The website of NBC lists Madonna as one of the guests on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on September 25th. The other guest is Camila Cabello. It doesn't mention any details on M's appearance yet.
The singer tells EW about her Rebel Heart Tour's prescient political messages and why she might be done with arena shows
Whether she's riding a sexy nun like a human surfboard (as one does) or performing stripped-down versions of old hits, no one entertains — or provokes — like Madonna. That much is clear from her Rebel Heart Tour concert film and live album combo, out now, which documents her 2015-16 world tour along with behind-the-scenes footage. But who knows when fans might next get a chance to see her gyrate in front of massive video screens or outdo herself with elaborate costume changes. The Material Girl says she's pushed arena shows to the limit and is now thinking of developing a smaller, more intimate kind of show. "It's time for me to take a different approach and really get back down to the beauty and simplicity of music and lyrics," she tells EW. Below, the 59-year-old looks back on the Rebel Heart Tour's prescient political messages, dishes on her post-show routines, and gives a tight-lipped (but exciting!) progress report on new music.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This tour opened with ominous video footage of you saying, "When those fascist dictators posing as righteous men come for you…. be prepared to fight for what you believe in." You recorded that in 2015, but it feels especially timely now.
Madonna: Yeah, people should listen to me! [Laughs]
When you look at the state of the world in 2017, do you think I told you so, or are you surprised about where we find ourselves?
No, I'm not surprised at all. I was already witnessing it on the previous tour: The winds were changing, and people were becoming more and more fearful and marginalized. I thought we were going backwards on a lot of the progress that we've made as the human race. So cut to my Rebel Heart Tour and then the election and then what's happened in the rest of the world — of course I'm saying I predicted it. I'm sure I'm not the only one. A lot of people have been talking about it and trying to call attention to it. But people just want to hear good news, or they want to be distracted. So yes, I did feel like I was warning people.
What role do you think concerts should play in this political climate? Should they be two hours of escapism? Should they feel like rallies or protests?
I can't speak for other artists, I can only speak for myself. My role obviously is to entertain, but I'm not going to entertain without being provocative. I'm not going to entertain without sharing my point of view, without reflecting what's going on in the world. That just wouldn't be me.
There's a clip of you telling your dancers that doing this show was like going to war every night. What made this tour such a battle? Most reviews noted how much fun you seemed to be having on stage.
When I say war, it's just what you have to go through every night to do this show. It's physically a very demanding show. There's a lot of moving parts going on backstage and underneath the stage. Everyone has to be super organized and vigilant. There's no room for error. There are 30 seconds to change. You're passing people under the stage, there are lifts going up and down. There's a lot of dangerous stuff happening, and you have to fight through all of that and fight your fatigue or whatever personal issues you might be having that evening and get out there. It's showtime! No matter what's going on, you have to push through it and be a warrior. Sometimes you're playing in venues where there's no air, where people are smoking. There are always challenges. Couple that with your own personal issues — you don't feel well, you're sick, one of your dancers is injured. When you do live shows, you never know what can happen, so you do have to have that warrior-going-into-battle mentality. No matter what, you just keep going.
That's intense. How long does it take you to come down from that?
I need about 20 minutes to cool down and go to my dressing room or my hotel room. I do vocal cool-downs. I drink tea for my throat. And I have to wait 20 minutes for the ringing in my ears to go away. Then I come back down to earth. After that, I like to have dinner and socialize in a small way. On tour, it's too demanding — I can't go out and party or drink or be crazy. That's for everybody else. I'm the only one that doesn't have fun on tour. I don't want to be alone. Sometimes I get treatments: I get a massage or shiatsu or acupuncture. I watch films — things that get me out of my head and stop worrying. I tend to fixate on mistakes that were made or technical problems that happened. It takes me a couple of hours to unwind.
Rebel Heart, your 13th studio album, featured some of your most vulnerable material in years. Did it feel like you were baring your soul on stage at times with this tour?
I'm not really conscious of it. Sometimes I'm in the mood to share my inner feelings and I'm aware that I'm doing it and feel like it's the right time. And other times I feel like being more mysterious. I've been playing that balancing act for my entire career. A lot of the songs I write are meant to be ironic and not taken literally, and some are just straight-up, "Open my veins, this is who I am."
My favorite moments from this DVD are when you're performing with just a ukulele or a guitar. What's it going to take for fans to get a stripped-down, small-venues-only acoustic Madonna tour?
Well, I would probably use other instruments, not just a guitar. I'm definitely thinking about experimenting with other musical genres right now and working with musicians from around the world to create a show that continues to involve music and dance [but also] poetry and humor, something on the intimate level of Tears of a Clown [Madonna's experimental theater show, which is included in the Rebel Heart Tour DVD]. There would be still some small production with lights, but much simpler and in a much smaller venue. I really like doing that.
