Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, born March 28, 1986, known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She is known for her unconventionality and provocative work as well as visual experimentation.
Gaga began her musical career performing songs at open mic nights and school plays. She studied at Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) through New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to become a professional musician. After Def Jam Recordings canceled her contract, Gaga worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, where Akon helped her sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own label KonLive Distribution in 2007. She rose to prominence the following year with her debut album, a dance-pop and electropop record titled The Fame, and its chart-topping singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”. A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), featuring the singles “Bad Romance”, “Telephone”, and “Alejandro”, also proved successful.
Gaga’s second full-length album Born This Way (2011) explored electronic rock and techno. The album topped the US Billboard 200 and sold more than one million copies in the country during its first week. Its title track became the fastest selling song on the iTunes Store with over a million downloads in less than a week. Gaga ventured into R&B and disco with her third album Artpop (2013), which topped the US charts and included the single “Applause”. In 2014, she released a jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek, her third consecutive number one album in the US. For her acting work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel (2015–2016), Gaga won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 2016. Her fifth studio album, Joanne (2016), incorporated genres such as country and pop, and she became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s when it topped the country’s charts. In 2018, Gaga starred in the musical romantic drama film A Star Is Born, and contributed to its soundtrack.
Having sold 27 million albums and 146 million singles as of January 2016, Gaga is one of the best-selling music artists in history. Her achievements include several Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, six Grammy Awards, and awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Gaga has been declared Billboard’s Artist of the Year and included among Forbes’s power and earnings rankings. She was ranked at number four on VH1’s Greatest Women in Music in 2012, finished second on Time’s 2011 readers’ poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, and was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2015. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights, and for her non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, at the Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, New York City, to a Catholic family with Italian and French Canadian roots. Her parents are Cynthia Louise (née Bissett) and Internet entrepreneur Joseph Germanotta, and she has a younger sister, Natali. Brought up in the affluent Upper West Side of Manhattan, she says that her parents came from lower-class families and worked hard for everything. From age 11, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic school. Gaga described her academic life in high school as “very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined” but also “a bit insecure”. She considered herself a misfit among her peers and was mocked for “being either too provocative or too eccentric”.
Gaga began to play the piano at the age of four when her mother insisted she become “a cultured young woman”, taking lessons and practicing the instrument throughout her childhood. The lessons taught her to create music by ear, which she preferred over reading sheet music and practiced professionally. Her parents encouraged her to pursue music, and enrolled her in Creative Arts Camp. As a teenager, she played at open mic nights. At her high school, Gaga played the lead roles of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. She also studied method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for ten years. Gaga unsuccessfully auditioned for New York shows, though appeared in a small role as a high school student in a 2001 episode of The Sopranos titled “The Telltale Moozadell”. She later said of her inclination towards music.
In February 2015, Gaga became engaged to Taylor Kinney. After Artpop’s lukewarm response, Gaga began to reinvent her image and style. According to Billboard, this shift started with the release of Cheek to Cheek and the attention she received for her performance at the 87th Academy Awards, where she sang a medley of songs from The Sound of Music in a tribute to Julie Andrews. Considered one of her best performances by Billboard, it triggered more than 214,000 interactions per minute globally on Facebook. She and Diane Warren co-wrote the song “Til It Happens to You” for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which earned them the Satellite Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award nomination in the same category. Gaga won Billboard Woman of the Year and Contemporary Icon Award at the 2015 Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards.
Gaga had spent much of her early life wanting to be an actress, and achieved her goal when she starred in American Horror Story: Hotel. Running from October 2015 to January 2016, Hotel is the fifth season of the anthology horror series, American Horror Story, in which Gaga played a hotel owner named Elizabeth. At the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, Gaga received the Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film award for her work on the season. She appeared in Nick Knight’s 2015 fashion film for Tom Ford’s 2016 spring campaign and was guest editor for V fashion magazine’s 99th issue in January 2016, which featured sixteen different covers. She received Editor of the Year award at the Fashion Los Angeles Awards.
In 2016, Gaga sang the US national anthem in February at Super Bowl 50, partnered with Intel and Nile Rodgers for a tribute performance to the late David Bowie at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, and sang “Til It Happens to You” at the 88th Academy Awards, where she was introduced by Joe Biden and accompanied on-stage by 50 people who had suffered from sexual assault. She was honored that April with the Artist Award at the Jane Ortner Education Awards by The Grammy Museum, which recognizes artists who have demonstrated passion and dedication to education through the arts. Her engagement to Taylor Kinney ended the following July; she later said her career had interfered with their relationship.
Gaga played a witch named Scathach in American Horror Story: Roanoke, the series’ sixth season, which ran from September to November 2016. Her role in the fifth season of the show ultimately influenced her future music, prompting her to feature “the art of darkness”. In September 2016, she released her fifth album’s lead single, “Perfect Illusion”, which peaked at number 15 in the US. The album, titled Joanne, was named after her late aunt who was an inspiration for the music. It was released on October 21, 2016, and sold 170,000 copies in the US during its first week. Joanne was Gaga’s fourth number one Billboard album, making her the first woman to reach the US chart summit four times in the 2010s. Its second single “Million Reasons” followed the next month, and reached number four in the US. Joanne and “Million Reasons” were nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance, respectively. To promote the album, Gaga embarked on the three-date Dive Bar Tour.
