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Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an US-American pop singer, dancer, songwriter, producer, actress, and author. Hits such as "Holiday," "Like a Virgin" and "Like a Prayer" earned her massive success during the 1980s. Further hits followed in the 1990s such as "Vogue," "Take a Bow," and "Frozen." She has also released several hit singles during the 2000s, such as "Music," "American Pie" and "Hung Up." She is internationally well known for reinventing her image, creating innovative music videos, and generating controversy in both her work and personal life. She is commonly referred to as the "Queen of Pop."
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Madonna is the most successful female recording artist of all time as of 2000. She has sold an estimated 120 million albums worldwide. In a 2005 press release, her record label, Warner Bros., reported she had international sales in excess of 200 million albums. Apart from achieving twelve #1 hits and 36 top ten hits on the U.S Billboard Magazine Hot 100, she has garnered numerous awards for her music, videos and films.
Madonna Louise Ciccone was the third of six children born to an Italian-US American Chrysler engineer, Silvio "Tony" P. Ciccone, and Madonna Louise Fortin (from a Quˆ©bˆ©coise family in Bay City, Michigan). She was raised in a Catholic family in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Rochester Hills.
Madonna's mother died of breast cancer at the age of thirty on December 1, 1963; Madonna was five years old. The singer has frequently discussed the impact her mother's death had on her life and career. Tony Ciccone later married the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson, and had two children with her.
Tony required all of his children to take music lessons. After a few months of piano lessons, Madonna convinced her father to allow her to take ballet classes instead, and she proved to be a gifted dancer.
Madonna attended Rochester Adams High School, where she was a straight-A student, excelled at sports and was a member of the cheerleading squad. After graduating from high school in 1976, Madonna received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan, where she met ballet teacher Christopher Flynn. In addition to mentoring young Madonna in the field of dance, he provided her first exposure to gay discotheques, a scene that would later have an impact on the singer's music and style.
In 1977, at the encouragement of Flynn, Madonna left college at the end of her second year and moved to New York City to pursue a dance career. Looking back at her arrival in New York, Madonna has said: "When I came to New York it was the first time I'd ever taken a plane, the first time I've ever gotten a taxi-cab, the first time for everything. And I came here with 35 dollars in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I'd ever done."
Madonna would brave financial difficulties throughout this time, living in squalor (when not living off the kindness of friends and lovers) and working a series of low-paying jobs. She would turn to nude modeling to make ends meet. During this time, she also studied with modern dance legend Martha Graham as well as a Graham disciple, Pearl Lang. Madonna later performed with several modern dance companies, including Alvin Ailey and the Walter Nicks dancers.
While performing as a dancer for French disco star Patrick Hernandez on his 1979 world tour, Madonna met and became romantically involved with musician Dan Gilroy, with whom she would start her first rock band, the Breakfast Club, in New York. Madonna played drums and later sang and played guitar and the drums with The Breakfast Club before forming Emmy in 1980 with drummer and former boyfriend Stephen Bray. She then broke off with Bray to write and produce a number of solo disco and dance songs that brought her local fame in New York dance clubs, particularly Danceteria and Kansas Kansas. A demo of Madonna's Bray collaborations caught the ear of popular New York DJ/Producer Mark Kamins, who brought the tape to the attention of Sire Records.
It was at this time that Madonna received her first starring film role - a part in the low-budget independent film A Certain Sacrifice.
The first album
In 1982, Madonna inked a singles deal with Sire Records that paid her $5,000 per song. Her first single, "Everybody," was produced by Mark Kamins. Although it did not become a pop hit, it peaked at #3 on the Billboard Dance Chart. It also gained some airplay on R&B radio stations, leading many to assume that Madonna was a black artist. When "Everybody" was released, Madonna's picture did not appear on the single cover sleeve, because Sire did not want to risk losing the black audience (Madonna's core purchasing audience at that point) by advertising that Madonna was white.
Madonna's next single was "Physical Attraction," another hit on the Billboard Dance Chart which nonetheless failed to become a pop hit. However, the success of these singles on the Dance Chart encouraged Sire to invest in a full-length album. Six new songs were recorded for the album and they would be included along with the first two singles.
