ARTIST PROFILE

Lady Gaga

Name: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta 

Birthday: March 28, 1986

Fav Dish: Pizza & Pasta

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, 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 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:

I don’t know exactly where my affinity for music comes from, but it is the thing that comes easiest to me. When I was like three years old, I may have been even younger, my mom always tells this really embarrassing story of me propping myself up and playing the keys like this because I was too young and short to get all the way up there. Just go like this on the low end of the piano … I was really, really good at piano, so my first instincts were to work so hard at practicing piano, and I might not have been a natural dancer, but I am a natural musician. That is the thing that I believe I am the greatest at.

In 2003, at age 17, Gaga gained early admission to Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21)—a music school at New York University (NYU)’s Tisch School of the Arts—and lived in an NYU dorm. At NYU, she studied music and improved her songwriting skills by writing essays on art, religion, social issues, and politics, including a thesis on pop artists Spencer Tunick and Damien Hirst. During the second semester of her sophomore year in 2005, she withdrew to focus on her music career. The same year, she played an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV’s Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.

In 2014, Gaga said she had been raped at the age of 19, for which she underwent mental and physical therapy. She has post-traumatic stress disorder that she attributes to the incident, and says that support from doctors, family, and friends has helped her.

Gaga began performing as a teenager, singing at open mic nights and acting in school plays. She studied at Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) through New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a music career. 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, the electropop record 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 topped the US charts, making her the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s. 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, six Grammys, three Brit Awards, and an award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Gaga has been declared Billboards Artist of the Year and included among Forbess power and earnings rankings. She was ranked at number four on VH1’s Greatest Women in Music in 2012, finished second on Times 2011 readers’ poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, and was named Billboards Woman of the Year in 2015. She is known for her philanthropy 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.

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