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Lady Gaga: The Conscience of the Queen
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Lady Gaga: The Conscience of the Queen

By Michael Ricketson

Lady Gaga burst onto the music scene, took it by storm, and took no prisoners. Her quick rise to fame garnered criticism for supposedly copying Madonna. But isn’t that what the entertainment industry does?

If a star like Gaga comes out of nowhere and achieves success, they are ridiculed for not being original or some other hideous gossip. Sure, she went to the VMAs in a meat dress and arrived at the Grammy Awards in a giant egg, but it got people talking about her, didn’t it? Rumors flew in all distorted directions, but by 2009, she became the first artist in history to have four #1 Mainstream Top 40 Chart Hits off a debut album, and in 2010 garnered two Grammys! Rumors continued to fly regarding romance, sexuality, and even accused Gaga of being a hermaphrodite!

Fame is brutal. But talent like Gaga always prevails!

A year before recording her first album, she experienced the dark underbelly, the disgusting trash of the entertainment industry. It might explain some of her song lyrics. But that trauma led the pop icon on a journey of self-discovery. A journey that opened her eyes and sent her on a quest to change things for all of us. Never underestimate Lady Gaga. She is a force to be reckoned with both as a singer/songwriter and an Oscar-nominated actress. Simply put, Queen Gaga is here to stay!

Gifted From the Start

Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga became the baby of proud parents Cynthia and Joseph Germanotta on March 28, 1986, in Yonkers, New York. However, Lady Gaga wasn’t exactly born into poverty as her mother, a business executive, and philanthropist, and her father, an internet entrepreneur, afforded a comfortable environment.

Lady Gaga is known for her vocal and acting talents, but one surprising thing is how she became such a fantastic piano player.

Rumors floated around for some time that she was a self-taught pianist. In some ways, that is true, but there’s a bit more to it than that. She began piano lessons at age four. Her mother wanted her to take piano lessons because she wanted her daughter to be “a cultured young woman.” However, little Gaga didn’t like playing from sheet music and preferred playing by ear. That, at age four, is an amazing talent!

The piano is her favorite instrument, and that’s where she often begins her creative process. She says that “all good music can be played at a piano and still sound like a hit,” and she’s probably right. When it came to auction in 2016, her first piano had a presale value of between $100k and $200k, but it did not sell. But, of course, her net worth as of July 2021 is at $320 million, so she doesn’t really need the money. But wouldn’t it be awesome to own her first piano?

A Shooting Star

Lady Gaga attended an all-girl school before studying music at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. While there, she worked on her songwriting skills. After two years, however, she dropped out to build her career. One job as a Go-Go dancer isn’t something we would be too shocked to hear.

For a brief time, she was on her way when Def Jam Records signed her in 2005.

But it was short-lived when only a few months later they dropped her. With dogged determination, though, she began performing in clubs in New York City’s Lower East Side. That’s also when she started experimenting with what would become one of her signature talents; fashion. Over-the-top, some would say. Fabulous and glamorous, others exclaim. But, on whatever end of the spectrum you sit, there’s no mistaking the woman has style!

At 20 years old in 2007, Lady Gaga worked at Interscope Records as a songwriter for artists like Brittney Spears and New Kids on the Block. R&B artist, Akon, discovered Gaga’s talents while watching her performance in a burlesque show she created, “Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue.” 

So, he signed her to his label, Kon Live, an umbrella label of Interscope. Between 2007 and 2008, a young and excited Lady Gaga got to work on her debut album, The Fame. The first single, “Just Dance,” earned her a Grammy nomination and sent her to the top of the charts. The second single, “Poker Face,” solidified her star status. But, come on, who didn’t start dancing, or at least moving, when “Poker Face” started playing? Gaga would go on to create more hits and even jump into acting.

So Many Awards

Ok, this section is going to be short because this Diva has won a bunch! Unfortunately, it would take up so much space to list them all, so I’ll give you a peek at some of them.

In 2019 and 2021, Lady Gaga won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Also, in 2019, she earned another Grammy for Best Solo Performance. Again in 2019, she won an Oscar for Best Music (Original Song) for “Shallow” from A Star is Born. 

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, Lady Gaga has won in her career a total of 117 awards from 246 nominations. Now, if you’d like to check the rest of them out, click the previous link for a list of all of the awards bestowed upon this determined artist.

But I will say this, some of her most recent awards are impressive. Lady Gaga did something no one else has ever done: She won an Academy Award, Grammy Award, BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe all in the same year! Lady Gaga has changed the entertainment industry forever.

Love and Rumors of Love

When Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed the Oscar-winning song “Shallow,” the performance created a buzz in Hollywood that they were in a budding romance. It certainly was a steamy display. But, unfortunately, it was all an act. Gaga said it was a love story movie, and as actors, they rehearsed the song for days, making sure everything was perfect to create the illusion that they were actually in love. The plan worked because we all thought something was going on.

While Gaga is transparent about most things with her fans, she tends to keep her personal relationships close and not talk much about it.

She and Bradley were not an item, but she has had her share of boyfriends, even an engagement to talent agent Christian Carino, which she broke off. She’s currently dating Michael Polansky, who is an entrepreneur. So naturally, we all want to know who these superstars date, even though they do seem to date each other. Here’s a breakdown of her past flings, if you’re interested. You know you are.

From Tragedy to Advocacy to Action

The story above sounds so sweet and wonderful. It’s an amazing story of how a creative young girl found her passions and pursued them to an astounding career. But it wasn’t all smiles and fun for Lady Gaga. She was raped at the age of 19 by a record producer. She revealed these dark secrets on “The Me You Can’t See,” a docu-series produced by Oprah and Prince Harry. The rape left her pregnant, and she refused to reveal her attacker’s name.

