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Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta born March 28, 1986), known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, activist, businesswoman, fashion designer, actress and philanthropist. Born and raised in New York City, she primarily studied at the Convent of the Sacred Heart and briefly attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before withdrawing to focus on her musical career. She began performing in the rock music scene of Manhattan's Lower East Side, and was signed with Streamline Records by the end of 2007. During her employment as a songwriter for the record company, her vocal abilities captured the attention of recording artist Akon, who signed her to his label Kon Live Distribution. Lady Gaga came to prominence as a recording artist following the release of her debut album, The Fame (2008), which was a critical and commercial success that topped charts around the world and included the international number-one singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". After embarking on the The Fame Ball Tour, she followed the album with The Fame Monster (2009), which spawned the worldwide hit singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro". The Fame Monster's success allowed her to embark on the eighteen-month long Monster Ball Tour, which later became one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time. Her most recent album, Born This Way (2011), topped the charts of most major markets and generated more international chart-topping singles, including "Born This Way", "Judas", and "The Edge of Glory". Influenced by David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Queen, Lady Gaga is recognized for her flamboyant, diverse and outré contributions to the music industry through her fashion, performances and music videos. As of October 2011, she has sold an estimated 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide and her singles are some of the best selling worldwide.Her achievements include five Grammy Awards and 13 MTV Video Music Awards. Lady Gaga has consecutively appeared on Billboardmagazine's Artists of the Year (scoring the definitive title in 2010), ranked fourth in VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women in Music, is regularly placed on lists composed by Forbes magazine and was named one of the most influential people in the world by Timemagazine. Besides her musical career, she involves herself with humanitarian causes and LGBT activism. 1986–2004: Early lifeLife and careerManhattan's Upper West Side, where Gaga grew up, has been an inspiration for many of her songs. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, in New York City, to Cynthia (née Bissett) and Joseph Germanotta, an internet entrepreneur. Descending from Sicilian/Italian and more distant French-Canadian roots, Gaga is the elder of two children. Her sister, Natali, a fashion student, was born in 1992. Despite her affluent upbringing on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Gaga says that her parents "both came from lower-class families, so we've worked for everything—my mother worked eight to eight out of the house, in telecommunications, and so did my father." Gaga was raised Roman Catholic. From age eleven she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girls Roman Catholic school on Manhattan's Upper East Side. She described her academic life in high school as "very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined" but also "a bit insecure": "I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn't fit in, and I felt like a freak." Acquaintances dispute that she did not fit in at school. Gaga began playing the piano at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at thirteen, and started to perform at open mike nights by the age of fourteen. She performed lead roles in high school productions, including Adelaide inGuys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. She also appeared in a very small role as a mischievous classmate in the television drama series The Sopranos in a 2001 episode titled "The Telltale Moozadell" and auditioned for New York shows without success.After high school, her mother encouraged her to apply for the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), a musical theatre training conservatory at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. By age seventeen, after becoming one of twenty students to gain early admission, she lived in an NYU dorm on 11th Street. In addition to sharpening her songwriting skills, she composed essays and analytical papers on art, religion, social issues and politics, including a thesis on pop artists Spencer Tunick and Damien Hirst. She also auditioned for various roles and won the part of an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV's Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.2005–07: Career beginningsGaga (right) performing with Lady Starlight (left) at Lollapalooza 2007 Gaga withdrew from CAP21 at 19, in the second semester of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on her musical career. Her father agreed to pay her rent for a year, on the condition that she re-enroll at Tisch if unsuccessful. "I left my entire family, got the cheapest apartment I could find, and ate shit until somebody would listen," she remembers. Settled in a small apartment on Rivington Streettowards the summer of 2005, Gaga recorded a couple of songs with hip-hop singer Grandmaster Melle Mel, for an audio book accompanying