Born in 1958 near Detroit, Madonna Ciccone is the oldest daughter of an engineer and a housewife mother of 8 children (Madonna's mother died of cancer when she was only 6 years old). Ever since she was a little girl she demonstrated her artistic abilities by having piano and ballet lessons and cheerleading. She went to Rochester Adams High School and graduated in 1976. With her dancing skills Madonna got a scholarship at the University of Michigan. In 1978, the singer was already searching for stardom, dropping everything and moving to New York. Some say Madonna arrived in Times Square with only 35 dollars in her pocket and a lot of ambition in her mind.
In the Big Apple, Madonna had several jobs, including waitressing at Dunkin' Donuts. From there on the ambitious blonde joined Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham dance groups, after realizing she was more into music than anything else. In the early 80's she started to learn guitar and play the piano again. Madonna had her first small concerts in dance clubs, attracting people with her enthusiasm and performance on stage. In 1982, DJ Mark Kamins remixed the demo of "Everybody" and showed it to Warner Bros. record label, who offered Madonna a contract for one record. The album was a huge hit and songs like "Holiday," "Lucky Star," and "Border Line" became instant hits. Some songs were filmed into video clips (MTV was just starting back then), where Madonna showed her intriguing style, wearing and abusing religious accessories mixed with necklaces, earrings, skirts, and tight tops, setting a trend that spread worldwide. In 1984, Warner Bros. released the album Like a Virgin. The title song became Madonna's most played song to date and the album was an instant #1 hit. Madonna sold more singles and albums than any other artist in 1985.
Reaching stardom, Madonna went out on tour. Anywhere she went the tickets were quickly sold out. She also made appearances in movies like "Vision Quest" and "Desperately Seeking Susan" in 1985 and made her theatrical debut in Goose and Tom-Tom. Madonna met her first husband, actor Sean Penn, when they were shooting the movie Shangai Surprise together in 1986. They divorced 4 years later.
In 1989, the album Like a Prayer was an enormous hit, thanks in great part to the polemic video of the title song. The controversy caused by the video in which Madonna danced around crosses on fire and kissed an African American saint on the mouth resulted in the withdrawal of Pepsi's sponsorship for her tour. She quickly learned that a good scandal can sell a lot of records. The singer didn't miss the opportunity of launching the documentary "Truth or Dare" in 1991 about her life and the soft-porn photo album Sex in 1992, inspired by her latest album Erotica.
In 1992, Madonna confirmed her place among the biggest stars of all time by signing a multi-millionaire contract with Time Warner, creating her own label, Maverick Records and bringing stars like Alanis Morrissette and Prodigy into the music world. A lot of surprises were still waiting for Madonna: on October 14, 1996 little Lourdes Maria Ciccone was born, the result of an affair of Madonna's with her Cuban personal trainer, Carlos Leon. The singer also pushed her acting career in the musical "Evita," taking home the Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical.
With the arrival of her daughter, Madonna abandoned the provocative and rebellious image and somehow her maternal instincts turned her into a more solid, spiritual, and self-confident artist.
In 1998, Madonna launched a new album, Ray of Light, with more introspective - and yet dancing - songs, showing all her versatility and competence as a singer, business administrator, mother and actress. She recently married British director Guy Ritchie, with whom she had her first son, Rocco, in 2000.