As you brainstorm a new kind of show, are you also thinking about recording new music and what's next on that front?
Yes, I'm doing it all!
Can you share anything about what direction you want to go in?
No! [Laughs] I don't want to give it away! I'm traveling the world right now and listening to lots of different music. I'm getting inspired by people and I'm just soaking things up right now. I feel like I've pushed the whole big-production arena tour to the max and done it the best that I could for such a long time. It's time for me to take a different approach and really get back down to the beauty and simplicity of music and lyrics and intimacy.
Was there anything you haven't been able to do in an arena show that you've wanted to try?
One thing I wanted but was always told was too expensive or too crazy or too dangerous was water. I always wanted water features, like rain or something. But [I was told], "If we're outside doing a stadium tour, it's too dangerous if there's wind. And what if the wind pushes the water into the audience and everyone gets wet? We're going to have insurance problems. And carrying water around with us is too complicated — too many trucks, too many airplanes, too expensive." Water was something I always wanted to use in my shows but never did. Beyoncé used it in her last show [the Formation World Tour], but I think she had a lot of problems with it too. It's good if you don't move, if you're stationary and everything is fixed. And if it's indoors, of course.
Most of your tours have been recorded or broadcast in some capacity. With your past few records, you've been putting out these live DVDs almost like clockwork. Why is it important for you to create this archive?
Tours are art. It's like documenting and archiving your artwork. It's a record of something I created with a lot of great and talented people: from the musicians I work with to the costumes that are designed, to the songs being arranged in new and different ways, to the political statements I might be making. They're stages of my career, and they tell a story. They're an important part of my legacy, so I'm documenting them. There are tours I haven't documented, and I regret that. I get a lot of s— from people: Why don't we have a DVD of this, why don't we have a DVD of that? I'm trying to be more vigilant and document things more than I actually would want to. To film shows is really complicated. It messes up the show. It takes days to film it completely. It takes me three to six months to edit it and mix it. It's a lot of work, but I think it's important.
When you watched the footage of this show, was there anything that stood out to you or surprised you that you didn't notice when you were in the thick of it?
Yeah, I didn't think some songs would be so moving or so fun to watch, like "True Blue." It's such a simple song. I'm playing the ukulele and just sitting there on stage, but I couldn't see the audience as closely as the camera did. Then [while watching the footage] I see all these couples together and people kissing and hugging — a real feeling of love and connection — and that really moved me. That was a pleasant surprise.
You worked with some notable fresh talent on Rebel Heart, like rising hitmaker MNEK and a pre-Coloring Book Chance the Rapper. Who has your ear right now?
Well, as you know I moved to Lisbon, and I've been listening to a lot of music here, like fado, which is the music of Portugal. There's such a cultural mix of people and music here. You could go out every night and hear different kinds of music. There's a great jazz scene here. So right now I'm listening to a lot of local artists I've never heard of before, and that's been really inspiring.
CBS correspondent Tracy Smith traveled to Blantyre, Malawi, where Madonna has opened a state-of-the-art pediatric care facility - the first-ever of its kind in the desperately poor country's history. In a wide-ranging interview, the singer talked about her charity, Raising Malawi; her life with her six children, including four adoptees from Malawi; and how motherhood has been a healing experience for her.
Twenty-seven years ago, Madonna set the template for modern pop concerts with her Blond Ambition world tour.
From its hydraulic stage to Jean-Paul Gaultier's iconic costumes, it raised the bar for stadium-sized spectacle.
Now, after seven huge world tours, the star tells the BBC she's "exploring" a smaller-scale show in the future.
"I've done so many shows - world tours, stadiums, sports arenas, you name it - that I feel like I have to reinvent that now too," she explains.
"I like doing intimate shows and being able to talk directly to the audience.
"This is something I'm exploring right now: the idea of doing a show that doesn't travel the world, but stays in one place and utilises not only humour and the music in a more intimate setting but other people's music, as well, and other entertainment.
"Kind of a revolving door of amazing, gifted, unique talent - dancers, musicians, singers, comedians, me, humour. I don't know! Like, I'm trying to come up with all those ideas now."
The concerts will presumably owe much to the vaudeville-style Tears of a Clown show that Madonna performed twice in 2016 - once as a gift to fans in Australia, and again at a fundraiser for her Raising Malawi charity.
The low-key gigs featured the pop icon dressed as a clown, riding a tricycle, chatting to the audience and telling jokes when not performing stripped-back renditions of some of her favourite songs.
Footage of the Australian concert appears on the star's new DVD, released on Friday, which documents her 2015-16 Rebel Heart Tour.
In an exclusive interview with BBC News, she talked about touring life, changing attitudes to sex, and her recent dispute with a courier company...
Before we start, there's one thing I need to know: Did your FedEx package ever arrive?
