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Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta - known professionally as Lady Gaga - is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. A popular contemporary recording artist, she is known for experimenting with new musical ideas and images and for her unconventional and provocative work.
Growing up, Gaga wrote songs, played at open mic nights, and performed in school plays. She also studied at CAP21 through New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career. After being dropped from a contract with Def Jam Recordings, Gaga 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.
Gaga rose to prominence in 2008 with the release of her debut album, a dance-pop and electropop record titled The Fame, and its internationally chart-topping singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), featuring the singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro", also proved successful.
Gaga's second full-length album Born This Way (2011) explored electronic rock and techno. It topped the charts in more than 20 countries, including the US, where it sold more than one million copies in its first week. Its title track also became the fastest selling song on iTunes with over a million downloads in less than a week. Gaga ventured into R&B and disco with her third album Artpop (2013), which topped the US charts and included the single "Applause". In 2014, Gaga released a jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek, her third consecutive number one album in the US. For her acting work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel (2015–2016), Gaga won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 2016. With her fifth studio album Joanne (2016), she incorporated various genres such as country and pop, and became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s.
Having sold 27 million albums and 146 million singles as of January 2016, Gaga is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Her achievements include several Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, six Grammy Awards, and awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Gaga has been declared Billboard's Artist of the Year and been included among Forbes's power and earnings rankings. She was ranked at number four on VH1's Greatest Women in Music in 2012, finished second on Time's 2011 readers' poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, and was named Billboard's Woman of the Year in 2015. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights, and for her non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.