Madonna (born Madonna Louise Ciccone; August 16, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, director, dancer and entrepreneur. She has sold more than 300 million records worldwide and is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records. Considered to be one of the "25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century" by Time for being an influential figure in contemporary music, she is known for continuously reinventing both her music and image, and for retaining a standard of autonomy within the recording industry. Critics have praised her diverse musical productions which have also been known to induce controversy.
Born in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her self-titled debut album in 1983. She followed it with a series of albums that attained immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Throughout her career, many of her songs have hit number one on the record charts, including "Like a Virgin", "Papa Don't Preach", "Into the Groove" "Like a Prayer", "Vogue", "Frozen", "Music", "Hung Up", and "4 Minutes".
Although she received generally positive reviews for her role in Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), her later film appearances received mixed commentary. She received critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Evita (1996), but has received harsh feedback for other performances. Her other ventures include: fashion design, writing children's books, and film directing and producing. She has been acclaimed as a businesswoman. In 1992, she founded entertainment company Maverick as a joint venture with Time Warner. In 2007, she signed a US $120 million record, touring and merchandising contract with Live Nation.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Madonna is the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second top-selling female albums artist in the United States, with 64.5 million certified albums. In 2008, Billboard ranked her at number two, behind only The Beatles, on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, making her the most successful solo artist in the history of the chart. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the same year. In 2012, she was crowned the "Greatest Woman In Music" by VH1.