Gaga performed as the headlining act during the Super Bowl LI halftime show on February 5, 2017. Her performance featured a group of hundreds of lighted drones forming various shapes in the sky above Houston’s NRG Stadium—the first time robotic aircraft appeared in a Super Bowl program. It attracted 117.5 million viewers in the United States, exceeding the game’s total of 113.3 million viewers. The performance led to a surge of 410,000 song downloads in the United States for Gaga and earned her an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Special Class Program category. CBS Sports included her performance as the second best in the history of Super Bowl halftime shows. In April, Gaga headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. She also released a standalone-single, “The Cure”, which reached the top 10 in Australia and France. In August, Gaga began the Joanne World Tour which she announced after the Super Bowl LI halftime show. Gaga’s creation of Joanne and preparation for her halftime show performance were featured in the documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two, which premiered on Netflix in September. Throughout the film, she was seen suffering from chronic pain, which was later revealed to be the effect of a long-term condition called fibromyalgia. It resulted in Gaga canceling the last ten shows of Joanne World Tour, which ultimately grossed $95 million from 842,000 tickets sold.
In March 2018, Gaga supported the March for Our Lives gun-control rally in Washington, D.C. and released a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” for the tribute album Revamp & Restoration. She starred in and created new music for Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born, a remake of the 1937 film of the same name. Her character is a woman named Ally whose romance with singer Jackson Maine (played by Cooper) becomes strained after her career begins to overshadow his.Gaga says she starred in the film because she is a fan of Cooper’s work, and of the film’s portrayal of addiction and depression. It premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival in August 2018, and will release worldwide in October. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described the film as “outrageously watchable” and wrote that “Gaga’s ability to be part ordinary person, part extraterrestrial celebrity empress functions at the highest level”. Time’s Stephanie Zacharek similarly highlighted her “knockout performance” and found her “charismatic” without her usual makeup, wigs and costumes.
Gaga has confirmed that she has started working on her sixth studio album. She has been in recording studios with producers like Boys Noize, DJ White Shadow and BloodPop. She has signed a two-year residency, named Lady Gaga Enigma, to perform at the MGM Park Theater in Las Vegas, which is scheduled to begin in December 2018.
Public reception of Gaga’s music, fashion sense, and persona is polarized. Because of her influence on modern culture, and her rise to global fame, sociologist Mathieu Deflem of the University of South Carolina has offered a course titled “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame” since early 2011 with the objective of unraveling “some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga”. When Gaga met briefly with then-president Barack Obama at a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser, he found the interaction “intimidating” as she was dressed in 16-inch heels, making her the tallest woman in the room. When interviewed by Barbara Walters for her annual ABC News special 10 Most Fascinating People in 2009, Gaga dismissed the claim that she is intersex as an urban legend. Responding to a question on this issue, she expressed her fondness for androgyny. In a 2010 Sunday Times article, Camille Paglia called Gaga “more an identity thief than an erotic taboo breaker, a mainstream manufactured product who claims to be singing for the freaks, the rebellious and the dispossessed when she is none of those”.
Gaga’s outlandish fashion sense has also served as an important aspect of her character. During her early career, members of the media compared her fashion choices to those of Christina Aguilera. In 2011, 121 women gathered at the Grammy Awards dressed in costumes similar to those worn by Gaga, earning the 2011 Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of Lady Gaga Impersonators. The Global Language Monitor named “Lady Gaga” as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark “no pants” a close third. Entertainment Weekly put her outfits on its end of the decade “best-of” list, saying that she “brought performance art into the mainstream”.
Time placed Gaga on their All-Time 100 Fashion Icons List, stating: “Lady Gaga is just as notorious for her outrageous style as she is for her pop hits Gaga has sported outfits made from plastic bubbles, Kermit the Frog dolls, and raw meat.” Gaga wore a dress made of raw beef to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, which was supplemented by boots, a purse, and a hat also made out of raw beef. Partly awarded in recognition of the dress, Vogue named her one of the Best Dressed people of 2010 and Time named the dress the Fashion Statement of the year. It attracted the attention of worldwide media; the animal rights organization PETA found it offensive. The meat dress was displayed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2012, and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in September 2015.
Gaga’s fans call her “Mother Monster”, and she often refers to them as “Little Monsters”, a phrase which she had tattooed on herself in dedication. In his article “Lady Gaga Pioneered Online Fandom Culture As We Know It” for Vice, Jake Hall wrote that Gaga inspired several subsequent fan-branding, such as those of Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Justin Bieber. In July 2012, Gaga also co-founded the social networking service LittleMonsters.com, devoted to her fans.According to Guinness World Records, Gaga was the most followed person on Twitter in 2011 and the most followed female pop singer in 2014; the book also named her the most powerful popstar that year. Forbes included Gaga on its Celebrity 100 from 2010 to 2015 and its list of the World’s Most Powerful Women from 2010 to 2014. She earned $62 million, $90 million, $52 million, $80 million, $33 million, and $59 million from 2010 through 2015. She was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2010 and ranked second in most influential people of the past ten years in a Time magazine readers’ poll in 2013. In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth on Billboard’s list of top moneymakers of 2011 with earnings of $25 million, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour. The following year, she topped Forbes’ List of Top-Earning Celebs Under 30, and in February 2016, the magazine estimated Gaga’s net worth to be $275 million.