greatly resented.

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Madonna balanced the insubordinate side of her personality with a drive for perfectionism and high achievement. She was a straight-A student, cheerleader and disciplined dancer who graduated from high school a semester earlier than her peers. In , her hard work earned her the attention of the University of Michigan, which offered her a full scholarship to their dance program.

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In , during her undergraduate studies at Michigan, Madonna was awarded a six-week scholarship to study with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, followed by a rare opportunity to perform with choreographer Pearl Lang in At the urging of her dance instructor, the budding star dropped out of college after only two years of study to move to New York and further her dance career. Once in New York, Madonna paid her rent with a handful of odd jobs, including nude art modeling, serving at the Russian Tea Room and performing for the American Dance Center.

In , Madonna began dating Dan Gilroy, one of the founding members of a ska-influenced pop-punk band called Breakfast Club. Gilroy introduced Madonna to the head of a vaudeville review in Paris, and she spent some time in France working as a showgirl.

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During this trip, she fell in love with the combination of singing and performing. When she returned to the United States in , she joined Gilroy's band as its drummer and later became the lead singer. In , Madonna decided to go solo and hired manager Camille Barbone of Gotham Records to help her get her singing career on track. Barbone showed Madonna how to navigate the male-dominated world of the music business, and helped put together a studio band that accentuated the budding star's hip style. Friend Stephen Bray, a musician in her band, wrote her first hit, "Everybody," and Madonna used her brash business style to get the recordings to New York music producer Mark Kamins.

Kamins then helped Madonna score a record deal with Sire Records. The album was a slow but steady success, and included the hit singles "Borderline," "Lucky Star" and "Holiday. This intensity and determination was apparent in her follow-up album, Like a Virgin , which hit No. The title track, produced by Nile Rodgers, would later be listed as Madonna's biggest pop hit of all time, with the song remaining on the top of the charts for six weeks.

She had two other Top 5 hits from the record: the tongue-in-cheek, empowering "Material Girl" and the dance ditty with bounce, "Angel. She also starred in her first mainstream feature film, Desperately Seeking Susan , and performed the soundtrack's single, "Into the Groove," which hit No. Her next single "Crazy for You", which she performed for the film Vision Quest , also became a No.

Over the next five years, Madonna's life was a whirlwind of activity. On August 16, , she married actor Sean Penn and co-starred with him in the film Shanghai Surprise As always, Madonna mixed her drive for success with her penchant for scandalous behavior.

Who Is Madonna?

It started with her controversial performance of her hit single "Like a Virgin" on the MTV Video Music Awards, which involved writhing around suggestively onstage in a wedding dress. Then came her marriage to Penn, which was marred by reports of domestic violence and his assault of a photographer — behavior that landed him a month's jail time and eventually led to the couple's very public divorce.

The video featured interracial relationship themes, burning crosses and a blending of sexual innuendo and religious ideologies. As a result of the video, Pope John Paul II urged fans not to attend her concerts in Italy, and Pepsi pulled their endorsement of the star. Despite the public outcry, Madonna had become more popular than ever. The Like a Prayer album spawned a No. She also continued to gain attention by pushing social boundaries. First came the film Truth or Dare , a revealing documentary about her Blonde Ambition tour.

This was followed by the publishing of Sex , a soft-core pornographic coffee-table book featuring the pop star in a variety of erotic poses. Despite its controversial nature, Sex sold , copies on the day of its release in the United States alone. Three days later, all 1.

The album Erotica was unveiled at the same time and proved equally successful.


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By the end of , the album had reached double-platinum status. Bedtime Stories came next in , with its groovy lead single "Secret" and the beautifully melancholic "Take a Bow. By , Madonna had proven her versatility as a star in both film and music. She starred in the critically acclaimed screen adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita , which also featured Antonio Banderas.

Madonna had released the greatest hits album The Immaculate Collection in , following that years later with Something to Remember , a round-up of her balladry that included the new song "You'll See. Then came Music , another successful electronic project, this time with more overt, unpredictable dance leanings and the bulk of production handled by French whiz Mirwais.

The pop star then made the move from the big screen to the London West End stage in the play Up for Grabs and wrote her first children's book, The English Roses , which was published in , the same year as the release of her album American Life. Madonna was inducted into the inaugural U. Around this time Madonna became the artist with the most gold-certified singles in the United States, beating The Beatles ' longstanding record.

Her professional life continued to boom: In January , she was named the world's wealthiest female musician by Forbes magazine. She also continued to sing, act and manage a number of business interests, splitting her time between the United Kingdom and the United States. Her album Hard Candy was released in April of the same year, and her Sticky and Sweet tour became her first major venture with concert promoter Live Nation. In , she released a fourth greatest hits album, Celebration , which became Madonna's eleventh No.

Edward gave up his crown to marry Simpson, and the couple became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Working behind the camera, Madonna co-wrote and directed this romantic drama, which received decidedly mixed reviews. She, however, did pick up a Golden Globe for an original song she co-wrote and sung for the film, "Masterpiece.

Ahead of the show, many football fans complained about her selection as part of the halftime entertainment. Her musical guest, M. On her tour to support the record, she courted controversy. Madonna occasionally flashed her audiences and used Nazi imagery while performing in France. At a concert in St.

Through , Madonna was reportedly at work on her next album, said to be collaborating with producers like Avicii and Diplo as seen via Instagram. In December of that year, however, more than a dozen songs planned for her album Rebel Heart were leaked online. An Israeli singer was later arrested and indicted for the thefts related to the leak.

To counterattack the theft, Madonna released six songs online before Christmas, with the tracks reaching the Top 10 of iTunes' charts in various countries.

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