Ha ha! Yes, it has. FedEx is blaming customs, customs is blaming FedEx and we'll never know what happened. But I have it now.
So, I saw the Rebel Heart tour when you were in London and the DVD does a really good job of capturing what it was like to be in the audience. How do you go about that?
I was there every step of the way, every day for months and months. It's really hard to capture the true feeling of the excitement and the passion and the heat and the blood, sweat and tears. I'm pleased with the way it came out.
There's a particularly touching sequence during True Blue, where everybody in the audience embraces each other.
I know, it's a very sweet, emotional moment in the show. I didn't expect it to be, but when I look back at the DVD it almost brings a tear to my eye because everyone seems so in love.
How do you put a show like this together? Where do you get the ideas?
Everything's based around my song choice. So first, I go through my catalogue of songs with my band and I start working on things that excite me and inspire me in the moment. Some songs I'm sick of doing and I don't want to do them. Other songs I say, "No, I did that on the last tour, I don't want to do it again."
So I try to rotate things and I also try to reflect my current mood and what I've been feeling, and what's been inspiring me artistically or filmically, politically, philosophically. I try to put songs together in groups that have thematic connection, and then I try to tell a story. And then I do the visuals. It's quite a process.
What are the songs you don't want to do again?
Well, I tend to not want to do the songs I did on the tour before. That's what I mean. So if I did Material Girl on the tour before, or Express Yourself on the tour before, then I'll say, "OK, I did that for 88 shows. I can't do it again."
How do you keep a healthy balance between new songs and your back catalogue?
It's just playing in rehearsal. It's really hard for me, especially with my older songs, to do them with the original arrangement. Because 33 years later, after doing it for so long, you just have to reinvent things. Well, I do.
And it's fun for me to take an '80s pop song and turn it into a salsa song, or turn it into a samba, or make an uptempo song into a ballad.
The overarching theme of the tour was being a rebel. In the intro you say, "when fascist dictators come for you dressed as righteous men" you have to rise up and take a stand.
If you were doing the tour against the current political backdrop, would that message feel more relevant?
Yeah, I created that voiceover for my short film Secret Project. I feel like it was a foreshadowing of things to come, like a prophecy.
You felt something in the air?
I did then - and I think people all thought I was being a little bit dramatic and extreme, but I felt like I was witnessing the beginning of it on the tour previous [to Rebel Heart]. And, of course, look what's happening in the world right now. It's pretty crazy.
Twenty-seven years ago, the Pope tried to get one of your shows banned. Now you have pole-dancing nuns and nobody bats an eyelid. Is that progress?
Is it progress? Well, I guess in some ways you could call that progress. When I released my Sex book, the idea of someone being scantily-clad on the street was an outrage. But look at social media today and it's nothing.
People get used to things, but I wouldn't call that progress. What I think of as progress is people becoming more open-minded, and people understanding the difference between art and exploitation.
When I was banned by the Pope, I was playing with the ideas of religion and sexuality, which are usually kept completely apart. Sex is considered a sin in the Catholic church. And I was questioning that and challenging that point of view because I don't, obviously, agree with it.
So now that no one's batting an eyelash about nuns on the stripper poles, it doesn't mean that the Vatican or the Catholic church is soul-searching or investigating whether they made the right choices. I don't think people are thinking that maybe sexuality and God don't need to be separate. That, to me, would be progress.
The DVD also includes the Tears of a Clown show you did in Melbourne. Was that a one-off or a trial run for a different type of Madonna concert?
I like doing intimate shows and being able to talk directly to the audience; to play with them and use humour and pathos and truth, and share my life - and also make up stories. I like the freedom of it and I like the intimacy of it, and I would like to explore doing it more in the future.
Maybe a residency?
Yeah, a residency. If I look back at the Rebel Heart tour, my favourite [part] was really the last section where I got to just sit on the stage and play my ukulele and sing La Vie en Rose and talk to the audience. [It was] just more intimate. More audience participation and connecting to human beings - I feel I'm craving that more and more.
Did it feel like there was more room for improvisation in that section?
Yeah, I have freedom and I can make mistakes. That's another thing I do in Tears of a Clown - if I start a song off wrong and I make a boo-boo, I just turn around and go "Stop! Let's start again!"
When you're doing a sports arena show, you're linked up to video, you can't stop. Once the train leaves the station, you have to keep going.
There's a certain kind of adrenalin rush to that - but there's no room for error. So I like the idea of mistakes and freestyling. Free-falling, really. It's more exciting to me right now.
Madonna was not on hand for onetime collaborator Patrick Leonard's solo debut Tuesday night (Sep. 12), but Joe's Pub in New York vibrated with her spirit as he revisited and reimagined 13 of their best co-creations in an instrumental show that attracted fans from across the country — and at least one all the way from Japan.