Madonna released her self-titled first album, Madonna, in July 1983 (it was repackaged and retitled "Madonna - The First Album" for Europe and overseas in 1985). It was produced by Reggie Lucas, with one song being produced by John 'Jellybean' Benitez, with whom Madonna had had a brief romance. The next single off the now full-length album was "Burning Up," which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Chart. Although the album sold slowly at first, sales picked up with the release of the fourth single, "Holiday." The song became Madonna's first bonafide hit, peaking at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and nudging the album to a #8 peak on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. The following single, "Borderline," became Madonna's first Top 10 hit, while the sixth and final single, "Lucky Star," landed in the Top 5. The album sold nearly two million copies in the U.S. at the time of release and currently stands at 5 times platinum.
Madonna's image was a sexy and playful combination of pop and punk culture, and her increasingly elaborate music videos soon became fixtures on the newly established MTV network. Madonna would join such 1980s stars as Michael Jackson and Prince in using the music video medium to create a new brand of image-conscious multimedia star, much to the ire of music critics and rock musicians who saw such tactics as an unapologetic abuse of style over substance.
Like A Virgin
In 1984, Madonna released Like a Virgin. The album, produced by Nile Rodgers, became her first #1 album in the U.S. Billboard Top 200. Buoyed by the success of its title track (which hit number one across the globe, including a six week stay at the top of the Billboard Hot 100), Like a Virgin became an international success, spawning three more Billboard top five singles ("Material Girl", "Angel" and "Dress You Up") and eventually being awarded the Diamond album certification by the RIAA for shipments exceeding 10 million albums in the U.S..
Madonna's performance at the First Annual MTV Video Music Awards, in which she writhed on the stage wearing a combination bustier/wedding gown, lacy stockings and garters and her trademark "Boy Toy" belt, was the first of several public displays that boosted Madonna's fan base as much as they incensed critics.
In 1985, Madonna broke out into mainstream film roles, beginning with a brief appearance playing a club singer in the film Vision Quest, a film that contained her second #1 Billboard hit, the Grammy-nominated ballad "Crazy for You". A second track from the film, "Gambler" was released outside the U.S. Later that same year, she received modest commercial and critical success for her starring role in Susan Seidelman's film Desperately Seeking Susan, which grossed $27 Million in the U.S. Its soundtrack contained another Madonna song, "Into the Groove", which, as the flip side to the Like a Virgin track "Angel," reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the UK, "Into The Groove" was released as a single in August 1985 and gave Madonna her first #1 (she was also at #2 with a re-release of "Holiday" at the same time). It was later included as a bonus track on the 1985 re-release of the album Like a Virgin. Madonna concluded her year on the U.K. chart having notched up 8 top ten hits in 1985 alone. Madonna launched her first full-scale live performance tour titled "The Virgin Tour." News reports from the tour would highlight the advent of the "Madonna Wannabe" - hordes of teenage girls around the country dressing in spandex, miniskirts, torn t-shirts, and lacy bras, with armfuls of black rubber bangles, teased, bow-tied hair and a stressed mole above the lip to emulate the star.
In July of 1985, a number of black and white nude photos of Madonna surfaced, published in both Penthouse and Playboy magazines. The photos were taken during the late 1970s, when she had posed for art photographers in New York City as a way to make money. That same month, Madonna performed at the Live Aid charity concert. Madonna lost a court battle in August 1985 over the video release of A Certain Sacrifice, the low-budget film she starred in during her pre-fame New York years. She also met and fell in love with actor Sean Penn, whom she met on the set of the "Material Girl" video when he made a surprise visit. On her twenty-seventh birthday, August 16, 1985, she and Penn were married in an outdoor ceremony in Malibu, California.
In 1986, Madonna released her third album, True Blue and also undertook production duties for the first time with this release. The album, also produced by Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, quickly rose to #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and included five hit singles: the number-one hits "Live to Tell", (the theme from the film At Close Range, , "Papa Don't Preach," and "Open Your Heart," as well as the top ten hits "True Blue" and "La Isla Bonita".
True Blue videos showed Madonna's continued interest in pushing boundaries of the music video medium to a cinematic level, including elaborate art direction, cinematography and film devices such as character and plot. Though Madonna had already made videos expressing her sexuality and overflowing with pop cultural references, Madonna would add religious iconography, gender archetypes and social issues to her oeuvre and these concepts would carry through her work for years to come.
