Happy birthday, Lady Gaga!

By Gavriella Tjandra,

Lady Gaga turns 27 today!

Born and raised in New York, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta began engaging in music at the age of four by playing piano.

She wrote her first piano ballad at the age of 13 and began performing at the age of 14.

In her early years, Gaga did not only concentrate on singing. She also lead with a main role in one of her high school productions, and even held a small role in The Sopranos.

After high school, her mother encouraged her to join Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), a musical theater training conservatory in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Even though she liked the school, Gaga withdrew from CAP21 in sophomore year to concentrate on her music. Her father agreed to pay her rent for one year, but she had to look for ways to make her music successful. At that time, she admitted that she had to look for the cheapest apartment and work really hard to get her music out there.

The singer, who found fame thanks to her eccentric dressing style, formed a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band in late 2005 with former college mates, guitarist Calvin Pia, bassist Eli Silverman, drummer Alex Beckham and booking manager Frank Fredericks. The band performed in bars - it even had a fan base.

Gaga, who was once called by a Rolling Stone writer the Queen of Pop, was discovered by music producer Joe Vulpis, who later introduced her to Grammy Award-winning music producer, Rob Fusari. Fusari contributed to the forming of the moniker Lady Gaga.

At first, Fusari and Gaga's relationship had a little glitch, but they formed Team Lovechild, in which they recorded and performed electropop. They sent their work to music industry bosses, and the Artist and Repertoire department of Def Jam Recordings picked it up. L.A. Reid signed her in the recording studio in 2006, but she was dropped from the label three months later. She turned to her family and drugs to find comfort.

Gaga was then signed to Interscope Records by the label's record executive, Vincent Herbert. She was hired to write songs for Britney Spears and label mates Fergie, New Kids on the Block and The Pussycat Dolls.

The American singer debuted her first studio album, The Fame in 2008. The first two singles off the album, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face," gained international success. The album itself received six nominations at the 52nd Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. She won two of the awards. The album also garnered Best International Album at the 2010 BRIT Awards.

The singer, whose influences include Madonna and David Bowie, then released an EP, The Fame Monster, consisting of eight songs. Its first single, "Bad Romance" won two Grammys, and topped music charts worldwide. The next two, "Telephone," featuring Beyonce, and "Alejandro," were successful, reaching the top of music charts worldwide as well.

Gaga released her third album, Born This Way in 2011, which received critical acclaim. Its singles, "Born This Way," "Judas," "Edge of Glory," "You and I," and promotional track "Hair" made the top 10 in music charts worldwide. "Born This Way" was one of the fastest-selling songs on iTunes.

Other than singing, Gaga also takes part in political activism. She has contributed to fighting HIV/AIDS by educating young women about the risks of the disease. Gaga also collaborated with MAC to launch a makeup line, the proceeds of which went toward the prevention of HIV and AIDS worldwide.

She also built the Born This Way Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that concentrates on youth empowerment and addresses issues of self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, and offers mentoring and career development.

Gaga is also in LGBT advocacy. She believes that everyone should be able to express themselves as they are. Gaga admitted that her song, "Poker Face" was a portrayal of her bisexuality. She also attended the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards accompanied by four gay and lesbian army members who were unable to serve, because of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) Policy.



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