August 16 ~  Real Life Madonna: Music

"If you're going to be an artist, real life is your inspiration." ~ Madonna

Real life, controversy, and spirit inspire Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (1958-), born on this day in Bay City, Michigan.

Historically speaking, today is a special day for the entertainment beacon. In 1985, she wed actor Sean Penn. One year later to the day, her song, Papa Don't Preach, hit #1, as did True Blue, what many call her finest album.

The story goes that the 5'4" dynamo chased fame to New York City in 1977 to study ballet with just $37 in her pocket. Myth or not, by 1982 she had her first hit, Everybody. By 1985, she was on the cover of Time magazine and playing to 350,000 fans in 27 U.S. cities.

Through the years, this icon of pop culture has evolved and reinvented herself, scandalized and achieved global recognition. Madonna knows how to use the media. She is in your face and relishes her controversy.

She once explained her outspokenness: "At lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want."

A steamroller.

Love or hate her, she's a savvy businesswoman, expert self-marketer, and talented performer. In 2007, she was ranked the fourth-richest woman in entertainment by Forbes, with a net worth of $325 million.

"As much as people complain and criticize me," she proclaimed, "I've touched a nerve in them somehow."

Let real life be your inspiration.