Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986), known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, and businesswoman. She is known for reinventing herself throughout her career and for her versatility in numerous areas of the entertainment industry. Gaga began performing as a teenager, singing at open mic nights and acting in school plays. She studied at Collaborative Arts Project 21, through New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, before dropping out to pursue a music career. When Def Jam Recordings canceled her contract, she worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, where Akon helped her sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own label KonLive Distribution in 2007. She rose to prominence the following year with her debut album The Fame and its chart-topping singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”. The album was later reissued to include the EP The Fame Monster (2009), which yielded the singles “Bad Romance”, “Telephone”, and “Alejandro”.
Gaga’s five succeeding studio albums have all debuted atop the US Billboard 200. Her second full-length album, Born This Way (2011), explored electronic rock and techno-pop and sold more than one million copies in its first week. Its title track became the fastest-selling song on the iTunes Store with over a million downloads in less than a week. Following her EDM-influenced third album Artpop (2013), which yielded the single “Applause”, Gaga transcended dance-pop and released a jazz album with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek (2014), and the country-pop and soft rock-influenced album Joanne (2016). During this period, she also ventured into acting, playing leading roles in the miniseries American Horror Story: Hotel (2015–2016), for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, and the critically acclaimed musical drama film A Star Is Born (2018). She also contributed to the latter’s soundtrack, which spawned the chart-topping single “Shallow”, and made her the first woman to win an Academy, Grammy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe Award in one year. Gaga returned to her dance-pop roots with her sixth studio album Chromatica (2020), which featured the number-one single “Rain on Me”.
Having sold 124 million records as of 2014, Gaga is one of the world’s best-selling music artists and the fourth highest-earning female musician of the 2010s. Her achievements include various Guinness world records, 11 Grammy Awards, and awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. She has been declared Billboard‘s Artist of the Year and Woman of the Year and included among Forbes‘s power and earnings rankings. Gaga was ranked number four on VH1’s Greatest Women in Music in 2012 and second on Time‘s 2011 readers’ poll of the most influential people of the past ten years. She is known for her philanthropy and social activism, including her work related to mental health awareness and LGBT rights. Gaga founded her nonprofit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on empowering youth, improving mental health, and preventing bullying.