Leonard, 61, the accomplished songsmith most recently known for his work with the late Leonard Cohen, co-wrote and co-produced songs with Madonna for over 20 years, including some potent hits she presents on tour to this day ("Like a Prayer," "La Isla Bonita," etc). Even so, he told the audience he didn't realize there was a demand for him to perform the classic tunes until he joined Instagram.
When Leonard began sharing snippets of recently unearthed demos, including the unreleased "Angels with Dirty Faces," he saw the rabid reaction and asked mega-fan John D. Lee to arrange the sold-out NYC gig as a way to embrace his legacy of work with Madonna.
Except for the set's openers, "Live to Tell" and "La Isla Bonita," which he played on Madonna's 1987 Who's That Girl World Tour, Leonard said, "I have never played these songs for people… The day we recorded it was the last time I played it."
With Leonard on keyboards and modular synthesizer, Madonna vet Bruce Gaitsch, co-writer of "La Isla Bonita," on guitar; and Doug Yowell on drums, "An Evening with Patrick Leonard" boasted a nostalgic set list, but Leonard seemed determined to find new melodies in the old tunes, presenting them in sometimes radically revamped arrangements.
Here are some highlights from Patrick Leonard's Joe's Pub performance:
Leonard kicked things off with "Live to Tell," a No. 1 smash for Madonna on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1986, and the lead single from her multi-platinum True Blue album. The spacy rendition twinkled, sounding like a distant cousin to "Borderline." It meandered in the way the single did, albeit far less ominously, which Leonard has noted elsewhere displeased Madonna's then-label, Warner Bros., who feared radio stations would not warm up to a six-minute opus that stopped… and started… and stopped.
Jessie's in the House
"Dear Jessie," a Beatles-esque album track from Like a Prayer (1989) that was a top 10 hit in Europe, received a faithful rendition and came with an introduction. The Jessie of the title, Leonard's daughter Jessica Leonard, now a screenwriter, was in the crowd, as was her brother Jordan Leonard, a visual mapper. (Leonard's other son, musician Sean Leonard, was not in attendance.) Jessica was mobbed by autograph-seekers after the show, a surreal scene to rival that of the song's trippy vision of "pink elephants and lemonade."
When, according to Leonard, he and Madonna were asked to craft an album's worth of songs "inspired by" Madonna's film Dick Tracy (1990), they had to turn in '30s-style numbers that would work alongside the three that legendary composer Stephen Sondheim had already provided for the movie, including future Oscar winner "Sooner or Later." To the surprise of many, Madonna was right at home in Tin Pan Alley. One of the songs she wrote with Leonard, the vampy "He's a Man," was given a sensual strut Tuesday night that underscored its lost potential as a single. Lacking the dialogue from the movie that punctuates the original song, Leonard wickedly inserted a campy exchange between screen queens Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland from 1964's Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte that ended with Davis shrieking, "You're a vile, sorry little bitch!" ("Bitch I'm Charlotte"?).
Only two singles were released from I'm Breathless: Music From and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy — the No. 1 Hot 100 hit "Vogue" that Madonna wrote with Shep Pettibone and the Leonard co-creation "Hanky Panky," an ode to erotic spanking that hit No. 10 back in 1990 but failed to make the cut at Joe's Pub in 2017.
Another Leonard work from I'm Breathless, the achingly regretful love song "Something to Remember" — which would later be included on Madonna's 1995 ballads collection of the same title — found its way onto Leonard's solo set list, eliciting cheers of approval in the room.
Receiving positive feedback from the crowd, Leonard warmly noted, "You're like children I forgot I had… children that pay."
Tidbits on Madonna the Musician
Leonard spoke between songs, providing a glimpse of what it was like to record with Madonna. A defender of her talent, Leonard recalled, "What would happen is I would go to the studio in the morning and write something and then she'd come in the afternoon and we'd put the song down. Many times it was the vocal that she sang that day that was [on] the [final] record… She's a bad-ass — make no mistake."
Incredibly, "Oh Father," one of Madonna's most complex songs (it hit No. 20 on the Hot 100 in 1989, ending her string of 16 consecutive top 5 and 17 consecutive top 10 singles), was apparently a speedy production. "When we did that song," Leonard said after performing it, "when we got to mix, the record button had only been pushed twice — once to record the band and her vocal and once to record the orchestra." He smiled while remembering a fight he had with Madonna when she wanted to double her vocal on the choruses, which would mean they'd have to push record a third time. When a fan called out to ask who won that battle, Leonard laughed. "What do you mean, 'Who won?' Whose picture is on the album cover?"
