Who Is Lady Gaga?
Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28, 1986, in New York City. She attended New York University's Tisch School for the Arts but left to find creative expression. Her debut album, The Fame, was a huge success, and the single "Poker Face" topped charts in almost every category, in almost every country. Lady Gaga has since earned acclaim for subsequent albums, including a collaboration with Tony Bennett, as well as her acting skills, nabbing a Golden Globe for her contributions to American Horror Story and an Oscar nomination for her co-starring role in A Star Is Born.
Early Life and Career
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, in Yonkers, New York, to Cynthia and Joseph Germanotta. Now known as Lady Gaga (the inspiration for her name came from the Queen song "Radio Ga-Ga"), she has become an international pop star.
Gaga learned to play the piano by the age of 4. At the age of 11, she was accepted to the Juilliard School in Manhattan, but instead attended a private Catholic school in the city. She continued studying music and performing, writing her first piano ballad at the age of 13, and she held her first performance in a New York nightclub at the age of 14.
A few years later, Gaga was granted early admission to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts—she was one of only 20 students in the world to receive the honor of early acceptance. While there, she studied music and worked on her songwriting skills. She later withdrew from school to find creative inspiration. To make ends meet, she took three jobs, including a stint as a gogo dancer, while she honed her performance-art act.
In 2005, Lady Gaga was briefly signed by Def Jam Records, but was dropped just months later. Being dropped by the label propelled the singer to perform on her own in clubs and venues on New York City's Lower East Side. There, she collaborated with several rock bands, and began her experimentation with fashion.
Debut Album: 'The Fame'
In 2007, at the age of 20, Gaga began work at Interscope Records as a songwriter for other artists on the label, including Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block and The Pussycat Dolls. R&B singer Akon discovered Gaga while she was performing a burlesque show that she created, called "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue." Impressed, Akon signed the performer to his label under the Interscope umbrella, Kon Live. Through 2007 and 2008, Gaga wrote and recorded her debut album, The Fame. The record received positive reviews and was successful in the United States. With the help of her own creative team, "Haus of Gaga," the performer also began to make a name for herself internationally.
'Just Dance,' 'Poker Face'
Lady Gaga's debut single, "Just Dance," was released to radio in early 2008, and received both popular and commercial acclaim. The song was then nominated for a Grammy Award (for best dance recording) in 2008. The song lost to Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," but this didn't keep Gaga from reaching No. 1 on the mainstream pop charts in January 2009. The second single off The Fame, "Poker Face," earned Gaga even more success. The song topped singles charts in almost every category, and in almost every country. Both songs were produced by Akon's affiliate RedOne, who co-wrote most of Lady Gaga's album.
'Born This Way'
Later in 2008, Lady Gaga opened for the newly reformed New Kids on the Block. She also collaborated with them on the song "Big Girl Now" from the group's album The Block. The following year, Gaga released an album of eight songs, The Fame Monster, followed by 2011's Born This Way. In 2013, Lady Gaga released her third studio album, Artpop. The album didn't resonate as strongly with her audience as her previous works. Among the shake-ups in her inner circle, she and her manager parted ways.
Working With Tony and Golden Globe
In 2014, she released an album of jazz duets with crooner Tony Bennett entitled Cheek to Cheek, which later won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. In an interview with Parade, Lady Gaga said of her latest collaboration, “Working with Tony has reaffirmed everything I knew but that you start to forget when your life changes and it gets really noisy. For Tony, it’s all about great music.”
Gaga continued to showcase her versatility and strength as a vocalist at the Academy Awards telecast in Feburary 2015, paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music and actress/singer Julie Andrews by performing selections from the musical.
Golden Globe for 'American Horror Story'
Later that year, Gaga also showed her gifts as an actress by co-starring in American Horror Story: Hotel, earning a Golden Globe for her portrayal of The Countess. At the ceremony, a visibly stunned and emotional Gaga acknowledged that acting was her first dream before she embraced music, and thanked her fellow cast members and producer Ryan Murphy for their support. Gaga returned to the show for its sixth season, playing a witch in American Horror Story: Roanoke.
In February 2016, Gaga, joined by guitarist/producer Nile Rodgers, performed a tribute to the late David Bowie. Paying homage to one of her biggest musical heroes, a red-wigged Gaga sang a short medley of Bowie's hits. She also performed at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, performing "Til It Happens to You" after being introduced by Vice President Joseph Biden. The song was from the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground, which looked at the issue of rape on college campuses. Assault survivors were brought to the stage toward the close of the song, with the performance earning a standing ovation.
Success With 'Joanne'
In October 2016, Gaga released her fifth studio album, Joanne, her fourth album to reach No. 1 in the United States and top the charts in countries around the world. Partnering with producer Mark Ronson, Gaga tapped into her own life story for the album that is named after her aunt and father's sister, Joanne Germanotta, who died of lupus complications at the age of 19 before Gaga was born. “Returning to your family and where you came from, and your history ... this is what makes you strong,” Lady Gaga told People magazine. “It’s not looking out that’s going to do that – it’s looking in. Joanne is a progression for me. It was about going into the studio and forgetting that I was famous.”
She also told People that her relationships influenced the stories she tells in Joanne. “When you listen to the album, it’s clear the influence that all the men in my life have made on this record," she said. "That’s at the center of it, as well: I always wanted to be a good girl. And Joanne was such a good girl. But I have such a rebellious spirit, and my father was always very angry. He drank because of his sister’s death. I was trying to understand him through making this record, and in that, also trying to understand why I love men that are cowboys.”
Gaga launched the Joanne World Tour in support of her latest album in August 2017. She later nabbed a Best Pop Solo Performance Grammy for the album's title track.
Super Bowl Performances
In 2016, Lady Gaga performed the national anthem at Super Bowl 50, and she returned the following year to headline the Super Bowl LI halftime show. She began her powerhouse performance on the roof of the NRG Stadium in Houston, singing parts of "God Bless America" and "This Land is Your Land" and reciting an excerpt of the pledge of allegiance before diving through the air suspended by wires to the stage. Her halftime show included a medley of her iconic songs including "Edge of Glory," "Bad Romance," "Poker Face," "Born This Way," "Telephone," "Just Dance," as well as "Million Reasons" from her album Joanne.
'A Star Is Born'
In 2016, it was announced that Gaga had been cast in a remake of A Star Is Born as Ally, a role previously inhabited by Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. She was slated to co-star with Bradley Cooper, who was also making his directorial debut with the project.
A Star Is Born became a hit with audiences upon its October 2018 release, grossing an impressive $400 billion globally. The co-stars both earned Academy Award nominations for their performances, while their duet for the film, "Shallow," produced Golden Globe, Grammy and Oscar wins for Gaga.
Las Vegas Residency
On December 19, 2017, Gaga announced via Instagram that she had signed on for a Las Vegas residency. The following August, she confirmed that she would begin her residency at MGM Resorts' Park Theater at the end of the year, performing two separate shows over 27 dates: Lady Gaga Enigma, a collection of her most popular songs, and Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano, which features stripped-down versions of her greatest hits as well as selections from the Great American Songbook.
On Valentine’s Day 2015, Lady Gaga became engaged to Chicago Fire actor Taylor Kinney. After five years together, in July 2016, it was reported that the couple called off their engagement and parted ways.
Gaga then got engaged to her agent, Christian Carino, in summer 2017. In February 2019, after the singer attended the Grammys without her fiancé, a representative confirmed that the engagement was off.
One year later, the entertainer extraordinaire went public with her relationship with tech CEO Michael Polansky.
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