Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986), better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter and performance artist. After being signed to and quickly dropped from Def Jam Records at age 19, she began performing in the rock music scene of New York City's Lower East Side. During this time, she was also working at Interscope Records as a songwriter for several established acts, including Akon, who, after hearing Gaga sing, convinced Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine to sign her to a joint deal with the label and Akon's Kon Live Distribution label.
Her debut album The Fame, was released in August 2008 and was a critical and commercial success. In addition to receiving generally positive reviews, it has gone to number one in four countries, also topping the Billboard Top Electronic Albums chart in the United States. The album's first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face", have become international number-one hits, and the former was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 51st Grammy Awards. In 2009, after having opened for New Kids on the Block and the Pussycat Dolls, Gaga embarked on her first headlining tour, The Fame Ball Tour.
Gaga is inspired by glam rockers such as David Bowie and Queen, as well as pop singers such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. She is also inspired by fashion, which she has said is an essential component to her songwriting and performances. To date she has sold over 20 million digital singles and more than four million albums worldwide.