Cyndi Lauper BiographySinger, Cyndi Lauper is widely regarded as one of the first female recording artists to embrace being different and unique while building a massive following.
Her musical success came as a result of not only her memorable songs and unique style, but her enduring dedication to honoring uniqueness in all its forms.
She has had a long and illustrious career in the music industry and is still working on new projects to this day; however, things were not always easy for her and her life actually got off to a pretty rocky start.
Childhood and Inspirations
Born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper to parents who divorced when she was only 5, Cyndi spent the bulk of her youth growing up in Ozone Park, a small neighborhood in Queens, New York City. Her birth took place in Brooklyn and her earliest years were spent there before moving to Ozone Park at 4.
Cyndi's mother took charge of her and her two siblings (Fred and Ellen) following her divorce - raising them to share in her own love of art by frequenting events and museums in Manhattan. Lauper's time in school was reputedly riddled with hardships, but her interest in music steadily grew and blossomed.
At age 12, she was already writing songs of her own.
Cyndi’s Early Career
Cyndi fled home at 17 in an effort to leave her stepfather's abuse behind and set about joining the work force.
In a flash, she found herself in Canada. Anguished, she spent two weeks soul-searching in the woods with her dog before finally venturing all the way to Vermont.
She bounced between multiple odd jobs and took art classes at Johnson State College at the time to satisfy her thirst for creative expression.
The 70's saw Lauper performing with multiple cover bands such as "Doc West" and "Flyer." Nearing the decade's end, in '77, she suffered a vocal cord injury that threatened to keep her from ever singing again, but recovered with the help of a vocal coach.
It was her stint as lead vocalist of "Blue Angel" that gave her a taste of success. She and the band were signed by Polydor Records thanks to Steve Massarsky, their manager at the time. However, when their self-titled album tanked commercially (despite being acclaimed by critics), the band fell apart - firing Massarsky, who then sued them for $80,000.
Cyndi spent the difficult period that followed bankrupt and working in various retail stores as well as waitressing. It was the time she spent working in thrift stores that allegedly sparked her fashion transition to "thrift-store chic" that would later serve to seriously set her apart from other artists at the time.
Cyndi's Rapid Rise to Fame
Cyndi went back to singing and finally caught her chance at success in a bar in New York. Her singing had caught the ear of David Wolff, who then got her signed by Portrait Records.
Cue the gestation and release of her debut album, "She's So Unusual."
"She's So Unusual" took the world by surprise. Cyndi's unique style and sound catapulted her to international icon status in a flash and her album went on to be the first female debut album with 4 top-five hits on Billboard's "Hot 100."
Songs like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time" were veritable pop sensations at release and have since become truly legendary offerings of the genre.
Awards poured in from all directions with nominations for Record of the Year and Album of the Year in the mix. It actually won a Grammy for Best Album Package!
Her fame grew even larger as she began making appearances in WWF events alongside Hulk Hogan, a move that fit perfectly with her raw and unrestrained image.
Continued Success and Achievement
In 1986, Cyndi put out her album "True Colors" which was massively successful, though to a lesser degree than her first. It tackled tough subjects tastefully - championing the struggles of the LGBT community and setting the philosophical tone for her many musical efforts to come.
The titular track charted at #1 on Billboard's "Hot 100" and ended up being licensed to Kodak for the company's commercials.
This period saw Lauper debuting in film, though her first movie appearance did very poorly. The movie itself, "Vibes," was a flop in all respects, but the song Cyndi released for it ("Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)") did quite well in Australia.
Her third album, "A Night to Remember" had only 1 hit; Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night," a number 6 single.
Marriage, Albums and More
Although Lauper's wide scale fame is still confined to her early two albums, she has yet to stop fervently producing thoughtful music.
After marrying actor David Thornton in 1991, Cyndi went on releasing albums, one after another to significantly less commercial success than her first 3. In fact, both her albums "Sisters of Avalon" and "Shine" were released exclusively in Japan.
She jumped back into acting as well - starring in "Life with Mikey" and "Mad About You," the latter of which won her an Emmy. A slew of cameos and accomplishments followed as well as the birth of her son Declyn W. Thornton.
Her albums "Bring Ya to the Brink" and "Memphis Blues" were very well received and featured charting hits. In the case of "Memphis Blues," the entire album held the #1 spot on Billboard's Blues Albums chart for 14 weeks straight!
Cyndi's Musical, Most Recent Album and Legacy
In 2012, a musical entitled "Kinky Boots" opened in Chicago. It was hugely successful, with 13 nominations and 6 wins at the Tony Awards. Best of all, Cyndi had composed the music and lyrics herself - landing a Tony Award for Best Original Score in the process.
She released her most recent album, "Detour" in 2016; a country album she'd been working on with top producers.
Lauper continues inspiring others to this day and will forever be admired as the world's first big female star to take a strange sense of style mainstream. A true icon in the world's eyes, Cyndi Lauper's impact on music, art and even fashion won't likely be forgotten any time soon.