Nicole Garrett, Albion College Archives and Special CollectionsLook00
Madonna at Wembley Arena, during her Confessions Tour, 2006 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
As someone born in the 1980s, I don’t remember much about Madonna. I grew up in dance studios, so I was always familiar with her music. I wasn’t a fan, though, until she collaborated with Britney Spears on “Me Against the Music” in 2003. Seeing Madonna perform with Britney inspired me to buy her greatest hits album and expand my pop culture knowledge back a decade to the Queen of Pop.
Madonna was originally Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. She was born August 16, 1958 in Bay City, Michigan and grew up in Rochester, Michigan. She was the third child of six born to Silvio and Madonna Ciccone. Madonna’s mother died when she was five, and after that, Madonna took on the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings. She attended Catholic school and played the piano as a child but never liked it. In high school, she was involved in theater productions and cheer leading. She also began taking dance lessons and developed a true passion for the art. Soon after beginning her dance training, she quit cheer leading to dedicate all of her free time to dancing.
After graduating a semester early in high school, Madonna attended the University of Michigan on a dance scholarship. She left college early in 1978 to pursue her dance career in New York City. She was hired by the Pearl Lang Dance Company and did an intensive with Alvin Ailey. However, she soon realized that it would take years to make it into a professional dance troupe. Around this time, she joined her boyfriend’s band, playing the drums and singing. Being on stage with the band changed her focus from dancer to singer/performer.
Madonna during her Live 8 Tour, 2008 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
The Queen of Pop
Madonna sang in a few bands and soon obtained a recording contract. Her first single, “Everybody,” was released in 1982 and became an instant dance hit. She recorded her first album a year later and the single “Holiday” shot to number sixteen on the U.S. charts. She had her first number one hit in 1984 with “Like a Virgin”.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Madonna became a pop legend. She has sold over 300 million albums and is the world’s top selling female artist of all time. Her catchy tunes and eccentric ability to surprise have been a formula for success for decades. Other artists have often imitated – but never duplicated – the cultural phenomenon that is Madonna.