Madonna (born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958), is an American recording artist, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977, for a career in modern dance. After performing as a member of the pop musical groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her self-titled debut album, Madonna in 1983 by Sire Records.
A series of hit singles from her studio albums Like a Virgin (1984) and True Blue (1986) gained her global recognition, establishing her as a pop icon for pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. She also gained recognition for her role in the film Desperately Seeking Susan (1985). Expanding on the use of religious imagery with Like a Prayer (1989), Madonna received positive critical reception for her diverse musical productions, while at the same time receiving criticism from religious conservatives and the Vatican. In 1992, Madonna founded the Maverick corporation, a joint venture between herself and Time Warner. The same year, she expanded the use of sexually explicit material in her work, beginning the release of the studio album Erotica, followed by the publishing of the coffee table book Sex, and starring in the erotic thriller Body of Evidence, all of which received negative responses from conservatives and liberals alike.
In 1996, Madonna played the starring role in the film, Evita, for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. Her single, "You Must Love Me" which was featured on the film's soundtrack album won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Madonna's seventh studio album Ray of Light (1998) became one of her most critically acclaimed, recognized for its lyrical depth. In 2005, Madonna released Confessions on a Dance Floor, which earned the Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album. Her eleventh studio album Hard Candy (2008), became her seventh to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Departing from Warner Bros. Records, Madonna signed an unprecedented $120 million dollar contract with Live Nation the same year.
Madonna is ranked by the Recording Industry Association of America as the best-selling female rock artist of the twentieth century and the second top-selling female artist in the United States with sixty-three million certified albums; she has sold over two-hundred million albums worldwide. In 2007, Guinness World Records listed her as the world's most successful female recording artist of all time and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following year. Considered to be one of the most influential women in contemporary music, Madonna has been known for continually reinventing her music and image and for retaining a standard of anonymity within the recording industry; she is recognized as an influence among numerous music artists.