It’s pretty amazing to think that Madonna rose from relative obscurity to massive fame in just a few short years. It all started in 1981 when Madonna got signed to Gotham Records after striking up a friendship with Camille Barbone. Camille took Madonna under her wing and helped get her signed with Gotham, her first big break into the music business.
Camille mentored Madonna and even acted as her manager for a year. Before signing with Gotham, people would sometimes comment on how great her singing voice was, but Madonna dismissed these compliments because she didn’t think she could sing. Although Madonna’s first demo under Camille was a flop, it was the first time she felt as if people were taking her seriously.
Frida Kahlo Is a Personal Hero
Many people have looked up to Madonna over the decades, but who does the “Queen of Pop” look up to? Well, another artist, of course. In a 2013 essay she wrote for “Harper’s Bazaar,” Madonna revealed that she would often think of artist Frida Kahlo during those early, tough days in New York.
She had a tiny postcard portrait of the artist taped up in her apartment, and she would look at it when she needed strength or felt like giving up on her dreams. Frida Kahlo made history by walking to the beat of her own drum despite what other people had to say, and Madonna admired that.
Madonna’s First Acting Role
Madonna has made a name for herself as an actress as well as a musical artist. However, not many people know about her very first acting role. Between 1979 and 1981, Madonna filmed “A Certain Sacrifice,” an underground art film with a very scandalous plot that we cannot repeat here.
Interestingly, “A Certain Sacrifice” wasn’t released until 1985. Madonna’s career was well underway by then, making it pretty obvious that the film’s director only released it to capitalize on her fame. Madonna wasn’t happy about the film’s release and even tried to buy the rights from the director. Today, this cult film is next to impossible to find and watch. Reviewers panned the movie, so it’s probably for the best.
Madonna Meets Mark
Once Madonna recorded her first demo, she began working the dance and nightclub circuit to try and get her music played. This was how she met DJ Mark Kamins, who would change her life forever. The two struck up a romantic relationship, and Mark used his connections to get Madonna a meeting with Seymour Stein.
Any music buff will instantly recognize that name. Seymour Stein was the president of Sire Records at the time and was famous for launching the careers of the Ramones and the Talking Heads, to name a few. Stein signed Madonna for two singles to start, and the rest is history.
“Everybody” is the song that started it all for Madonna. An early version of the dance track served as Madonna’s demo that she would pitch to New York DJs and nightclubs. The demo version of the song was recorded before Madonna was signed to a record label, but it’s what got the attention of producer Seymour Stein.
After getting signed to Sire Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros, “Everybody” became Madonna’s first official single. The song really started to take off because dance music was popular in the early 80s. The song peaked at #3 in the charts, which was quite an achievement for a debut. Madonna even made her TV debut with the song, performing it on “Dancin’ on Air” in 1983.