The world has a lot to say about Madonna, who turns 56 in August this year. Sinner, saint, Vixen, virtuous, Lady of the night, lady to be admired, woman who will not let the world dictate to her when it is time to get off the stage.
Personally, I think she is amazing, and I concur with so many others who say that Madonna’s real genius is her ability to adapt and change, and understand the market that she serves. Unlike all the other me-too personal music brands out there, Madge’s flashing of the body bits was ground-breaking when she first did it. Maybe it came across as too daring and controversial, but this woman has also worked really hard to grow herself. Listen to Material Girl and then listen to Like a Prayer, and in the short space between the mid-80s and late 80s, Madonna’s voice had already improved – because she worked on improving it. By the time 1996 rolled around, she was playing Evita – but rumour has it that Andrew Lloyd-Webber would not let her do the role unless she went for further voice training. Instead of letting her ego get the better of her, she gladly obliged, and played the role to critical acclaim.
In this day and age, far too few women singers and performing artists are role models for an older generation. The fabulous Tina Turner has taken a break from the music industry to enjoy her Swiss sojourn. Eartha Kitt, with her delicious voice, is no longer with us. Shirley Bassey is still going strong; Aretha Franklin still does a gig or three, as does Diana Ross. But like Tory Amos, Madonna refuses to become an irrelevant old woman, in a cruel world where older women can be relegated to the junk heap.
Madge is a perfect example of what it means to defy the worldly norms which quite often put people in a box to die. The world can certainly look forward to seeing where Madonna will be in 30 years’ time, when she will be in her 80’s telling the world, “Here I am, and I am not going away.”