the children's book The Portal in the Park, by Cricket Casey. She also began a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band (SGBand) with some friends from NYU – guitarist Calvin Pia, bassist Eli Silverman, drummer Alex Beckham and booking managerFrank Fredericks – in September of that year. The band played a mixture of songs: some self-penned alongside classic rock numbers like Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er". Playing in bars like the Greenwich Village's The Bitter End and the Lower East Side's theMercury Lounge, the band developed a small fan base and caught the eye of music producer Joe Vulpis. Soon after arranging time in Vulpis' studio in the months that followed, SGBand were selling their extended plays Words and Red and Blue (both 2005) at gigs around New York while becoming a local fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene. SGBand reached their career peak at the 2006Songwriters Hall of Fame New Songwriters Showcase at The Cutting Room in June where Wendy Starland, a musician, appeared as a talent scout for music producer Rob Fusari. Starland informed Fusari – who was searching for a female singer to front a new band – of Gaga's ability and contacted her. With SGBand disbanded, Gaga traveled daily to New Jersey to work on songs she had written and compose new material with the music producer. While in collaboration, Fusari compared some of her vocal harmonies to those of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen.Fusari claims to have created the "Lady Gaga" moniker after the Queen song "Radio Ga Ga". Gaga was in the process of trying to come up with a stage name when she received a text message from Fusari that read "Lady Gaga." He explained, "Every day, when Stef came to the studio, instead of saying hello, I would start singing 'Radio Ga Ga'. That was her entrance song" and that the text message was the result of a predictive text glitch that changed "radio" to "lady". She texted back, "That's it," and declared, "Don't ever call me Stefani again."The New York Post, however, has doubted the accuracy of this version of events, and claims that the name resulted from a marketing meeting.Although the musical relationship between Fusari and Gaga was unsuccessful at first, the pair soon set up a company titled Team Lovechild in which they recorded and producedelectropop tracks and sent them to music industry bosses. Joshua Sarubin, the head of A&R at Def Jam Recordings, responded positively and vied for the record company to take a chance on her "unusual and provocative" performance. After having his boss Antonio "L.A." Reid in agreement, Gaga was signed to Def Jam in September 2006 with the intention of having an album ready in nine months. However, she was dropped by the label after only three months – an unfortunate period of her life that would later inspire hertreatment for the music video for her 2011 single "Marry the Night". Devastated, Gaga returned to the solace of the family home for Christmas and the nightlife culture of the Lower East Side. She became increasingly experimental: fascinating herself with emerging neo-burlesque shows, go-go dancing at bars dressed in little more than a bikini in addition to experimenting with drugs. Her father, however, did not understand the reason behind her drug intake and could not look at her for several months. "I was onstage in a thong, with a fringe hanging over my ass thinking that had covered it, lighting hairsprays on fire, go-go dancing to Black Sabbath and singing songs about oral sex. The kids would scream and cheer and then we'd all go grab a beer. It represented freedom to me. I went to a Catholic school but it was on the New York underground that I found myself." It was then when she became romantically involved with a heavy metal drummer in a relationship and break-up she likened to the musical film Grease: "I was his Sandy, and he was my Danny, and I just broke." He later became an inspiration behind some of her later songs.Gaga performing in a bar, sporting one of her earlier looks (2008) During this time, she met performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped mold her on-stage persona. Starlight explained that, upon their first meeting, Gaga wanted to perform with her to songs she had recorded with Fusari. Like SGBand, the pair soon began performing at many of the downtown club venues like the Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and the Rockwood Music Hall. Their live performance art piece was known as "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue" and, billed as "The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow", was a low-fi tribute to 1970s variety acts.Soon after, the two were invited to play at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival in August that year. The show was critically acclaimed, and their performance received positive reviews. Having initially focused on avant-gardeelectronic dance music, Gaga had found her musicalniche when she began to incorporate pop melodies and the glam rock of David Bowie and Queen into her music. While Gaga and Starlight were busy performing, producer Rob Fusari continued to work on the songs he had created with Gaga. Fusari sent these songs to his friend, producer and record executive Vincent Herbert. Herbert was quick to sign her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, upon its establishment in 2007. Gaga later credited Herbert as the man who discovered her, adding "I really feel like we made pop history, and we're gonna keep