USA January 1985
Her 1983 debut album, Madonna, sparked more hits and praise than most performers can hope for in a lifetime! And now, with the recent release of her latest album, Like a Virgin, and two upcoming film roles, it looks as if all of Madonna’s wishes have been answered.
And her lucky star seems to be rising higher and higher!
Madonna is a fitting name for this dynamic beauty who has created her own self-styled fashion statement with uncombed hair, bracelets up to the elbows and a number of earrings on each ear. In a word, Madonna is unique. And, along with a small handful of other versatile performers, such as Sting and Prince, Madonna has become a one-name sensation!
Bom Madonna Ciccone (named after her mother who died when Madonna was 7 years old), 24 years ago in Detroit, Mich., Madonna comes from a large Italian family with five boys and three girls. She describes the home environment as being very competitive.
“My father brought me up to be very goal-oriented — to be a lawyer or doctor and study, study, study. We didn’t get allowances, but we definitely got rewards for achieving,” she says. And with all those siblings to compete with, Madonna sought out every opportunity to be number one. “I got the best grades, straight As … and all my brothers and sisters hated me!” she jokingly adds.
On the lighter side, however, Madonna also describes her upbringing as being very musical. When she was very young, she studied piano for a year, but quit after convincing her father to let her take ballet lessons instead. And soon after, she became involved in everything from jazz and tap to modern dance.
Madonna’s dance roots may seem like a strange beginning for someone who has blossomed into a dynamic singer, but as she explains, “I always had the idea that I wanted to be a performer, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sing or dance or be an actress or what, so I concentrated on dancing.”
And what began with her winning the lead roles in her high school’s musicals such as My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music, soon earned her a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. Yet after only a year, Madonna was filled with the desire to dance professionally and she set aside her studies and decided to go test her talents in the big time — New York City!
“I moved to New York in ’78,” says Madonna. “I was only 17. I had $35 in my pocket and knew no one, I told the taxi driver to take me to the middle of everything. I was let off in Times Square,” she remembers.
Although this may have been a startling introduction for any other teenager Madonna made this overwhelming environment work for her.
And not long after her arrival, she auditioned for and won a dance scholarship with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and later studied the famous Martha Graham technique under the direction of one of Graham’s dance soloists, Pearl Lang.
Madonna had a strong desire to dance professionally in New York, but as she explains, “There weren’t many companies that I wanted to work for. The best ones didn’t need anyone at that time. And I wasn’t willing to wait five years for a break.”
Therefore, when Madonna was offered the opportunity to sing and dance in a French disco singer’s international tour, she jumped at the chance and caught the first plane to Paris.
She arrived back in New York six months later and came up with the innovative idea of combining her talents for music and dance. And after hanging out at various dance clubs, watching and picking up on the dancing she liked the best, Madonna put it all together and created her own choreographed music. At this same time, Madonna was briefly involved with a band called the Breakfast Club, in which she played the drums, but she soon broke away from the band so she could put all her energies into pursuing her solo career.
After recording a demo tape of original material, she convinced a disc jockey at a dance club called the Danceteria to play one of her songs. The song was “Everybody” and it was not only a pleasant surprise to the disc jockey and the dancers at the club, but it also happened to impress a record executive who was there. He signed her to a major recording contract that very evening! She was now on her way.
The immediate success of her debut album, Madonna, was solid gold proof that all her unique talents and stunning looks could come together and create a powerful and appealing package. And soon after the single “Everybody” was released, there was a string of crossover hits (on the dance and pop charts) that followed, including “Holiday,” “Physical Attraction,” “Burning Up” and “Borderline.”
In addition, the sophisticated “Burning Up” and “Borderline” videos helped establish Madonna as a star to be reckoned with!
Madonna describes her music as the kind that helps people to forget about the problems of the world. “It’s just to cheer people up,” she says. “People go out to dance to get away and forget about their problems, like a holiday, and that’s what the music’s about — to get together and forget.”
On Madonna’s latest album, Like a Virgin, she is following in the same formula.
And with a powerful blend of dance songs on the album and a slick video to match, the package is hard to beat! Yet Madonna is not the kind to sit back and let success completely catch up with her, and that is why she’s always thinking one step ahead of the game. That little girl is no longer inside of her who isn’t quite sure in which creative direction to take her career. She has decided — and she wants everything!
“I want to keep on making great records and want to develop as a music artist, but also to get involved in other things, as well I’d like to make more videos and to write music for other people and then I have a great interest in films,” she says.
And in Madonna’s go-getter style, she is exploring this great interest and will soon be seen in two films that will be released early this year – Desperately Seeking Susan and Vision Quest.
With all of her dreams falling perfectly into place, Madonna’s schedule is extremely hectic. And although she finds it difficult to travel home to Michigan to visit the members of her family, they try to come to New York whenever they can. And during those rare moments when Madonna finds the time to relax, the things she enjoys doing most are reading, writing, eating, watching old movies and dancing.
As Madonna takes the time to reflect on her quick rise to super-stardom, she easily puts things into perspective. “Three to four years ago dancing was the most important thing — now it’s music. That will lead on to something else … acting. Above all, I want to be an all-around entertainer. And happy,” she says.
And judging from her self-confidence and mass appeal, it all seems to be in the stars for Madonna!