Madonna appeared with her husband in the 1986 film Shanghai Surprise, which was unanimously panned by critics and performed poorly at the box office. Madonna was awarded the "Worst Actress" trophy at the Golden Raspberry Awards two years in a row for her roles in Shanghai and the 1987 comedy Who's That Girl. While Who's That Girl was a critical and commercial failure, it gave Madonna a Platinum-certified soundtrack that included the international number-one hit title track and the number-two hit, "Causing a Commotion." In Europe The Look of Love was released late 1987 and reached the UK top 10.
Madonna embarked on the successful "Who's That Girl World Tour" in the summer of 1987, beginning her long association with backing vocalists and dancers Donna DeLory and Niki Haris and moving closer to the more elaborately-staged theater-inspired concert. The tour also marked her first run-in with the Vatican. The Pope unsuccessfully urged fans not to attend her performances in Italy, and the Vatican expressed outrage at the unveiling of a racy 13-foot Madonna statue in the Italian town of Pacentro. The Italian show would be later released on video in 1988 under the name Ciao Italia! - Live From Italy.
Madonna ended 1987 with the release of her Platinum-certified remix album entitled You Can Dance. The album included one new song, Spotlight, which was released only in Japan. Madonna filed assault charges against Sean Penn in December 28, 1988; there had been reports of abuse against Madonna herself. They officially separated on December 31st and on January 5th, 1989, after four years of marriage.
Like A Prayer
In 1989, at the age of 30, Madonna released Like a Prayer. The album spawned five singles, including top ten hits "Like a Prayer," "Express Yourself," "Cherish" and "Keep It Together," as well as the top 20 hit "Oh Father." Like a Prayer is often cited by critics as the best album of her career. "Cherish" became the third of Madonna's singles to top the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart, following "Live to Tell" and "La Isla Bonita." A sixth track from the album, "Dear Jessie," was successfully promoted as a single outside the U.S. and accompanied by an animated video.
The music video for "Like a Prayer" featured many Catholic symbols, such as stigmata, and was condemned by the Vatican for its "blasphemous" mixture of Catholic symbolism and eroticism. The highlights of the video feature an innocent black man being mistaken for a murderer by police as well as Madonna singing in a field of burning crosses. While the video's symbolism denounced racism, the video had a different effect entirely.
Madonna had just signed a deal with soft drink manufacturer Pepsi. Her song "Like a Prayer" would be debuted in a Pepsi commercial in which Madonna would appear. The commercial aired, which was not controversial in itself, and basically showed Madonna dancing with the Andre Crouch Choir (who also sang on the song) and everyone enjoying Pepsi. Madonna, however, already had different ideas for the music video. When the video debuted, looking strikingly similar to the commercial but including all the controversial acts, Pepsi was bombarded with complaints. Boycotts were threatened against the company and Pepsi, unable to get the protesters to realize that the commercial and video contained different content, succumbed to pressure, pulled their commercial off the air, and cancelled all plans for future commercials with Madonna. Though the deal with Pepsi called for three commercials, Madonna kept her 5 million dollar fee since Pepsi had canceled the contract. Deciding it didn't need another round of bad press if legal proceedings were to follow, Pepsi did not fight payment to the artist for nonfulfillment of the contract.
The Immaculate Collection
In 1990, at the age of 32, Madonna starred as Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy alongside Warren Beatty, with whom she had a brief relationship. She earned some good reviews for the role, though critics pointed out that it continued her tradition of performing well when portraying characters quite similar to herself.
I'm Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the Film 'Dick Tracy' spawned the single, "Vogue," which is arguably the biggest hit of Madonna's career. The video for it popularized a dance trend in which people strike poses like fashion models in magazines (such as Vogue, hence the term "voguing"). "Vogue" (also directed by David Fincher) would routinely be ranked as one of the top four music videos of all time by MTV during the early 1990s. I'm Breathless also featured the song "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)," which won the Academy Award for best song in 1990 and led to a memorable performance at the ceremony.
" music video was a black-and-white video.