going." Having served as an apprentice songwriter under an internship at Famous Music Publishing, which was later acquired by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Gaga subsequently struck a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV. As a result, she was hired to write songs for Britney Spears and labelmates New Kids on the Block, Fergie, and the Pussycat Dolls. At Interscope, singer-songwriterAkon recognized her vocal abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio. Akon then convinced Interscope-Geffen-A&M Chairman and CEO Jimmy Iovine to form a joint deal by having her also sign with his own label Kon Live, making her his "franchise player."As 2007 came to a close, her former management company introduced her to songwriter and producer RedOne, whom they also managed. The first song she produced with RedOne was "Boys Boys Boys", a mash-up inspired by Mötley Crüe's "Girls, Girls, Girls" and AC/DC's "T.N.T.". Gaga continued her collaboration with RedOne in the recording studio for a week on her debut album and also joined the roster of Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum, after co-writing four songs with Kierszenbaum including the singles "Christmas Tree" and "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)". Despite her secure record deal, she admitted that there was fear about her being too "racy", "dance-orientated" and "underground" for the mainstream market. Her response: "My name is Lady Gaga, I've been on the music scene for years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next."2008–10: The Fame and The Fame MonsterBy 2008, Gaga had relocated to Los Angeles in order to work extensively with her record label to complete her debut album and set up her own creative team Haus of Gaga, modeled on Andy Warhol's Factory.The Fame was first released on August 19, 2008 to slow radio play. Gaga supported it by performing around Europe and in small gay clubs around the US in addition to being billed as a supporting artist on the North American leg of New Kids on the Block's reunion concert tour. A sleeper hit, lead single "Just Dance" had preceded the album's release by four months but only hit the summit of the international charts in January 2009, provoking the instant success of the album, earning her first Grammy Award nomination (for Best Dance Recording) and becoming one of the best-selling singles worldwide. Gaga achieved a greater unexpected success when "Poker Face", another sleeper hit, reached number one in most major music markets worldwide in early 2009, selling 9.8 million singles worldwide. The follow-up single won the award for Best Dance Recording at the 52nd Grammy Awards over nominations for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Gaga performing at The Fame Ball Tour in 2009 The Fame itself was nominated for Album of the Year while winning Best Dance/Electronica Album at the same ceremony. Contemporary critics lauded the album, describing it as an exploration of her obsession with fame and the intricacies of a rich and famous lifestyle, noting its combination of genres "from Def Leppard drums and hand claps to metal drums on urban tracks", the inspiration drawn from 1980s synthpop and incorporation of dance music with clear hooks. The Fame went to number one in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK and appeared in the top five in Australia, the US and 15 other countries. It also stayed atop the Dance/Electronic Albums chart for 106 non-consecutive weeks and, since its release, has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. The album's success spawned many 2009 honors including Billboard magazine's Rising Star award and the accumulation of 3 of 9 MTV Video Music Awards nominations, winning Best New Artistwith the video for her single "Paparazzi" gaining Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects. In addition to being an opening act on the Pussycat Dolls' Doll Domination Tour during the first half of 2009 in Europe and Oceania, she also embarked on her own six-month critically appreciated worldwide concert tour The Fame Ball Tour which ran from March to September 2009.While she traveled the globe, she wrote The Fame Monster, an EP of eight songs released in November 2009. Each song, dealing with the darker side of fame from personal experience, is expressed through a monster metaphor. Making Gaga the first artist in digital history to have three singles (alongside "Just Dance" and "Poker Face") to pass the four million mark in digital sales, its lead single "Bad Romance" topped the charts in eighteen countries and reached the top two in the US, Australia and New Zealand while accruing the Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video. The second single "Telephone", which features singer Beyoncé, was nominated for theGrammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and became Gaga's fourth UK number one single; its accompanying music video, although controversial, received positive reception from contemporary critics who praised her for "the musicality and showmanship of Michael Jackson and the powerful sexuality and provocative instincts of Madonna." Her following single "Alejandro" paired Gaga with fashion photographer Steven Klein for a music video similarly as controversial – critics complimented its ideas and dark nature but the Catholic League attacked Gaga for her alleged use of blasphemy. Despite the controversy surrounding her music videos, they made Gaga the first artist to gain over one billion viral views on video-sharing