Born in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna Louise Ciccone 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 signed with Sire Records (an auxiliary label of Warner Bros. Records) in 1982 and released her eponymous debut album the following year.


Having sold more than 300 million records worldwide, Madonna is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) listed her as the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second highest-certified female artist in the United States.
The book Sex, photographed by Steven Meisel, received strong negative reaction from the media and the general public, but sold 1.5 million copies at $50 each in a matter of days.

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Madonna, working with photographer Steven Klein again, completed a film called secretprojectrevolution. With the film she launched the Art for Freedom initiative, which helped to promote "art and free speech as a means to address persecution and injustice across the globe". The website for the project has had over 3,000 art related submissions since its inception, with Madonna regularly monitoring and enlisting the help of other artists like David Blaine and Katy Perry as guest curators.