Lady Gaga Angelina Germanotta was born in New York City on March 28, 1986, to internet entrepreneur Joseph Anthony “Joe” Germanotta, Jr. and Cynthia Bissett. Gaga is of three quarters Italian descent (her maternal grandfather had French, German, Scottish, and English ancestry). Gaga has one younger sister, Natali, a fashion student, who 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 and her family are Roman Catholic. From age eleven she attended theConvent 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 mic nights by the age of fourteen. She performed lead roles in high school productions, including Adelaide in Guys 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 theater trainingconservatory 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.
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 Street towards 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 the Mercury 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 Wordsand Red and Blue (both 2005) at gigs around New York while becoming a local fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene.SGB and reached their career peak at the 2006 Songwriters 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.
Towards the end of 2007, her former management company introduced her to songwriter and producer Red One, 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.”
By 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 thebest-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.
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.
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 says that she wrote a long time ago, but had not put it on any of her albums. 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 acclaimed, 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. 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 “Gimme Shelter”, along with Bruce 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 – was a commercial success with general critical acclaim, 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. Due to a labral tear of her right hip, Gaga announced on February 12, 2013, that the remainder of her Born This Way Ball was canceled. She posted on her blog February 20, 2013, that she had hip surgery, and was recovering.
New songs for Gaga’s third studio album, Artpop, were “beginning to flourish” as she worked with producer Fernando Garibay in early 2012. Gaga’s manager, Vincent Herbert, said the singer began work on Artpop during the Born This Way Ball tour, stating that the material is “insane, great records”. Gaga herself explained that it was her intention to make her audience have “a really good time. I designed it for it to be fun from start to finish, like a night at the club in terms of the DJing aspect of it. When you listen to it, it really flows nicely. It’s really fun to pop in with your friends. I really wrote it for me and my friends to pop in from start to finish.” In December 2012, Gaga announced that Terry Richardson was also working on a documentary about Gaga’s life, the Haus of Gaga and “the creation ofArtpop”. “Applause” was released on August 12, 2013, as the lead single from Artpop, which is scheduled to be released on November 11, 2013. The album would be available through normal musical outlets as well as through an app developed by the Haus of Gaga. The song, which deals with how Gaga is dependent upon her fans’ adoration, was a commercial success peaking inside the top ten of record charts in most countries, including US and the UK. Gaga performed “Applause” at the2013 MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, 2013. “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly was released as the second single from the album on October 21, 2013.
Besides her film endeavors, Gaga would also be involved in other musical ventures. In January 2014, she will release Cheek to Cheek, a jazz album with Tony Bennett, with whom she had already collaborated. In early 2015, the singer is set to perform the first ever concert in space as part of Zero G Colony, a three-day music festival. She will travel via Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial spaceport, in New Mexico, and the event will feature a mix of entertainment and cutting-edge technology. Gaga will be the grand finale.
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