website YouTube. At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga won 8 of her 13 nominations, including Video of the Year for "Bad Romance" (with "Telephone" also nominated), which made her the first female artist to be nominated twice for the award. In addition, The Fame Monster garnered a total of six nominations at the 53rd Grammy Awards – equating to the amount of Grammy nominations her debut received – winning Best Pop Vocal Album and earning her a second-consecutive nomination for Album of the Year.Gaga performing at The Monster Ball Tour in 2010 The success of the album allowed Gaga to start her second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball Tour, just weeks after the release of The Fame Monster and months after having finished The Fame Ball Tour. Upon finishing in May 2011, the critically acclaimed and commercially accomplished tour ran for over one and a half years and grossed $227.4 million, making it one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time and the highest-grossing for a debut headlining artist. Concerts performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City were filmed for a HBOtelevision special titled Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden. The special accrued one of its five Emmy Awardnominations and has since been released on DVD and Blu-ray. Gaga also performed songs from the album at international events such as the 2009 Royal Variety Performance where she sang "Speechless", a power ballad, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II; the 52nd Grammy Awards where her opening performance consisted of the song "Poker Face" and a piano duet of "Speechless" in a medley of "Your Song" with Elton John; and the 2010 BRIT Awards where a performance of an acoustic rendition of "Telephone" followed by "Dance in the Dark" dedicated to the late fashion designer and close friend, Alexander McQueen, supplemented her hat-trick win at the awards ceremony. Other performances may have included her participation in Michael Jackson's This Is It concert series at London's O2 Arena. "I was actually asked to open for Michael on his tour," she stated. "We were going to open for him at the O2 and we were working on making it happen. I believe there was some talk about us, lots of the openers, doing duets with Michael on stage."In 2009, she collaborated with consumer electronic company Monster Cable Products to create a pair of in-ear jewel-encrusted headphones titled Heartbeats. "They are designed to be the first ever fashion accessories that double as the absolute best sonically sounding headphones in the world," she commented. Gaga also partnered with Polaroid in January 2010 as their Creative Director. Excited about "blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era," Gaga unveiled the first trio of new products called Grey Label: a pair of picture-taking sunglasses, a paperback-sized mobile printing unit and an updated version of the traditional Polaroid camera at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. But her collaboration with past producer Rob Fusari led to her production team, Mermaid Music LLC, being sued in March 2010 when he claimed that he was entitled to a 20% share of the company's earnings. Gaga's lawyer, Charles Ortner, described the agreement with Fusari as "unlawful" and declined to comment, but five months later, the New York Supreme Court dismissed both the lawsuit and a countersuit by Gaga. In addition to such strife, Gaga was tested borderline positive for lupus, but claimed not to be affected by the symptoms. The revelations caused considerable dismay among fans, leading to Gaga addressing the matter in an interview with Larry King, saying she hopes to avoid symptoms by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.2011–present: Born This Way and ArtpopGaga at EuroPride in Rome, 2011. Gaga released her second studio album, Born This Way, on May 23, 2011. Described as a marriage of electronic music with metal, rock 'n' roll, pop and anthemic style melodies with sledge-hammering dance beats and referred to as an album "about what keeps us up at night and what makes us afraid," Gaga characterized it as "something so much deeper than a wig or lipstick or a fucking meat dress" and, upon hearing it, Akon remarked that she is taking music to the "next level." Upon release, the album received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised its range of different styles and her vocals. Born This Way sold 1.108 million copies in its first week in the US, debuted atop theBillboard 200, and topped the charts in more than 20 other countries. In addition to exceeding 8 million copies in worldwide sales, Born This Way received 3 Grammy Award nominations, including her third consecutive for Album of the Year. In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth onBillboard's list of top moneymakers of 2011, grossing $25,353,039 dollars, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour.In the months prior to its unveiling, Gaga released the singles "Born This Way", "Judas" and "The Edge of Glory" alongside promotional single "Hair". The eponymous lead single, first sung live at the 53rd Grammy Awards in a performance that saw Gaga emerge from an egg-like vessel, deals with self-acceptance regardless of race or sexual orientation. The single debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 19th number-one debut and the 1,000th number-one single in the history of the charts. It sold more than 3 million digital copies in the US by October 2011, becoming