Father of Re-Invention
Telling the crowd he hoped not to "piss anyone off" by tinkering with cherished classics, Leonard took a risk on the Who's That Girl soundtrack (1987) number "The Look of Love," giving it a Kraftwerk-style intro via the modular synth and bleeding from that into 1998's "Skin" from Ray of Light. Fans concurred at an informal meet-and-greet after the show that "Skin" had been a hard-driving, foot-stomping highlight. Leonard had five writing credits on Ray of Light-era tunes. Along with "Skin," he gave fans a radically dissonant "Frozen," whose familiar melody was nearly consumed by a sampled undercurrent.
For his final number, Leonard offered "Like a Prayer," arguably his most famous and enduring hit with Madonna. The version was nostalgic and true blue to the single, which hit No. 1 in 1989, so much so that the room sang the entire song to him, including the gospel ad-libs.
The assembled Madonna devotees gave Leonard a standing ovation, suggesting that even without his voice, he had taken them there.
Afterward, Lee promised this was the first of "many, many" more Leonard solo gigs, the next of which is expected to take place in Los Angeles in the near future.
"Live to Tell"
"La Isla Bonita"
"He's a Man"
"Something to Remember"
"Promise to Try"
"The Look of Love"
"Love Makes the World Go Round"
"Like a Prayer"
Forget about "Open Your Heart" -- get ready to open your wallet, because Madonna slot machines are coming your way.
The Madonna-branded Slot Game will make its debut at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this October. Each machine will feature its own unique game play, inspired by Madonna's biggest hits from various stages of her career. The hits themselves, of course, will also be incorporated into the machines. No word whether Madonna's 1985 single "Gambler" will be one of those hits, but we have a hunch "Material Girl" may be prominently featured.
In a statement, an executive at Aristocrat Technologies gaming company, which has licensed Madonna's brand for the machines, says, "We have been diligently working for months to create a slot game that perfectly encapsulates the essence of the Madonna brand."
The exec promises that the games are "fueled by [Madonna's] landmark and groundbreaking music, coupled with video and exciting game play."
In other Madonna news, she's featured in InStyle magazine discussing her new beauty line, MDNA Skin. She also reveals some of her favorite things, including the smell of roses, as well as avocados, which she says she's "obsessed with." She also gushes about something called "sunset glasses," which have red lenses.
"I have a hard time sleeping. These help me relax and experience that joy you feel when you're watching a sunset," she explains. "I just use them all the time. My days are really busy and I'm always overstimulated. Dopamine is being fired into my brain way past the time that it should be, so these glasses help me relax."
Maybe Madonna will need to wear her sunset glasses when she walks into a casino to check out her new slot machine.
Madonna has confirmed that she will make an appearance on CBS Sunday Morning this coming Sunday, September 17. She will be interviewed by Tracy Smith. Among the topics will be Madonna's Malawi project, where she opened a pediatric unit, and her family.
A short preview was aired earlier this week.
Lady Gaga's upcoming Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, opens with a stunning shot of her suspended in the air for the entrance of her Super Bowl LI halftime show. From there, the film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, September 8, trails the pop star in the emotional year leading up to the release of her most recent album, Joanne.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film comes when Gaga addresses her feud with fellow pop star Madonna. "She wouldn't look me in the eye and tell me that I was reductive," the "Poker Face" singer says, adding that she learned of the Queen of Pop's 2012 diss against her while watching TV. "Telling me you think I'm a piece of s--t through the media? It's like a guy passing me a note through his friend."
Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) then explains that Madonna, 59, was her idol "as an Italian who grew up in New York." She says the "Vogue" songstress has since apologized to her, but admits she's not sure if she can ever trust her again.
LOCATION: Sintra, Portugal
ASKING PRICE: €7,500,000 ($8,927,470)
SIZE: 16,146 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms plus guesthouse and caretaker's cottage
Madonna announced over Labor Day weekend, via her selfie-heavy Instagram account, that she'd done packed up, picked up and moved to Portugal where word on the Iberian Peninsula celebrity real estate street is the 59-year-old Material Girl purchased the historic Quinta do Relógio estate in the picturesque hilltop village of Sintra. The asking price for the property was €7,500,000, an amount that converts to $8,927,470 at today's rates.
About 20 miles outside of Lisbon, the approximately 5.5-acre estate is anchored by a grandiose 18th-century Moorish Revival-style mini-palace of more than 16,000-square-feet designed and built in 1865 by architect by Antonio Manuel da Fonseca. The colossal, quirky and elaborately embellished four-story residence, with four bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, is not currently habitable but, according to listing details, has had substantial structural work, including the addition of steel supports and shoring up of the 150-year old stone foundations.
It will take a few years and no-doubt many millions of dollars to properly renovate, restore and update the main residence, where in the late 1800s the then future king of Portugal, D. Carlos de Bragança, and his bride, Maria Amélia, spent part of their honeymoon. However, the still bawdy, brash and gleefully rebellious international pop star can settle into the property right away if she so chooses since the estate additionally includes a secondary residence of around 4,700-square-feet that was extensively and luxuriously refurbished by Portuguese architect Thiago Bradell. There's also an approximately 1,110-square-foot caretaker's cottage. The estate's gardens were designed in a "romantic style" according to marketing materials with a small lake, several springs and fountains, and lush vegetation that includes rare specimen trees such as centenary oaks, cedars and palms.
