Singer, Actress, Philanthropist

She is so famous she doesn’t need a last name. Madonna has sold more than 300 million records – more than any other female artist. Known for her elaborate performances with controversial, imagery and costumes, she is also is the top touring female artist of all time.

She moved from her home town in Michigan to New York City in 1978 with $35 dollars in her pocket to work as a singer and a dancer. She studied and worked hard, and eventually released a few singles (“Everybody” and “Burning Up”) that became big hits in the clubs and led to her first record deal – the self-titled “Madonna”.

From there, every record was a hit, and she eventually started her own production company. Madonna is known for doing things her way—from the beginning, she maintained control over the sound of her music, re-mixing songs when she didn’t like the way they turned out, and unapologetically recording controversial lyrics. She also dressed like nobody else, inventing her own styles. Her style was a huge influence on the way women and young girls dressed in the 1980s. She also starred in several film roles in including Susan in “Desperately Seeking Susan” and Evita in “Evita”.

Madonna lost her mother to breast cancer when she was very young, and orphans have a special place in her heart: “On my first visit to Malawi, I was devastated to meet child after child who had been orphaned by AIDS. Having lost my mother at such a young age, I felt a close connection to these children.”

In 2006 Madonna and Michael Berg founded a non-profit organization called Raising Malawi to help the poor, and especially the orphans in the impoverished African country of Malawi. The organization provides children and caregivers with food, clothing, shelter, education, medical and emotional care. Madonna matches every dollar donated to this organization, and she has adopted two children from the country.

The organization has built ten elementary schools that teach traditional art, music, and dance in addition to academic subjects to girls in rural areas of Malawi. She also sold a painting from her private collection for $7.2 million to fund education projects for girls in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.

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