By Lisa Popeil

Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986), Lady Gaga was born and raised in New York City. She quickly developed a passion for music, learning to play the piano by ear at 4 and composing her own ballads, taking vocal lessons and started writing songs by the age of 13. A year later she began performing at open mic nights. 


Working with Christina Aguilera’s vocal coach, Gaga studied classical piano and sang in a classic-rock high school band at Manhattan private school Convent of the Sacred Heart. She performed lead roles in high school productions (including Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum). She also appeared in a very small role as a mischievous classmate in the television drama series The Sopranos in a 2001 episode titled “The Telltale Moozadell” and auditioned for New York shows without success.


After high school, her mother encouraged her to apply for the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), a musical theater training conservatory at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. At age seventeen she became one of twenty students to gain early admission, and lived in an NYU dorm on 11th Street. In addition to sharpening her songwriting skills, she composed essays and analytical papers on art, religion, social issues, and politics. Gaga withdrew from CAP21 at age 19, in the second semester of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on her musical career. ”I thought I could teach myself about art better than the school could,” she once told Elle Magazine.


Fascinated with combining art, religion, politics, sex and music into the pinnacle of pop artistry, Gaga go-go danced, worked as a waitress while dancing in Lower East Side burlesque clubs and singing in dive bars.


In the summer of 2005, she began a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band (SGBand) with some friends from NYU. In March 2006, Gaga met music producer Rob Fusari and worked on composing new material. Though signed and dropped by Island Def Jam records, through her songwriting for Sony/ATV Music Publishing she caught the attention of producer/writer/artist Akon. His interest led to her record contract with Interscope Records. SGBand reached their career peak at the 2006 Songwriters Hall of Fame New Songwriters Showcase at The Cutting Room in June where Wendy Starland, a musician, appeared as a talent scout for Fusari.


Gaga was in the process of trying to come up with a stage name when she received a text message from Fusari that read “Lady Gaga.” He explained, “Every day, when Stef came to the studio, instead of saying hello, I would start singing ‘Radio Ga Ga’. That was her entrance song” and that the text message was the result of a predictive text glitch that changed “radio” to “lady”. She texted back, “That’s it,” and declared, “Don’t ever call me Stefani again.”


In 2007, she began working with Moroccan-American-Swedish producer RedOne which led her to complete her first album The Fame. She supported the album with a tour in Europe and in gay clubs in the US, as well as opening for New Kids on the Block’s US tour. The singer, who writes all of her own tracks, made her debut with the electro-pop single “Just Dance.”


“I write about what I know: sex, pornography, art, fame obsession, drugs, and alcohol,” Gaga once told Elle Magazine. Her second single ‘Poker Face’ reached #1 in several major music markets worldwide in 2009, selling 9.8 million singles and was nominated for Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.



1-Early musical training can be a boon to your career.  Start early and get good.


2- Collaborate and brain-storm with like-minded musicians and artists.


3-Be passionate about your musical direction, even to the point of delusion. You must believe in yourself despite all reasoning.


4-Being sexually provocative gets attention. Creating a shocking image keeps you memorable.


5-Convince those around you that you are great. Then be great.


6-Perform anywhere and often. Don’t miss an opportunity to be seen and heard. 


7-You’re only one well-connected person away from a bigger career. The more you perform, the more likely that person will come into your life and steer you onward.