Madonna, still churning out high-octane pop ditties and with a net worth estimated by the bean counters at Forbes to be in the impressive vicinity of $580 million, has long made her primary home in New York City. She previously owned an Art Deco inspired 6,000-square-foot combination apartment at the Harperley Hall building on the Upper West Side that she sold in 2013 for $16 million to a hedge fund fat cat — it was featured in Architectural Digest in 1991 — but she continues to own an additional unit on the building's seventh floor she scooped up in 2008 for $7 million. Last year she filed a lawsuit against the building's board over a rules change that had the effect of not allowing her children, employees or friends to reside in the seventh floor apartment when she wasn't there.
Madge, who has one university-aged daughter and three school-aged children, decamped the Upper West Side for the Upper East Side sometime after 2009 when she coughed up $32 million for a nearly 12,000-square-foot triple-wide townhouse that has since undergone significant renovations. She also maintains a 50-plus-acre equestrian estate in Bridgehampton, NY, acquired in early 2010 in two separate but contiguous transactions that property records show totaled $7.2 million. The equine-oriented spread, part of which was purchased from Calvin Klein's ex-wife Kelly Klein, includes a horse barn and a two-story residence custom built by Madonna and reported to include six principal bedrooms plus two staff rooms along with front and rear porches, a detached three car garage and a heated swimming pool and spa.
Madonna may be the highest-selling female artist of all time, but at home she's just Mom — or "Mambo," as the four youngest of her six kids call her.
For this week's issue, the pop icon, 59, offered a rare glimpse inside her private world, inviting PEOPLE to join her in Malawi on July 11, when she opened the Mercy James Centre for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, the nation's first children's hospital. A month later, at her home in London, she opened up about her emotional adoption journey, why she's dedicated to helping the children of Malawi — and her busy, rewarding life as mom to Lourdes, 20, Rocco, 17, David, 11, Mercy, 11, and 5-year-old twins Estere and Stella.
Malawi — a beautiful but struggling country in southeast Africa — has become a "second home" for Madonna in recent years. After first visiting in 2006, she founded Raising Malawi, a nonprofit that aims to educate and support health services for countless orphans and children in the country. It's also where she met four kids who would change her life forever.
Already mom to Lourdes (with former flame Carlos Leon) and Rocco (with ex-husband Guy Ritchie), the singer first saw son David Banda at Home of Hope, an orphanage in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital city. He was a baby battling pneumonia and malaria at the time, and feeling an instant connection, she began the adoption process.
But when she brought him home to London in 2008, the reception wasn't anything she'd imagined. "Every newspaper said I kidnapped him," Madonna says. "In my mind, I was thinking, 'Wait a minute. I'm trying to save somebody's life. Why are you all s—-ing on me right now?' I did everything by the book. That was a real low point for me. I would cry myself to sleep."
Madonna met Mercy James around the same time as David, and adopting her was even more difficult. Because she had recently divorced Ritchie, Malawian officials told her "I was not capable of raising a child," she says. "Theway I was treated — that sexist behavior — was ridiculous," adds Madonna, who successfully challenged the refusal in Malawi's Supreme Court and brought home Mercy in 2009.
"I've had some pretty dark moments," she says, "but I'm a survivor."
In February, the star brought home Estere and Stella, orphaned twins whom she met at Home of Hope 2½ years ago. Last summer, she again began the adoption process, which she says was just as rigorous: "Because I'm a public figure, people don't want to be perceived as giving me any kind of special treatment, so I get the hard road."
Adds the proud mom: "It's complicated, but it's so worth it."
After seven months, Estere and Stella are acclimated. "It's like they've always been here," says Madonna of the precocious pair, who have become the stars of her latest Instagram posts.
Moana and Sing play on loop at her home, but when "Holiday" came on during dinner and David told the twins it was one of Mambo's hits, "they were like, 'Huh?'" Madonna says.
Of the fact that their mom is the Queen of Pop: "They don't have a clue," she says, "and that's a good thing. I'm just their mother."
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Swedish DJ and producer Avicii briefly discussed his collaboration with Madonna.
You worked on Madonna's Rebel Heart album a couple of years ago. Have you stayed in touch with her?
Not really. I'd love to work with her again, but that was right when I was busiest, and I think she might have been disappointed in me for not being able to put in as much time as she wanted. A lot of things start suffering when you don't have the energy or time to do things properly. You think you can get away with it, but the quality suffers.
