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Born near Detroit, Madonna Ciccone was the eldest daughter of eight children. Exhibiting a flair for showbiz at a young age, she signed up for artistic outlets such as school shows, the cheerleading squad, piano lessons, and ballet classes. Her dancing skills earned her a scholarship to attend the University of Michigan but in 1978, she grew impatient for stardom, dropped out, and moved to New York.
A series of low-wage jobs ensued before Madonna landed some short-lived gigs with the acclaimed dance troupes of Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham. Her attention eventually wavered away from dance to music and she joined a succession of small-time bands. During the early eighties, she first tried her hand at writing songs and gradually learned to play guitar and piano. Landing gigs singing at local dance clubs, she attracted considerable attention for her boogie-inducing tunes and her enthusiastic, naughty stage presence. In 1982, a star DJ gave Madonna her big break: he created a club-scene hit from one of her demo singles, "Everybody," introduced the budding performer to Warner Bros. executives and was promptly signed.
Madonna's debut album was released in 1983 and tracks from it became must-plays in New York's nightclubs. The record's first single, "Holiday," made the leap from dance-floor turntables to airplay by inner-city radio stations and into America's Top 20 chart. In quick succession, "Lucky Star" and "Borderline" ...