Happy 54th Birthday, Madonna! Celebrating Madge and Six Simpatico Sister Sirens | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Happy 54th Birthday, Madonna! Celebrating Madge and Six Simpatico Sister Sirens

Born August 16, 1958, Madonna Louise Ciccone has come a long way since she first burst on the scene as pop music's "It Girl" of the early 1980s. Known by various names -- Madge, Esther, the Material Girl, and some unfit for a family news source -- Madonna is easily the top-selling female recording artists of all time and also the most controversial. A singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, activist, entrepreneur, and all-round entertainer, she's successfully reinvented herself throughout her career. She's often touted as both the Queen of Reinvention and the Queen of Pop, and it's clear she presides over both domains with confidence and clarity. It was convenient, if unintended, that her career flourished with the advent of MTV and that she took full advantage of the new medium to hew her image. She is, in every sense, the most media-savvy performer to come along in the past 50 years, Elvis and the Beatles notwithstanding.

Still, what's most impressive about Madonna -- beyond her outrageous stage antics, crazy costumes, outspoken opinions, African adoptions, and Kabbalistic tendencies -- is her ability to challenge herself and her audience by pushing the buttons and defying whatever norms and expectations society may harbor. She shows us what it feels like for a girl in a man's world. 

Madonna has aroused the ire of critics, governments, MTV, the Catholic Church, big business, and practically every other entity with whom she might have otherwise courted favor. She is, in short, true only to herself and her art, making her the most uncompromising artist of the modern era. And that's why, even at age 54, every move Madonna makes attracts interest and attention from admirers and critics alike.

Still, despite her singular style, there are only a handful of other women who could be considered kindred spirits. And while the influence might not always be apparent, it's fair to consider them simpatico sisters.

Let's start by giving Cher her hurrahs for a career that eschewed compromise as part of her MO. While she started as a willing foil for her husband and musical partner Sonny Bono, her ability to forge solo stardom proved she had her own acumen when it came to reinvention. Her talent, tenacity, glitzy image, and ability to weld sexual suggestion have made her an outspoken icon unafraid to court controversy.

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Lee Zimmerman

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