With the highly anticipated release of the Rebel Heart Tour coming up next week, Mad-Eyes meets with Josh Brandão, photographer and Madonna fan, who snapped the gorgeous photo selected as the cover of the release.
Josh Brandão is a Brazilian-British Fashion Photographer and Film maker based in London. He travels all over the world creating magazine editorials, fashion campaigns and teaching photography. His work with fashion films has earned several awards in prestigious film festivals internationally and he had photographic work exhibited in New York and London. On top of being a very accomplished professional, he is also a massive Madonna fan and just had the honour to photograph the beautiful cover for the Rebel Heart Tour DVD, Blu-ray and CD.
Mad-Eyes webmaster Bart has been a long-time friend of Josh and sat down for a coffee with him to find out the story behind this amazing photo.
Mad-Eyes: First of all, congratulations for getting your gorgeous picture selected for this release. How do you feel?
Josh Brandão: Thank you so much! I have to admit this hasn't sunken in completely yet. This is such a dream come true to me that at the moment it feels a lot like a dream still.
M-E: The picture is from the Unapologetic Bitch performance. Where and when did you take it?
JB: It was taken in Prague on the first of the two shows of the Rebel Heart Tour on November 7th, 2015. I also photographed Madonna during the shows in Barcelona and Paris.
M-E: Can you tell us a bit how you got this picture to Madonna? I imagine it was quite a long process?
JB: This was a really long process indeed. About 8 years long to be more precise. I've been taking photos during her concerts since the Sticky and Sweet Tour but things started to get more serious during the MDNA Tour. Obtaining permission to photograph her is extremely difficult, especially when you're not a press member or you're outside of her pool of official photographers. By the time of the MDNA Tour I had already made some contacts within her team after photographing a few shows and one of them showed Madonna my photos. I then received a message from Madonna via her management, thanking me for the photos and saying she loved them. They wanted to use my images for the release of the MDNA Tour DVD but for some reason it just didn't happen.
When the Rebel Heart Tour started, I followed the same process but this time, after receiving my photos, Madonna started using some of them on her Instagram account while she was still on tour. She was really great about it and added my name and tag on the description of the photos when posting them.
All the photos were completely unpublished and unseen by the public until Madonna made use of them first. Some people think I was only a fan and that Madonna came across my photos on social media but the truth is that my images were taken exclusively for Madonna, they were all delivered to her first and that she decided what to post and use before me or anyone else. This took years of hard work and patience.
M-E: There was some confusion about which picture would get chosen for the actual cover. When did you know your photo was ultimately selected?
JB: Last year, they decided to use the Unapologetic Bitch photo to promote the show broadcast on Showtime. According to her team, Madonna really loved my photos and I imagined they would probably use some more to promote the release of the tour on DVD. But since she had already used that particular image a couple of times I thought they'd want something completely new for the cover and not necessarily mine.
In May this year, a supposed cover for the DVD started circulating on the internet although nothing ever came from any official Madonna platforms. Suddenly I was bombarded with messages from her fans asking me to let her use the UB photo for the cover because they loved it. There was even a campaign from Brazilian fansite MadonnaOnline making a petition for the photo to be the cover. I was very flattered but embarrassed too! (Laughs)
I contacted M's team and although at that point they did not confirm whether or not my images were going to be used on the DVD, they assured me that no matter what was being said on the internet, if it wasn't coming from them or Madonna herself, then it wasn't official.
On June 20, I found out the image was chosen for the cover just as everyone else when I received the newsletter from Madonna.com. I honestly could not believe it and thought it was still only promotion on her website. Later that day I was contacted by Madonna's team to congratulate me and confirm that it was indeed going to be the cover for the DVD, Blu-Ray and Live CD.
I know for a fact that the image was chosen by Madonna herself but it's really nice to know that the fans also love it and seem to be quite unanimously happy with it.
M-E: You've send her more than just this picture. Was this your favourite too, or were there other contenders?
JB: In my opinion, there were 3 photos amongst all of my images that Madonna received that were "cover" material. All of them were from the Unapologetic Bitch performance in Prague but very different from each other. One had Madonna displaying her gorgeous smile, which to me translates how much fun she seemed to be having on this tour. The second had Madonna in a very sexy pose, with her hair covering half her face, almost combining the live show with a fashion photoshoot. Then the one chosen for the cover which has always been my absolute favourite, showing her with a very fierce facial expression, very much in the moment of the performance. To me, that shot represents perfectly Madonna's strength, beauty and vitality on stage. It's a strong testament to her power, her longevity and rebellious spirit.
Besides that, it's curious how that moment was extremely difficult for me to photograph. I had already seen two shows of the Rebel Heart Tour prior to Prague, in order to study the best moments and angles to shoot. People who've seen the show know that particular moment in Unapologetic Bitch happens very fast and she moves very rapidly. On top of that, I had technical issues with my equipment earlier in the show and I cut my hand while fixing it. With all the adrenaline and stress of the situation, it wasn't until the end of the show when I realised that I had taken the photos with my hands covered in blood.