her eighth consecutive single to exceed sales of 2 million and, with worldwide sales of 8.2 million copies by November 2011, one of her five best-selling singles worldwide. Critics noted artistic and cultural references and praised the concept of the song's accompanying music video, in which Gaga gives birth to a new race amidst surrealistic images. The video for "Judas", in which Gaga portrays Mary Magdalene, and Biblical figures such as Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot are also featured, was criticized for its religious references but received acclaim for its overall delivery and praise from others who claimed that there was nothing offensive about it. "Judas" also peaked within the top ten in several major musical markets, while "The Edge of Glory", first a commercial success in digital outlets, was later released as a single to critical appreciation, accompanied by a video which was notably stripped down from her usually "extravagant" efforts. She released "You and I" and "Marry the Night" as the following singles from Born This Way. Although their "crazy and ambitious" videos were praised for their audacity, both songs failed to match the similar international success that their predecessors achieved. Gaga was later ranked as the second most-played artist of 2011 in the UK by the PPL.Throughout 2011, Gaga continued her musical endeavors by pairing with veteran artists like Tony Bennett to record a jazz version of "The Lady Is a Tramp". She also recorded a duet with Cher on a "massive" and "beautiful" track, which Gaga "wrote a long time ago, and I've never put it on one of my own albums for, really, no particular reason." Gaga also lent her vocals to an original duet with Elton John for the animated feature film Gnomeo & Juliet. The song, "Hello, Hello", was released without Gaga's vocals but the duet version features in the film. She also continued her live appearances in 2011, performing a one-of-a-kind concert at the Sydney Town Hall in promotion of Born This Way and at the celebration of former US president Bill Clinton's 65th birthday, wearing a blond wig as a nod to the famous performance of Marilyn Monroe for John F. Kennedy and changing the lyrics to "You and I" specifically for the performance. Televised appearances comprised her own Thanksgiving Day television special titled A Very Gaga Thanksgiving which was critically lauded, attained 5.749 million American viewers, and spawned the release of her fourth extended play A Very Gaga Holiday. Her second performance on Saturday Night Live saw her singing a selection of Born This Way songs alongside appearing in number of sketches with Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg. Lady Gaga also appeared in Times Square to perform songs from Born This Way on the 40th anniversary of ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and in addition, she also had the honor of welcoming 2012 by dropping the famous Times Square Ball with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at midnight. In 2012, Gaga also guest-starred on the 23rd season finale of The Simpsons titled "Lisa Goes Gaga". In June 2012, Gaga announced her first fragrance in association with Coty, Inc., Lady Gaga Fame, which was released worldwide in September 2012. In December 2012, Gaga made an appearance at the final show of The Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary concert series to perform "Gimmie Shelter", along withBruce Springsteen and The Black Keys.The accompanying tour for Born This Way, titled simply The Born This Way Ball, kicked off at the end of April 2012 at Seoul's Olympic Stadium in South Korea. Although the tour – consisting of 110 shows across the globe – has met with positivity both critically and commercially, several conservative political commentators denounced the Born This Way Ball shortly after the conception of the tour. This early controversy, particularly notable in several locations of the tour's leg in Asia, saw protests from several religious groups who viewed the tour as satanic and against religious values, resulting in protests mainly from the Islamic Defenders Front, causing a cancellation in the Indonesian city of Jakarta, where Gaga was denied a license to perform. She and promoters were initially optimistic that the performance would go on but, due to threats of violence from Muslim hardliners, Gaga decided to cancel the concert although 52,000 tickets had sold out in just a few days.New songs for her new album Artpop were "beginning to flourish" as she worked with producer Fernando Garibay in early 2012. Gaga's manager, Vincent Herbert, said that Gaga began work on her upcoming album during the Born This Way Ball tour, stating that the material is "insane, great records." Gaga announced the album's title and her preference that the title be styled as ARTPOP in capital letters in August 2012, and the album is set for release in Spring 2013. She is also planning to record a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett whom she has already collaborated with. Gaga is also working with DJ White Shadow, RedOne, Zedd and Madeon. Gaga will make her debut film appearance in Robert Rodriguez's upcoming movie Machete Kills. She will play the role of La Chameleón, starring alongside an ensemble cast in the action film that is due to hit cinema screens in 2013. On December 25, 2012, Gaga announced via her social networking site, as well as twitter, that Terry Richardson was working on a documentary about Gaga's life, the Haus of Gaga and "the creation of ARTPOP."