If you think Lady Gaga was an overnight sensation, think again. She wasn’t born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, either. She climbed through the ranks the old fashioned way with hard work and creative talent. “I did this the way you are supposed to. I played every club in New York City and I bombed in every club . . . I found myself as an artist,” the diva said on her official website.
Growing up in Manhattan as part of a solid middle class family, Lady Gaga’s father was a telecom entrepreneur and her mother also worked in the technical field. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Gaga’s talent was obvious at an early age. When she was only four years old she played piano by ear. She and sister Natalie attended private religious schools where Stefani’s talent became apparent to professionals in the field of music. As an eighth grader she landed competitive lead roles in school musicals. At age 13 she penned and played her own piano ballad. During her Sweet 16 party her parents handed out music CDs to guests of the birthday girl singing love ballads.
Lady Gaga was recognized as prodigy status when the elite New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts gave her early admission, a rarity at the exclusive academy. After experiencing what the school had to offer, she dropped out during her second year. She felt she could gain more on her own by teaching herself about music, style and performance through her own experiences. Her father agreed to pay rent on a New York apartment for one year if she would agree to return to school is she didn’t make it in the music industry. Later, during her experimental stage with music and drugs, she gave up drugs because she did not want to lose her father’s respect.
Gifted with musical talent as a writer and performer, Gaga’s journey on her rise to fame included open mike nights and bookings as a go go dancer in a strip club and a bikini clad pianist. While she fronted her own rock band and did a burlesque show with Wendy Starland, she wrote songs for Britney Spears, Pussy Cat Dolls and the Black Eyed Peas and worked on changing her image.
Influenced by Michael Jackson, David Bowie and the music of Queen, the young artist’s style showed glimmers of all three. With help from collaborator Rob Fasari, the soon-to-be Lady Gaga continued to reinvent herself evolving from brunette to blonde, eventually resulting in an unmatched, glammed-out, high fashion look. Fasari was instrumental in coming up with the performer's name. In a text, he referred to the Queen song, Radio Gaga. She settled on Lady Gaga that same day.
When she turned 19 she signed a short lived deal with Def Jam Records. Continuing to perform at diverse music venues drew more fans aided by contract with Stream Line part of Interscope Records. During that stint rap artist Akon recognized her potential and signed Lady Gaga to his label, Kon Live Distribution. With the help of producer RedOne, her debut album, The Fame, with its first top ten single, “Just Dance” debuted Aug. 19, 2008 and Lady Gaga’s diva status went as wild as some of her costumes. Gaga evolved from the girl who once spent a waitress check on a $600 designer purse having her own creative team she calls Haus of Gaga.
Last year Lady Gaga made $62 million and was ranked 4th on the Forbes Most Powerful Celebrities List. In addition to setting new records in sales, Lady Gaga has more Twitter and Facebook followers than any person in the world. The social networks list over 5 million and 10 million followers, respectively. In addition, Gaga is the very first artist in history to top the 5 billion video viewing mark.
Such a high level of star status at the age of 24 might make her success look quick and easy. But, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta’s transformation into Lady Gaga took a lifetime of practice.
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