Madonna released her first greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection, towards the end of 1990. The album was dedicated to the "Pope", her "divine inspiration". Many have believed the dedication refers to the Catholic Church leader, but it in fact refers to Madonna's brother Christopher Ciccone. Madonna refers to her brother by the nickname "The Pope" because he manages everything. The Immaculate Collection includes fifteen of her biggest hits as well as two new songs. The collection went to #1 on many international bestseller lists, spending 9 weeks at the summit in the UK alone.
Despite the radio success of the single release of "Justify My Love", the sexual content of both the song's lyrics and its video proved to be too much for MTV USA. The network executives decided they could not air it. Madonna's record company decided to sell the video on VHS as a "video single", the first one ever released. It sold over 400,000 copies, and the CD single sold over one million. "Justify My Love" reached #1 in the Billboard singles chart, while the follow-up, "Rescue Me," went to #9.
In 1991, Madonna starred in her first documentary film, Truth or Dare / In Bed with Madonna, which chronicled her "Blond Ambition Tour;" the title was changed to Truth or Dare for its U.S. release. In it, her personality and private life were explored in intimate detail. The film showed her backstage of the tour as well as confronting family members and visiting the grave of her mother. The film grossed US$15 million in the U.S. and another US$20 million overseas, making it commercially the most successful documentary of its time.
In 1992, Madonna appeared in the Penny Marshall film, A League of Their Own, which revolved around a women's baseball team. Her performance was heralded by critics as a return to the form she'd hinted at in Desperately Seeking Susan. She wrote and performed the film's theme song, the #1 hit "This Used to Be My Playground." It became a worldwide hit and Madonna's tenth Hot 100 #1 single.
The erotic book Sex, photographed by Steven Meisel, was released on October 21, 1992 and sold for $49.95 each. Adult in nature, it featured Madonna as the centerpiece of photographs along with other celebrities of the time depicting various sexual fantasies and acts including lesbianism, sadomasochism and felching. It became an instant bestseller.
That same year, in the wake of publicity generated by the book, Madonna, at the age of 34, released her next album, Erotica. The two were linked together by the public due to their generally close release dates and overt sexual content. She co-wrote and produced this record mostly with Shep Pettibone. Almost a companion piece to the book, it featured sexual anthems that made no attempt to disguise their star's appetite for erotic fantasy and role-playing. The album spawned two U.S. top ten hits, including "Erotica," which became the highest-debuting (#3) single in the history of the Hot 100 Airplay Chart. The controversial video only aired a total of three times on MTV. In the U.S., "Erotica" was followed by "Deeper And Deeper" (#7), "Bad Girl" (#36) and "Rain" (#14). After a string of 29 consecutive top-20 singles (beginning with "Holiday"), "Bad Girl" was the first single not to break into the U.S. pop top 20. On the other hand, the ballad "Rain" was the only one of the album's singles to be played on Adult Contemporary radio; the kinder, gentler nature of the song and its video stood in direct contrast to the rest of the album.
Body of Evidence was regarded by U.S. commentators as an exercise in soft-core pornography, with Madonna's character accused of killing her lover by means of sexual intercourse. The film was R-rated and contained copious nudity and graphic sex scenes. Dangerous Game was similar in its graphic and violent content.
Madonna's 1993 world tour The Girlie Show was her most explicit and controversial to date. Coming off the back of the Erotica album, her critically-panned film Body of Evidence and her infamous Sex, The Girlie Show showed the singer at her most confrontational. She opened the show dressed as a whip-cracking dominatrix, surrounded by topless dancers including Luca Tomassini and Carrie Ann Inaba.
Controversy followed the pop star around the globe. She caused uproar in Puerto Rico by rubbing the island's flag between her legs on stage, while Orthodox Jews protested against her first-ever show in Israel. Madonna would later comment that this period of her life was designed to give the world every single morsel of what they seemed to be demanding in their invasion of her private life. She hoped that once it was all out in the open, people could settle down and focus on her work.
Bedtime Stories / Evita
In 1994, at the age of 36, Madonna released Bedtime Stories. It included "Secret", produced by Dallas Austin, and "Take a Bow", co-written and co-produced by singer/songwriter/producer Babyface (who also sang backup on the track). "Take a Bow" topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks, breaking her previous record of six weeks with "Like a Virgin," and would later help her win the lead role in Evita. The album was nominated for a Grammy in the same year, and Madonna sang "Take a Bow" at the American Music Awards.
