Madonna Louise Ciccone (; Italian: [tʃikˈkoːne]; born August 16, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter, and actress. Referred to as the "Queen of Pop", Madonna is noted for her continual reinvention and versatility in music production, songwriting, and visual presentation. She has pushed the boundaries of artistic expression in mainstream music, while maintaining control over every aspect of her career. Her works, which incorporate social, political, sexual, and religious themes, have generated both controversy and critical acclaim. A prominent cultural figure in the 20th and 21st centuries, Madonna remains one of the most "well-documented figures of the modern age", with a broad amount of scholarly reviews and literature works on her, as well as an academic mini subdiscipline devoted to her named Madonna studies.
Madonna moved to New York City in 1978 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing as a drummer, guitarist, and vocalist in the rock bands Breakfast Club and Emmy, she rose to solo stardom with her debut studio album, Madonna (1983). She followed it with a series of successful albums, including all-time bestsellers Like a Virgin (1984), True Blue (1986) and The Immaculate Collection (1990) as well as Grammy Award winners Ray of Light (1998) and Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005). Madonna has amassed many chart-topping singles throughout her career, including "Like a Virgin", "La Isla Bonita", "Like a Prayer", "Vogue", "Take a Bow", "Frozen", "Music", "Hung Up", and "4 Minutes".
Madonna's popularity was enhanced by roles in films such as Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Dick Tracy (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), and Evita (1996). While the lattermost won her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, many of her other films received poor reviews. As a businesswoman, Madonna founded the company Maverick in 1992. It included Maverick Records, one of the most successful artist-run labels in history. Her other ventures include fashion brands, written works, health clubs, and filmmaking. She contributes to various charities, having founded the Ray of Light Foundation in 1998 and Raising Malawi in 2006.
With sales of over 300 million records worldwide, Madonna is the best-selling female recording artist of all time. She is the most successful solo artist in the history of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and has achieved the most number-one singles by a woman in Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. With a revenue of over U.S. $1.5 billion from her concert tickets, she remains the highest-grossing female touring artist worldwide. Forbes has named Madonna the annual top-earning female musician a record 11 times across four decades (1980s–2010s). She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, her first year of eligibility. Madonna was ranked as the greatest woman in music by VH1, and as the greatest music video artist ever by MTV and Billboard. Rolling Stone also listed her among its greatest artists and greatest songwriters of all time.