Lady Gaga FAQ Goes Online
Who is Lady Gaga?: Lady Gaga (born Stefani Germanotta) is a 27-year-old singer, designer, and actress. Born in New York City, Gaga was raised on the Upper West Side into a Roman Catholic family and began playing piano when she was four-years-old and performing only a short time later. A brief enrollment in an NYU musical theatre conservatory ended at age 19 when Gaga decided to focus on a career in pop music. She bounced around the New York City club scene and record label talent development for roughly three years before releasing her debut record, The Fame, in 2008. Her third full-length, ARTPOP, was released yesterday (November 11), and it represents the synthesis of many of the musical and aesthetic ideas Gaga has toyed with throughout her career.
How did that young musical theatre enthusiast transform into the art-damaged diva we know and love today? : After leaving the CAP21 program hosted by NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2005, Gaga (still performing under her birth name) struck out on her own by fronting the Stefani Germanotta Band with some NYU contemporaries. The band recorded a few EPs and gigged regularly in Lower East Side clubs when Gaga was scouted by producer Rob Fusari, who was looking for a female singer to head up a new band of his own conception. She earned the moniker "Lady Gaga" around this time — an apocryphal story involves the Queen song "Radio Ga Ga" and the auto-correct function on Fusari's cellphone — and got a deal with Def Jam on the strength of their work together in September 2006. Unfortunately, she was dropped by the label after only three months of development, which forced a return to her old Lower East Side stomping grounds and found Gaga plunging into a period of heavy drug use and burlesque show experimentation.
Her career depression didn't last long: A new partnership with the performance artist Lady Starlight led to positive reviews and a slot at Lollapalooza 2007, and Fusari successfully shopped their work together to record executive Vincent Herbert, who signed Gaga to his label Streamline Records (an imprint of Interscope) that year. She also signed a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV, writing songs for artists like Britney Spears and New Kids on the Block; her work in this sphere earned the attention of Akon — yes, that Akon — who convinced Interscope head honcho Jimmy Iovine to sign Gaga to a joint deal with his own label Kon Live.
So what made her different from any number of potential pop stars out there? : Gaga's tumultuous development, formal musical training, and her time spent steeping in the New York underground all blended together to give her glossy pop compositions a slight bite, a bit of grit: her performances with Lady Starlight, initially built around challenging electronic pieces, were eventually tempered by melody and glammy flair worthy of David Bowie or the man behind Gaga's stage name, Freddie Mercury. By the end of 2007, which marked the start of recording for her debut album The Fame with songwriter/producer RedOne, Gaga had filed her sound and image to a sharp edge. She also asserted herself as a singular creative force before gaining anything resembling a commercial foothold, a bold move that set her apart from other artists. This strong creative hand is most evident in her fostering of the Haus of Gaga, a creative squad inspired by Andy Warhol's Factory, as early as 2008. Get more FAQs here.
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