In an attempt to improve her acting credentials, Madonna opted over the next few years to take small roles in independent films. She appeared as a singing telegram girl in Blue in the Face (1995) and as a witch in Four Rooms (1995). She played the cameo part of a phone sex company owner in Spike Lee's unsuccessful Girl 6 in 1996.
In late 1995, Madonna released Something to Remember, a collection of her greatest ballads. It featured "You'll See," one of three new songs, which went top ten. Madonna was also began gearing up to play the coveted role of Eva Perˆ„n in the 1996 film adaptation of Evita, a role she had campaigned for for ten years.
The Alan Parker film marked the first time that Madonna was heralded as an actress in a leading role. She delivered a Golden Globe-winning performance and was critically praised. The Evita soundtrack went on to become Madonna's twelfth platinum album, spawning the singles "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "You Must Love Me," the latter receiving an Oscar for best original song in a film. While "You Must Love Me" was a moderate hit on radio and MTV, it was a dance remix of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" that cemented the soundtrack's mainstream pop success. The remix became a worldwide top ten hit in December 1996/January 1997. The final release from this soundtrack was "Another Suitcase In Another Hall", which reached No.7 in the UK.
In 1996, Madonna became pregnant by her lover at the time, personal trainer Carlos Leon, and on October 14 gave birth to her daughter, Lourdes Maria (Lola) Ciccone Leon. The next year Madonna began studying Kabbalah, a mystical interpretation of the Torah. She took Yoga lessons and pursued a vigorous exercise regime that brought her body to a peak of toned fitness.
Ray Of Light
In March of 1998, at the age of 39, she released Ray of Light, an album co-produced by European electronic music performer William Orbit. The release was Madonna's most critically-acclaimed recording since Like a Prayer and her biggest hit in nearly ten years, selling more than seventeen million copies worldwide. It spawned two U.S. top-five singles, with "Frozen" and "Ray of Light." Madonna also received three Grammy awards for Ray of Light. Other singles were "Drowned World/Substitute For Love," "The Power of Good-Bye," and "Nothing Really Matters" which had her dress up as a Geisha for the video. The video for "Ray Of Light" was directed by Swedish director Jonas ˆÖkerlund and won Madonna a couple of MTV Video Music Awards in 1998 - including Video Of The Year.
After Ray of Light, Madonna contributed the top twenty airplay hit "Beautiful Stranger" to the soundtrack of the Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me film in 1999. In 2000, Madonna focused next on her pet project, a film called The Next Best Thing. Critics and audiences alike panned the film, which marked yet another disappointment in Madonna's ill-fated film career. The soundtrack spawned the worldwide (excluding the U.S., where it stalled at #29) #1 hit, "American Pie," a dance cover version of the Don McLean classic.
In 2000, at the age of 42, Madonna released the album Music. A commercial and critical hit, it saw Madonna abandon her earlier sexual and religious themes for throwaway lyrics and the "party" spirit of dance, pop, and house. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 selling 420,000 copies its first week. Music was produced partly by Orbit and French techno musician Mirwais Ahmadzai. It spawned her twelfth #1 single, "Music," plus the hits "Don't Tell Me" and "What It Feels Like for a Girl." Madonna was pregnant with her second child, Rocco, during the shooting of the "Music" video, parts of which contain animation. The controversial "What It Feels Like for a Girl" video, directed by her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, was banned by MTV and VH1 after just one airing due to its graphic violence. "Music" was nominated for four Grammys and was certified triple platinum in the U.S..
Madonna married Ritchie on 22 December 2000 at Skibo Castle in Scotland. She also appeared in Star, a short commercial film directed for BMW by Ritchie, and then began working on Swept Away at the end of the year. The film, released in 2002, was critically panned and went on to become yet another in a string of acting flops.
In 2001, Madonna went on her "Drowned World Tour." It was sold out and was Madonna's first world tour since 1993's "The Girlie Show Tour." It was later shown on a television special in the U.S. and released on DVD in November 2001 to coincide with the release of her second Greatest Hits album, GHV2. Unlike her previous greatest hits compilation, GHV2 featured a selection of radio edits of her hits from the 1992’Äì2001 period, but did not contain any new songs. The only single release was an instore/radio megamix containing songs from that era named "Thunderpuss GVH2 Megamix."