It wasn't even a big deal to me at the time but now I think this gives an extra personal symbolism to me and the cover photo.
M-E: It took you literally blood, sweat and tears then!
JB: Pretty much, yes! (laughs)
M-E: Will any of the other photos see the light of day?
JB: Some more images were included in official press kits and are already circulating on the internet. And now that the official launch has happened and I don't see why the other images will remain unseen. I'm happy to share here two outtakes exclusively with Mad-Eyes.
M-E: Let's dream a bit: imagine she calls you tomorrow to do a photoshoot together. How would you like that to go? Already have some ideas for that?
JB: I've been a Madonna fan since I was 6 years old. To me she has always been much more than a pop star. She was a mentor, a friend, a huge source of inspiration and she still is. But I guess that's the case with most of her fans.
I remember first imagining myself photographing her when I was a teenager, watching her tours and videos on TV. I grew up and became an artist and a photographer. Years later, photographing Madonna, having my photos reach her hands first, having my photos used officially by her and chosen by her for the cover of her Tour Film and CD is definitely one my biggest accomplishments so far, personally and professionally. I believe this happened because I listened to all the lessons Madonna taught me growing up and I did not give up until I achieved it. No matter how many setbacks I had getting there. I always believed this would happen and I also had really good friends around me who believed in my dream and helped me achieve it.
And I still have many dreams and ideas that involve creating with Madonna but, as usual, I will have to share my ideas with her first (laughs).
I really believe anything I want can happen if I continue to work towards it and I won't give up no matter how long it takes. It's that kind of thing that you want so much that it can't not happen. Madonna taught us that.
Apparently, world-famous celebrities aren't free of the everyday nuisances that plague us normal folks. For example, even Madonna can't get her mail on time.
On Tuesday, the singer shared a disgruntled pic of herself and admonished the delivery service for failing to believe her identity and release a package to her. "When you've been arguing with fed-ex all week that you really are Madonna and they still won't release your package," she captioned the picture, adding the hashtag "#bitchplease".
Fans were quick to respond and back up the star's claim, and it didn't take long for a FedEx employee to see the tweet and respond to the queen of pop asking her to DM her private details.
Hi, this is Julie. I would like to help. Please DM your delivery address, tracking & phone numbers. https://t.co/7vnSkvqx3r— FedEx Help (@FedExHelp) September 5, 2017
Earlier this week, Madonna revealed on Instagram that she had recently moved to Portugal and started making new music. "The energy of Portugal is so inspiring," she wrote. "I feel very creative and alive here and I look forward to working on my film LOVED and making New Music!!!" She had previously spoken about her upcoming film project Loved in a Harper's Bazaar interview in January. The movie will be the star's fourth directorial project.
Here's hoping Julie from FedEx gets her package to Madonna STAT.
In a new post on her Instagram today, Madonna confirms her move to Portugal and says she feels inspired to make her movie Loved, as well as new music.
She mysteriously adds that "It's time to conquer the world from a different vantage point."
Singer buys house near Portuguese capital after David Banda, 11, who she adopted from Malawi, joins the football team.
Madonna has reportedly moved to Lisbon after her 11-year-old son David Banda joined the Benfica football team youth academy.
The Portuguese weekly magazine Visão reported: "Madonna is no longer a tourist, she now lives in Lisbon." It republished several pictures from Madonna's Instagram account that show her visiting Portugal over the past couple of months.
The singer has been staying in a Lisbon hotel after buying a house in the resort of Sintra, 17 miles (27km) north-east of the Portuguese capital.
The 19th-century building was put up for sale for €7.5m (£7m) and could take about six months to renovate, according to Visão.
David Banda, who Madonna adopted from Malawi in 2006, has joined the Benfica training centre in Seixal, Correio da Manhã reported.
The club accepted David Banda after his first test in the spring. He will stay at the academy until starting at a French high school in Lisbon, the newspaper reported, quoting a source close to Benfica.
Rumours about a possible move began when Madonna was spotted at the school in May. She joins celebrities including John Malkovich, Monica Bellucci and Michael Fassbender in owning a home in Lisbon.
The city has enjoyed a cultural renaissance in recent years and is regarded by many as hip, cheap and innovative.
David Banda is one of four children that Madonna, 59, has adopted from Malawi. She adopted twin four-year-old girls from the country in February and accepted undisclosed damages from Associated Newspapers last month over an article published by Mail Online.
The article revealed the twin girls' names, race, age and the fact that they lived in an orphanage in Malawi, and were the subject of pending applications for adoption by Madonna. Her solicitor said the singer would donate the damages to the Mercy James Institute for Paediatric Surgery in Malawi.↑ Back to top of page