Lady Gaga came to prominence as a recording artist following the release of her debut album The Fame (2008), which was a critical and commercial success that topped charts around the world and included the international number-one singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". After embarking on the The Fame Ball Tour, she followed the album with The Fame Monster (2009), which spawned the worldwide hit singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone" and "Alejandro". The album's success allowed her to embark on the eighteen-month long Monster Ball Tour, which later became one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time. Her 2011 album Born This Way topped the charts of most major markets and generated more international chart-topping singles, including "Born This Way", "Judas" and "The Edge of Glory". Besides her musical career, she involves herself with humanitarian causes and LGBT activism.
Influenced by David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Queen, Lady Gaga is recognized for her flamboyant, diverse and outré contributions to the music industry through her fashion, performances and music videos. She has sold an estimated 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time and her singles are some of the best selling worldwide. Her achievements include five Grammy Awards and 13 MTV Video Music Awards. Lady Gaga has consecutively appeared on Billboard magazine's Artists of the Year (scoring the definitive title in 2010), ranked fourth in VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women in Music, is regularly placed on lists composed by Forbes magazine and was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine.In 2012, Gaga was ranked at number four on Billboard's list of top moneymakers of 2011, grossing more than 25 million dollars
Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28, 1986 in New York City to parents Cynthia (née Bissett) and Joseph Germanotta, an internet entrepreneur. Descending from Italian and more distant French-Canadian roots, Gaga is the elder of two children. Her sister, Natali, a fashion student, was born in 1992. Despite her seemingly affluent upbringing in the family home in Manhattan's Upper West Side, Gaga has stressed that she did not come from a wealthy background, stating that her parents "both came from lower-class families, so we've worked for everything—my mother worked eight to eight out of the house, in telecommunications, and so did my father." From the age of 11, Gaga – who was raised Roman Catholic – attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girls Roman Catholic school on Manhattan's Upper East Side. She described her academic life in high school as "very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined" but also "a bit insecure": "I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn't fit in, and I felt like a freak." Acquaintances dispute that she did not fit in at school. "She had a core group of friends; she was a good student. She liked boys a lot, but singing was No. 1," recalled a former high school classmate Gaga began playing the piano at the age of 4, went on to write her first piano ballad at 13, and started to perform at open mike nights by the age of 14. Her passion for musical theatre brought her lead roles in high school productions, including Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. She also appeared in a very small role as a mischievous classmate in the television drama series The Sopranos in a 2001 episode titled "The Telltale Moozadell" in addition to unsuccessfully auditioning for parts in New York shows. When her time at the Convent of the Sacred Heart came to an end, her mother encouraged her to apply for the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), a musical theatre training conservatory at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. After becoming one of twenty students to gain early admission, she eventually lived in an NYU dorm on 11th Street by the age of 17. CAP21 prepared her for her future career focus in "music, art, sex and celebrity" where, in addition to sharpening her songwriting skills, she composed essays and analytical papers on art, religion, social issues and politics, including a thesis on pop artists Spencer Tunick and Damien Hirst. With CAP21, she also tried out for and won auditions, including the part of an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV's Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.But Gaga felt more creative than some of her classmates. "Once you learn how to think about art, you can teach yourself," she said.
Gaga withdrew from CAP21 at 19, in the second semester of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on her musical career. Her father agreed to pay her rent for a year, on the condition that she re-enroll at Tisch if unsuccessful. "I left my entire family, got the cheapest apartment I could find, and ate shit until somebody would listen," she remembers. Settled in a small apartment on Rivington Street towards the summer of 2005, Gaga recorded a couple of songs with hip-hop singer Grandmaster Melle Mel, for an audio book accompanying the children's book The Portal in the Park, by Cricket Casey. She also began a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band (SGBand) with some friends from NYU – guitarist Calvin Pia, bassist Eli Silverman, drummer Alex Beckham and booking manager Frank Fredericks – in September of that year. The band played a mixture of songs: some self-penned alongside classic rock numbers like Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er". Playing in bars like the Greenwich Village's The Bitter End and the Lower East Side's the Mercury Lounge, the band developed a small fan base and caught the eye of music producer Joe Vulpis. Soon after arranging time in Vulpis' studio in the months that followed, SGBand were selling their extended plays Words and Red and Blue (both 2005) at gigs around New York while becoming a local fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene.
SGBand reached their career peak at the 2006 Songwriters Hall of Fame New Songwriters Showcase at The Cutting Room in June where Wendy Starland, a musician, appeared as a talent scout for music producer Rob Fusari. Starland informed Fusari – who was searching for a female singer to front a new band – of Gaga's ability and contacted her. With SGBand disbanded, Gaga traveled daily to New Jersey to work on songs she had written and compose new material with the music producer. While in collaboration, Fusari compared some of her vocal harmonies to those of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen. It was Fusari who helped create the moniker Gaga after the Queen song "Radio Ga Ga". Gaga was in the process of trying to come up with a stage name when she received a text message from Fusari that read "Lady Gaga." He explained, "Every day, when Stef came to the studio, instead of saying hello, I would start singing 'Radio Ga Ga'. That was her entrance song" and that the text message was the result of a predictive text glitch that changed "radio" to "lady". She texted back, "That's it," and declared, "Don't ever call me Stefani again." The New York Post, however, has reported that this story is incorrect, and that the name resulted from a marketing meeting
Besides her career in music, Gaga has also contributed to various charities. For natural disasters, Gaga has helped various relief efforts. Although declining an invitation to appear on the single "We Are the World 25" to benefit victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she donated the proceeds of her January 24, 2010 concert at New York's Radio City Music Hall to the country's reconstruction relief fund. All profits from her official online store on that day were also donated. Gaga announced that an estimated total of US$500,000 was collected for the fund. Hours after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, Gaga tweeted a message and a link to Japan Prayer Bracelets. All revenue from a bracelet she designed in conjunction with the company was donated to relief efforts. As of March 29, 2011, the bracelets raised $1.5 million. However, attorney Alyson Oliver filed a lawsuit against Gaga in Detroit in June 2011, noting that the bracelet was subject to a sales tax and an extra $3.99 shipping charge was added to the price. She also believed that not all proceeds from the bracelets would go to the relief efforts, demanding a public accounting of the campaign and refunds for people who had bought the bracelet. Gaga's spokesperson called the lawsuit "meritless" and "misleading". On June 25, 2011, Gaga performed at MTV Japan's charity show in Makuhari Messe, which benefited the Japanese Red Cross