In 2002, Madonna performed the theme song to the James Bond film Die Another Day, a worldwide top-ten hit (#8 on the Billboard Hot 100). She also had a cameo in the film as a fencing instructor named Verity. The song was nominated for both a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and a Golden Raspberry for Worst Song.
Madonna's orignal "American Life
" video was widely seen as controversial and was revoked on the day of its release.
Lackluster reception for Madonna's ninth studio album, "American Life," caused her reputation to take a turn for the worse in early 2003. In yet another move that followed her pattern of creating controversy in the wake of an album's release, she filmed a music video for "American Life" which included visceral scenes depicting explosions and blood. Only days before the video premiered, the scenes with footage of bleeding war victims were removed and a scene of her tossing a hand grenade into the lap of a George W. Bush lookalike was added. Perhaps mindful of the protests and boycotts in the USA that had greeted the Dixie Chicks after they made some anti-war comments, Madonna decided not to release the original version of the video and instead opted to release a treated version showing Madonna singing the song in front of the flags of different countries. The single reached #1 in three countries and was a #2 hit in the UK, but failed to even make the top 30 in the U.S. Worldwide, it became the lowest-selling album of Madonna's career. The subsequent singles "Hollywood" and "Love Profusion" again placed Madonna on the U.K (#2 and #11) and Canadian (both #5) charts, but didn't crack the U.S. singles chart. The ballad "Nothing Fails" was released as a single in a restricted number of countries, where it enjoyed moderate success.
Madonna performed "Hollywood" in 2003 MTV Video Music Awards and kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on stage. This performance became one of the most talked-about performances in the history of MTV Video Music Awards . Shortly thereafter, she scored a hit - a duet with Britney Spears, "Me Against The Music", and released the EP Remixed & Revisited with remixes from American Life. The EP's enjoyed only moderate sales. In some countries Remixed & Revisited charted as a single, in others as an EP and in some as an album.
In 2004, Madonna embarked on the "Re-Invention World Tour," during which she played fifty-six dates in the U.S. and Europe. The tour became the highest-grossing tour of 2004, earning 125 million dollars according to Billboard magazine. Madonna was both complimented and criticized for including a notable amount of her past hits on the set list. Some critics noted that Madonna has previously stated she had no desire to tour with her older hits from the 1980s. She also performed in an aid concert that NBC organized, called Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope.
Madonna also faced a brief battle with Warner Brothers Records, with whom she shared record label Maverick, Madonna sold her shares in Maverick.
Confessions On A Dance Floor
Madonna's retro inspired "Hung Up
" music video.
In November 2005, she released her 10th studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 350,606 copies in its first week. It also debuted at #1 in 40 different countries setting a new record previously held by The Beatles. Confessions was produced primarily by Madonna and Stuart Price but also included tracks by Mirwais Ahmadzai and Bloodshy & Avant. The album received the most positive reviews since 1998's Ray of Light.
The first single, Hung Up, peaked at #1 in 41 countries and became No.1 for a record 15 weeks on the United World Charts. The track features a sample of the popular ABBA song "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight)." With the chart success of Hung Up, Madonna tied Elvis Presley for the most top ten singles on the American Billboard Hot 100.
The second single, titled "Sorry," entered the UK top 40 at #1. It was another success reaching the top ten in most countries. "Get Together," is slated to be the third single from the album to have a late spring/early summer release.
Madonna also released her second documentary, titled I'm Going To Tell You A Secret, which had been filmed during her 2004 Re-Invention world tour. She opened the MTV Europe Music Awards 2005 and the 2006 Grammy Awards with Gorillaz.
Madonna was nominated for five Australian MTV AVMAs and one MTV Asia Award. She is lending her voice to the big budget (approximately 80 million dollars) 2006 animated film Arthur and the Minimoys. Madonna provides the voice of Princess Selenia. The film, directed by Luc Besson, is expected to be released in December 2006.
Recently, Madonna announced a global concert tour to support the album. The Confessions Tour, due to run from May to September 2006, will cover North America, Japan and Europe.