She has yet to say if the pregnancy was terminated or miscarried, but to be perfectly honest, it’s not any of our business at all. A woman’s right to choose is just that: Her right, not ours. 

Lady Gaga shared how she was later diagnosed with PTSD. She said, “I had a total psychotic break, and for a couple of years, I was not the same girl,” While this was happening in 2018 and 2019, she canceled several concert dates. She also revealed her feelings of self-harm that included cutting and throwing herself against the wall. 

Imagine how this woman dealt with rape at 19 years old and then a year later began work on a debut album that would propel her to stardom. It takes courage!

Let’s be clear; human beings deal with trauma in different ways. It’s a hard thing to process, and many of us turn to drugs and alcohol to cope or to even block what happened to us. Lady Gaga is no different. In a 2013 radio interview with personality Elvis Dura, Gaga admitted to her heavy use of drugs early in her career. She said, “I was living on a totally other psychedelic plane, numbing myself completely…” and she attributed it, at the time, to hip pain.

Of course, we now know what she experienced at 19, and in retrospect, she knows that her heavy drug use had to do with that as well. But the pain she was experiencing was later diagnosed as fibromyalgia, and according to this article, “Often, symptoms of fibromyalgia intensify over time if the initial cause – trauma, in Gaga’s case – isn’t treated.” This diva worked tirelessly to create a pop dynasty all the while suffering. She says that she didn’t have time to process anything except her rapid rise to fame. Gaga says now that she takes an antipsychotic to help manage her symptoms. Without it, she says, she would “spiral very frequently.”

Because of her success with therapy and medication, she works hard to end the stigma of mental health issues, and part of that stigma is taking medication for mental health problems. So many people won’t do it. On this subject, Gaga is reported to have said, “Medicine really helped me. A lot of people are afraid of medicine for their brains to help them. I really want to erase the stigma around this.”

Her healing from this sexual assault led to her advocacy, helping to remove the stigma of mental health and to rally for LGBTQ+ issues and rights. Along with her mother, Lady Gaga created the Born This Way Foundation. “The foundation supports the mental health of young people and works with them to create a kinder and braver world. Through high-impact programming, youth-led conversations, and strategic, cross-sectoral partnerships, we aim to make kindness cool, validate the emotions of young people, and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health.” Is that an incredible mission or what?

Healing for a Better Tomorrow

Mental Health has lived in the shadows for decades. People feared others finding out they were seeing a counselor or psychiatrist. Unfortunately, this fear kept people from getting the help they needed. And if you were a kid with mental health issues, you’d rarely get any help at all.

Instead of hiding away her ordeal as a rape survivor, Lady Gaga chose to reveal herself to the world as a fighter, an innovator, an award winner, and most importantly, a survivor. She fights daily to remove the stigma of mental health issues. As a result, young people can see a Pop Icon with so much talent (and money) who has suffered just as they have. They can see a superstar, a warrior, and a survivor who cares just as much about them as her next award or song or acting role. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel because that light is Lady Gaga leading the way.

 

References

A& E Networks Television. (2021, May 17). Lady Gaga. Biography.com. Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/musician/lady-gaga.

Accolades and nominations. Gagapedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ladygaga.fandom.com/wiki/Accolades_and_nominations.

Burke, M. (2019, November 6). Lady Gaga on Bradley Cooper romance rumors: ‘it was orchestrated as a performance’. NBCNews.com. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/lady-gaga-bradley-cooper-romance-rumors-it-was-orchestrated-performance-n1077496.

By. (2021, April 22). Lady Gaga – Everything You Need to know – biography. Chillout Radio. Retrieved from https://chilloutradio.com/lady-gaga/.

Chilton, C. (2021, April 30). A complete history of Lady Gaga’s Love life. ELLE. Retrieved from https://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/g32079903/lady-gaga-dating-history/?slide=13.

Gonzales, E. (2021, August 5). Lady Gaga and her boyfriend, Michael Polansky, are reportedly the “real deal”. Harper’s BAZAAR. Retrieved from https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a30756629/who-is-michael-polansky-lady-gaga-boyfriend/.

IMDb.com. (n.d.). Lady Gaga. IMDb. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3078932/bio.

López, C. (2020, January 7). Lady Gaga told Oprah she takes an antipsychotic, and without it, she would ‘spiral very frequently’. Insider. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/lady-gaga-oprah-2020-tour-antipsychotic-fibromyalgia-ptsd-mental-health-2020-1.

López, C. (2020, January 7). Lady Gaga told Oprah she takes an antipsychotic, and without it, she would ‘spiral very frequently’. Insider. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/lady-gaga-oprah-2020-tour-antipsychotic-fibromyalgia-ptsd-mental-health-2020-1.

Levy, M. (n.d.). Lady Gaga. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lady-Gaga.

Owoseje, T. (2021, May 21). Lady Gaga says she was ‘psychotic’ after being raped at 19. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/21/entertainment/lady-gaga-rape-oprah-interview-intl-scli-wellness/index.html.

Robinson, S. (2020, October 6). Can Lady Gaga play the piano? Celeb Answers. Retrieved from https://celebanswers.com/can-lady-gaga-play-the-piano/.

Woodyatt, A. (2021, May 18). Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey discuss Mental Health in new series trailer. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/18/entertainment/harry-oprah-show-intl-scli/index.html.

Writer, T. S. (2019, November 11). Lady Gaga admits using lots of drugs, says she has ‘to be high to be creative. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved from https://www.tampabay.com/archive/2013/11/14/lady-gaga-admits-using-lots-of-drugs-says-she-has-to-be-high-to-be-creative/.

 

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