Birthplace: New York, New York
Albums: The Fame (2008); The Fame Monster (2009); Born This Way (2011)
Awards: Billboard Music Awards 7; Grammy Awards 5; MTV Video Music Awards 13; Teen Choice Awards 3
Hits: "Just Dance", "Poker Face", "Paparazzi", "Bad Romance", "Telephone", "Alejandro", "Born This Way"
Other: Billboard ranked her the 73rd Artist of the 2000–10 decade.
Before acquiring her famous pseudonym, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta developed a love of music at a very young age, playing the piano at age four and composing at age thirteen. Performing came naturally, and in her early teens she sang at open-mike nights and played lead roles in school plays. She earned early admission to the prestigious Collaborative Arts Project 21 at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts at age seventeen.
There were some diversions on the road to fame. She left CAP21 to focus on her music career, and while finding some success, she did not manage to break out. It was during this period she decided on the name Lady Gaga. The story goes it was suggested by producer Rob Fusari, based on the song "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen. Now Lady Gaga, she was signed, then dropped a few months later by Def Jam Records in 2006.
After that setback, Lady Gaga focused on performing and refining the persona that is so well known today. She collaborated with a performance artist known as Lady Starlight while Fusari shopped her music. That work paid off, and a subsidiary of Interscope Records signed Gaga in 2007. She moved to LA to finish work on her first album: The Fame.
The Fame had a rocky start, but thanks to what were essentially "sleeper" hits ("Just Dance" and "Poker Face"), the album exploded, eventually going 3x Platinum in the US and reaching the top of the charts in Canada and the UK. It peaked at #2 in the US and earned 2 of her Grammys, including Best Electronic/Dance Album.
While touring in support of the album, Gaga wrote an EP called "The Fame Monster". This spawned three more hits, including "Bad Romance" and "Telephone," and put three more Grammys on her mantle in the process. Despite having only recently finished her first major concert tour, Lady Gaga returned to the road for the "The Monster Ball Tour." It would last over a year and become one of the highest grossing concert tours in history.
2011 brought Born This Way to the shelves and the top of the charts worldwide. Born This Way sold around 6 million albums a year and half since release and earned three Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year.
Though Lady Gaga continues to branch out from music, the length of her tours suggests there's little doubt she's committed to performing in front of the crowd. She continues to write and produce new music, and fans (her "Little Monsters") continue to line up to see her shows.
The success of the music is only one element of Lady Gaga. The persona, the fashion, and a devotion to causes fuels her fame just as much as the music. Her tours aren't simple concerts, but elaborate theatrical performance pieces, sometimes controversial, but always entertaining. She can sell out the biggest venues, and makes for a must-see show whenever she's in town.