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Madonna (born Madonna Louise Ciccone; August 16, 1958 is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance.
She followed it with a series of albums that attained immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Throughout her career, many of her songs have hit number one on the record charts, including "Like a Virgin", "Papa Don't Preach", "Like a Prayer", "Vogue", "Frozen", "Music", "Hung Up", and "4 Minutes". Critics have praised Madonna for her diverse musical productions while at the same time serving as a lightning rod for religious controversy.
Her career was further enhanced by film appearances that began in 1979, despite mixed commentary. She won critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her role in Evita (1996), but has received harsh feedback for other film roles. Madonna's other ventures include being a fashion designer, children's book author, film director and producer. Madonna has been acclaimed as a businesswoman. In 1992, she founded entertainment company Maverick as a joint venture with Time Warner. In 2007, she signed an unprecedented US $120 million contract with Live Nation.
Madonna has sold more than 300 million records worldwide and is recognized as the world's top-selling female recording artist of all time by the Guinness World Records. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second top-selling female artist in the United States, behind Barbra Streisand, with 64 million certified albums. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two, behind only The Beatles, on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, making her the most successful solo artist in the history of the Billboard chart. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the same year. Considered to be one of the "25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century" by Time for being an influential figure in contemporary music, Madonna is known for continuously reinventing both her music and image, and for retaining a standard of autonomy within the recording industry.
Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan, on August 16, 1958. Her father, Silvio Anthony Ciccone, is a first-generation Italian American, while her mother, Madonna Louise (née Fortin), was of French Canadian descent. The Ciccone family originated from Pacentro, Italy; her father later worked as a design engineer for Chrysler and General Motors. Madonna was nicknamed "Little Nonni" to distinguish her from her mother. The third of six children from the same two parents, her full-blood siblings are: Martin, Anthony, Paula, Christopher, and Melanie.
Madonna was raised Roman Catholic. Upon receiving confirmation, she adopted Veronica as an additional confirmation name. She was raised in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Avon Township (now part of Rochester Hills).
Her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 30 in 1963. Months before her mother's death, Madonna noticed changes in her behavior and personality from the attentive homemaker she was, although she did not understand the reason. Mrs. Ciccone, at a loss to explain her dire medical condition, would often begin to cry when questioned by Madonna, at which point Madonna would respond by wrapping her arms around her mother tenderly. "I remember feeling stronger than she was," Madonna recalled, "I was so little and yet I felt like she was the child." Madonna later acknowledged that she had not grasped the concept of her mother dying. "There was so much left unsaid, so many untangled and unresolved emotions, of remorse, guilt, loss, anger, confusion. I saw my mother, looking very beautiful and lying as if she were asleep in an open casket. Then I noticed that my mother's mouth looked funny. It took me some time to realize that it had been sewn up. In that awful moment, I began to understand what I had lost forever. The final image of my mother, at once peaceful yet grotesque, haunts me today also."
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