Though Madonna Ciccone is half French Canadian, more often the influence of her Italian American heritage has been reflected in her work. Perhaps this is because Madonna's French Canadian mother died when Madonna was five and Madonna was subsequently raised by her Italian American father. References to Madonna's Italian heritage have often been found in her work. In the video for "Truth or Dare"/"In Bed with Madonna", Madonna describes herself as "Italian American". She says, "I'm an Italian American and proud of it." In her 2005 documentary I'm Going To Tell You a Secret, Madonna jokingly states that she has "big Italian thighs". In the video for Papa Don't Preach she wears a shirt that says, "Italians Do It Better." Madonna has described her birth name (Madonna Ciccone) as being "very Italian". The video for her second concert tour, the "Who's That Girl?" tour, was filmed mainly in Turin, Italy; the video is titled "Ciao Italia: Madonna Live from Italy". The video to her first #1 song, Like a Virgin, featured Madonna performing in Venice, Italy.
Fellow Italian American pop singer Gwen Stefani has been quoted as saying that she and Madonna are related by marriage - Stefani has claimed that her great aunt married a man from Detroit, Michigan (the area of Michigan that Madonna is from) with the last name "Ciccone." Madonna also shares a common French Canadian ancestor with fellow singer Celine Dion. 
- Main article: Madonna and the gay community
Madonna has long been a gay icon. Many of her performances have incorporated aspects of "gay culture", the most famous example being her hit song Vogue. In the 1980s, a time before most celebrities felt comfortable lending their support to AIDS charities, Madonna was one of the first major artists to speak out about the need for money for AIDS research. The Advocate, the largest LGBT magazine in the United States, once declared Madonna "the greatest gay icon of all time".
Since the late-1990s, Madonna has become a devotee of the disputed Kabbalah Centre and a disciple of its controversial head Rabbi Philip Berg and his wife Karen. Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie attend Kabbalah classes and have been reported to have adopted a number of aspects of the movement and associated with Judaism. The media has reported that Madonna has taken on the Biblical name of Esther, has donated millions of dollars to the Kabbalah Centre in London, New York and Los Angeles; no longer performs on Friday nights because it's the time when the Jewish Sabbath begins; wears a red string; and has visited Israel with members of the Kabbalah Centre to celebrate some of the Jewish holidays. She also studies personally with her own private-tutor, rabbi Eitan Yardeni, whose wife Sarah Yardeni runs Madonna's favorite charitable project, "Spirituality for Kids," a subsidiary of the Kabbalah Centre. Madonna reportedly donated 21 million dollars towards a new Kabbalah school for children. Recently references to Kabbalah Centre beliefs and principles have appeared in her music, including the track "Nobody Knows Me" from American Life (I sleep much better at night / I feel closer to the Light / Now I'm gonna try / To Improve my life).
Controversy erupted again well before the release of her most recent album Confessions on a Dance Floor. Many Israeli rabbis condemned Madonna and the forthcoming song "Isaac" (tenth on its track listing) because they believed the song to be a tribute to Rabbi Isaac Luria, also known as Yitzhak Luria (1534-1572), one of the greatest Kabbalists of all time, and claimed that Jewish law forbids using a holy rabbi's name for profit. (Whether Jewish law actually forbids this, or the rabbis were simply uncomfortable with Madonna's song, is disputed). In interviews, Madonna had called this song: "The Binding of Isaac" and rumors spread that it was based on the major episode in the life of the Hebrew patriarch Isaac. Despite continued accusations that the song is about Isaac Luria, Madonna has repeatedly denied such accusations, claiming she could not think of a title for the song and, therefore, named it after Yitzhak (Isaac) Sinwani. In the song, Madonna sings with Sinwani, an Israeli singer, who is chanting a Yemenite Jewish song. Said Madonna: "The album isn't even out, so how could Jewish scholars in Israel know what my song is about? I don't know enough about Isaac Luria to write a song, though I've learned a bit in my studies."
Madonna has openly defended her Kabbalah studies by stating, for example:
- I wouldn't say studying Kabbalah for eight years goes under the category or falls under the category of being a fad or a trend. Now there might be people who are interested in it because they think it's trendy, but I can assure you that studying Kabbalah is actually a very challenging thing to do. It requires a lot of work, a lot of reading, a lot of time, a lot of commitment and a lot of discipline.
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