Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born 20 March 1986), best known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer-songwriter and musician. The latter part of the name is variably spelled either GaGa or Gaga. She was born in Yonkers, New York and grew up in Manhattan, where she attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. At age 20, she began working for Interscope Records as a songwriter, penning songs for pop acts such as the Pussycat Dolls. She has been influenced by glam rockers such as David Bowie and Queen as well as '80s pop singers such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.
After singer-songwriter and record producer Akon recognised that Gaga also had vocal talent, he signed her to a joint deal with his own label, Kon Live Distribution, and then started to work on her own new material for her debut album. In 2008, Gaga released The Fame, which she explained was "about how anyone can feel famous". To date, the album spawned the hit singles "Just Dance" (nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 51st Grammy Awards) and "Poker Face".
Lady Gaga was born in Yonkers, New York to an internet entrepreneur father and a business partner; both of whom are Italian. As a child, she attended the private Catholic school Convent of the Sacred Heart. Having learned piano by ear at the age of four, Gaga went on to write her first piano ballad at 13 and began performing at open mic nights by the age of 14. At the age of seventeen, Gaga was one of twenty people in the world to have gained early admission to the New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied music. She honed her writing skills by composing essays and analytical papers focusing on topics such as art, religion and socio-political order. However she withdrew from the New York University.
After she moved out of her parent's house, Gaga started hanging out downtown, performing in the Lower East Side club scene with bands Mackin Pulsifer and SGBand. Finding herself surrounded by singers who all wrote the same style of music, she decided to do something fresh and provocative in the rock 'n roll underground: pop music. Her entrepreneur father was shocked when she ran off to the Lower East Side to dabble in drugs and appear in burlesque shows at dive bars with drag queens and go-go dancers. "He couldn't look at me for a few months," she admits of her early experimentation. "I was in leather thongs, so it was hard for him — he just didn't understand."
Gaga got her stage name when the music producer Rob Fusari compared her vocal style to that of Freddie Mercury and took the name 'Gaga' from the Queen song, "Radio Ga-Ga". It was Fusari who helped her to write some of her early hits, including "Disco Heaven", "Dirty Ice Cream" and "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich".