Cyndi Lauper

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"Lauper" redirects here. For the curler, see Erwin Lauper.
Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi australia 2011 2.png
Cyndi Lauper performing in Australia, 2011, during the Memphis Blues Tour
Born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper
(1953-06-22) June 22, 1953 (age 62)
Astoria, Queens, New York City, U.S.
Occupation Singer, songwriter, actress, activist
Years active 1980–present
Spouse(s) David Thornton (m. 1991)
Children 1
Musical career
Genres Pop, rock, new wave, synthpop, blues, soul
Instruments Vocals, guitar, dulcimer
Labels Portrait, Epic, Daylight, Downtown
Associated acts Blue Angel, The Hooters

Cynthia Ann Stephanie "Cyndi" Lauper (born June 22, 1953)[1] is an American singer, songwriter, actress and LGBT activist.[2][3] Her career has spanned over 30 years.[3] Her debut solo album She's So Unusual (1983) was the first debut female album to chart four top-five hits on the Billboard Hot 100—"Girls Just Want to Have Fun", "Time After Time", "She Bop", and "All Through the Night" earned Lauper the Best New Artist award at the 27th Grammy Awards in 1985. Her success continued with the soundtrack for the motion picture The Goonies and her second record True Colors (1986). This album included the number one hit of the same name and "Change of Heart" which peaked at number 3.

Since 1989, Lauper has released nine studio albums and participated in many other projects. Her most recent album, Memphis Blues, became Billboard's most successful blues album of the year, remaining at #1 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart for 13 consecutive weeks. In 2013, Lauper won the Tony Award for Best Original Score for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, making her the first woman in history to win the composing category by herself.[4] She became the first artist in over 25 years to top the dance charts with a Broadway tune. In 2014, Lauper was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for the cast recording.

Lauper has established herself as a pop icon[5] winning awards at the Grammy, Emmy, Tony, New York's Outer Critics Circle, MTV VMA, Billboard, and AMA awards.[6] Lauper won the inaugural Best Female Video prize at the 1984 VMAs for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. This music video is recognized by MTV, VH1 and Rolling Stone as one of the greatest ever music videos.[7][8][9][10] She is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum's Women Who Rock exhibit.[11] Her debut album is included in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[12] while Time After Time is included in Vh1's list of the 100 Best Songs of the Past 25 years.[13] VH1 has ranked Lauper No. 58 of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll.[14]

Lauper is one of only twenty artists to achieve "GET" status by winning competitive Grammy, Emmy, and Tony awards. Lauper is also noted for appearing in the first-ever WWE WrestleMania, managing wrestler Wendi Richter who won the WWF Women's Championship in 1985.[15] In 2015 Lauper was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[16] To date she has sold over 50 million records and 20 million singles.[17][18]

Lauper has also been celebrated for her humanitarian work, particularly as an advocate for gay and transgender rights in the United States. Her charitable efforts were acknowledged in 2013 when the singer was invited as a special guest to attend President Barack Obama's second-term inaugural.[19]

Life and career[edit]

1953–1979: Early life[edit]

Lauper was born at Boulevard Hospital in Astoria, Queens, New York City [20] to a Catholic family. Her father, Fred, was of German and Swiss descent. Her mother, Catrine (née Gallo), is Italian American (from Sicily). Lauper's siblings are younger brother Fred (nicknamed Butch), and older sister, Ellen.[21] Lauper's parents divorced when she was five[3] and her mother remarried and divorced again.[22]

Lauper grew up in the Ozone Park[23] neighborhood of Queens and as a child, listened to such artists as The Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Billie Holiday. At age 12, she began writing songs and playing an acoustic guitar given to her by her sister.[24]

Lauper expressed herself with a variety of hair colors, eccentric clothing[25] and even took a friend's advice to spell her name as "Cyndi" rather than "Cindy".[23]

Lauper went to Richmond Hill High School, but was expelled;[26] she later earned her GED.[27][28] She left home at 17, to escape her abusive stepfather,[23] intending to study art. Her journey took her to Canada, where she spent two weeks in the woods with her dog Sparkle, trying to find herself. She eventually traveled to Vermont, where she took art classes at Johnson State College and supported herself working odd jobs.[28]

In the early 1970s, Lauper performed as a vocalist with various cover bands. One was called Flyer in the New York metropolitan area, singing hits by bands including Bad Company, Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin. Although Lauper was performing on stage, she was not happy singing covers. In 1977, Lauper damaged her vocal cords and took a year off from singing. She was told by doctors that she would never sing again, but regained her voice with the help of vocal coach Katie Agresta.[29]

1980–1982: Blue Angel[edit]

Main article: Blue Angel

In 1978, Lauper met saxophone player John Turi through her manager Ted Rosenblatt. Turi and Lauper formed a band named Blue Angel and recorded a demo tape of original music. Steve Massarsky, manager of The Allman Brothers Band,[30] heard the tape and liked Lauper's voice. He bought Blue Angel's contract for $5,000 and became their manager.[31]

Lauper received recording offers as a solo artist, but held out, wanting the band to be included in any deal she made. Blue Angel was eventually signed by Polydor Records and released a self-titled album on the label in 1980. Lauper hated the album cover, saying that it made her look like Big Bird, but Rolling Stone magazine later included it as one of the 100 best new wave album covers (2003). Despite critical acclaim, the album sold poorly (or " It went lead", as Lauper later joked.) and the band broke up. The members of Blue Angel had a falling out with Massarsky and fired him as their manager. He later filed an $80,000 suit against them, which forced Lauper into bankruptcy.[32] After this Lauper temporarily lost her voice due to an inverted cyst in her vocal cord.[33]

After Blue Angel broke up and due to her financial problems, Lauper spent time working in retail stores, waitressing at IHOP (which she quit after being demoted to hostess when the manager made a pass at her),[23] and singing in local clubs. Her most frequent gigs were at El Sombrero.[33] Music critics who saw Lauper perform with Blue Angel believed she had star potential due to her four-octave singing range,[34] In 1981, while singing in a local New York bar, Lauper met David Wolff, who took over as her manager and had her sign a recording contract with Portrait Records, a subsidiary of Epic Records.[35]

1983–1985: She's So Unusual[edit]

Main article: She's So Unusual

On October 14, 1983, Lauper released her first solo album, She's So Unusual. The album peaked at No. 4 in the US, and became a worldwide hit. The primary studio musicians were Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman (of The Hooters), Rick Chertoff, Richard Termini and Peter Wood. Lauper became popular with teenagers and critics, in part due to her hybrid punk image which was crafted by stylist Patrick Lucas.[36]

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Lauper was interested in writing her own songs, but the record company provided her with songs to record that were written by other writers. Lauper sometimes changed the lyrics in the material she was given by the record company; such is the case with "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". Lauper found the original lyrics to be misogynistic, so she rewrote the song as an anthem for young women.[37]

The album's second single "Time After Time" was co-written by Lauper and Rob Hyman. "Time After Time" hit No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. The song would earn Lauper an RIAA Gold certification for record sales that reached 500,000 copies.

The other Billboard Hot 100 singles on She's So Unusual were "She Bop" (No. 3), "All Through the Night" (No. 5), written by Jules Shear and "Money Changes Everything" (No.27).[38]

The album also includes two cover songs, The Brains' new wave track "Money Changes Everything" (No.27 on the Billboard Hot 100) and Prince's "When You Were Mine". The album made Lauper the first female to have four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 top five hits from one album. The LP stayed in the Top 200 charts for more than 65 weeks, and since has sold 22 million copies worldwide.[39]

Lauper won Best New Artist at the 1985 Grammy Awards. She's So Unusual also received nominations for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"), and Song of the Year (for "Time After Time"). It also won the Grammy for Best Album Package, which went to the art director, Janet Perr.[citation needed]

The video for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" won the inaugural award for Best Female Video at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards, and made Lauper an MTV staple. The video featured professional wrestling manager "Captain" Lou Albano as Lauper's father, her real-life mother, Catrine, as her mother,[40] and also featured her attorney, her manager, her brother Butch, and her dog Sparkle.[citation needed] In 1984–85, Lauper appeared on the covers of Rolling Stone magazine, Time, and Newsweek. She appeared twice on the cover of People, and was named a Ms. magazine woman of the year in 1985.[41]

In 1985, Lauper participated in USA for Africa's famine-relief fund-raising single "We Are the World", which sold more than 20 million copies since then.[42]

Lauper appeared with professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, who played her "bodyguard"[43][44] and would also later make many appearances as herself in a number of the World Wrestling Federation's "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection" events, and played Wendi Richter's manager in the inaugural WrestleMania event.[45] Dave Wolff, Lauper's boyfriend and manager at the time, was a wrestling fan as a boy, and engineered the rock and wrestling connection.[46]

In 1985, Lauper released the single "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough", from the soundtrack to the movie The Goonies, and an accompanying video which featured several wrestling stars. The song reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[47]

1986–1988: True Colors and Vibes[edit]

Lauper received two nominations at the 1986 Grammy Awards: Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "What a Thrill" and Best Long Form Music Video for Cyndi: Live in Paris.[48]

Lauper released her second album, True Colors, on September 15, 1986. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and sold 2 million copies in the US. She increased her involvement in production and songwriting on her second album, co-writing most of the songs with Essra Mohawk, John Turi, Billy Steinberg, and Tom Kelly. Guests included Angela Clemons-Patrick, Nile Rodgers, Aimee Mann, Billy Joel, Adrian Belew, The Bangles, Ellie Greenwich and Rick Derringer.[citation needed]

True Colors was not as commercially successful as She's So Unusual, but it did contain three high-charting singles, including the title track, "True Colors", which became Lauper's second song to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100; "Change of Heart" (No. 3); and a cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" (No. 12). A fourth single from the album, "Boy Blue", did not reach the top-40. She donated the proceeds of that song to AIDS research. The song "True Colors" (written by Steinberg and Kelly) was licensed to Kodak for use in its commercials.[citation needed]

In 1986, Lauper appeared on the Billy Joel album The Bridge, with a song called "Code of Silence". She is credited as having written the lyrics with Joel and she sings a duet with him. In the same year, Lauper also sang the theme song for the series Pee-wee's Playhouse, credited as "Ellen Shaw". In 1987, David Wolff produced a concert film for Lauper called Cyndi: Live in Paris. The concert was broadcast on HBO.[49]

Lauper made her film debut in August 1988 in the quirky comedy Vibes, alongside Jeff Goldblum, Julian Sands, Elizabeth Peña, and Peter Falk. Lauper played a psychic in search of a city of gold in South America. Ron Howard produced the film, with David Wolff as associate producer. To prepare for the role, Lauper took a few classes in finger waving and hair setting at the Robert Fiance School of Beauty in New York, and studied with a few Manhattan psychics. The film flopped and was poorly received by critics.[22][50]

Lauper contributed a track called "Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)" for the Vibes soundtrack, but the song was not included. A music video was released, a high energy, comic action/adventure romp through a Chinese laundry. The song reached No. 54 on the US charts, but fared better in Australia, reaching No. 8. "Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)" became the opening song on her 2008 Australian tour.[citation needed]

1989–1992: A Night to Remember and marriage[edit]

A Night to Remember – Lauper's third album – was released in the spring of 1989. The album had only one hit, the No. 6 single "I Drove All Night". Lauper received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards for "I Drove All Night", but overall album sales for A Night to Remember were down. The music video for the album's song "My First Night Without You" was one of the first to be closed-captioned for the hearing impaired.[51]

On July 21, 1990, Lauper joined Roger Waters' and other artists performing "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" as part of the concert The Wall in Berlin. As part of the concert, Lauper also performed "The Tide Is Turning" with Waters, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Paul Carrack and Van Morrison. Three hundred thousand people attended the concert and over five million people worldwide watched on live television.[citation needed]

Because of a friendship with Yoko Ono, Lauper took part in the May 1990 John Lennon tribute concert in Liverpool, performing the Beatles song "Hey Bulldog" and the John Lennon song "Working Class Hero".[52] She also took part in Ono and Lennon's son Sean project called "The Peace Choir", performing a new version of Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance".[53]

On November 24, 1991, Lauper married actor David Thornton.[54]

1993–1995: Hat Full of Stars and Twelve Deadly Cyns[edit]

Lauper's fourth album Hat Full of Stars was released in June 1993 and was met with critical acclaim, but failed commercially, unsupported by her label. The album, which tackled such topics as homophobia, spousal abuse, racism, and abortion sold less than 120,000 copies in the United States and peaked at No. 112 on the Billboard charts.[55] The video for the album's song "Sally's Pigeons" features the then-unknown Julia Stiles as the young Cyndi.[citation needed]

Lauper co-wrote several songs for the album with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ailee Willis, Nicky Holland, Tom Gray, Hugh Masekela and The Hooters. That same year, Lauper recorded "Boys Will Be Boys" with The Hooters for their album Out of Body. The Hooters dedicated their song "Private Emotion" to her.[citation needed]

The greatest hits album, Twelve Deadly Cyns...and Then Some, was released outside of the US in 1994 and reached US audiences in summer of 1995. It included two re-recorded tracks, "I'm Gonna be Strong", originally recorded with Blue Angel, and a reworking of her first hit, newly christened "Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)".

In 1993, Lauper returned to acting, playing Michael J. Fox's ditzy secretary in Life with Mikey. She also won an Emmy Award[56] for her role as Marianne on the sitcom Mad About You.[citation needed]

1996–2000: Motherhood and Sisters of Avalon[edit]

Lauper performing in 2000

On November 19, 1997, Lauper gave birth to her son Declyn Wallace Lauper Thornton.[57] Her fifth album, Sisters of Avalon, was released in Japan in 1996 and elsewhere in 1997. The album was written and produced with the help of Jan Pulsford (Lauper's keyboard player) and producer Mark Saunders. As in Hat Full of Stars, some of the songs in Sisters of Avalon addressed dark themes. The song "Ballad of Cleo and Joe" addressed the complications of a drag queen's double life. The song "Say a Prayer" was written for a friend of hers who had died from AIDS. "Unhook the Stars" was used in the movie of the same name. Again without support from her label, the release failed in America, spending a single week on the Billboard album chart at No. 188. This album also met with much critical praise including People magazine, which declared it "90s nourishment for body and soul. Lauper sets a scene, makes us care, gives us hope."[58]

In November 1998, Lauper released the Christmas album Merry Christmas...Have a Nice Life. The album contained both original material and standards, and was co-produced and mixed by William Wittman.[citation needed]

On January 17, 1999, Lauper appeared as an animated version of herself in The Simpsons episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken". In the episode, Lauper sings the National Anthem to the melody of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". In the same year, Lauper opened for Cher's Do You Believe? Tour alongside Wild Orchid.[citation needed] She also appeared in the films Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and The Opportunists.[59][60]

Lauper contributed a cover version of The Trammps's "Disco Inferno" to the soundtrack for the film A Night at the Roxbury. The song was also released as an EP and earned Lauper a nomination 1999 Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording. In 2000, Lauper contributed the song "I Want a Mom That Will Last Forever" to the children's movie Rugrats in Paris. The song was written with Mark Mothersbaugh. In 2000, Lauper also co-wrote the song "If You Believe" with Faye Tozer of the British pop group Steps, for the band's third studio album, Buzz.[citation needed]

2001–2004: Shine and At Last[edit]

In 2001, Lauper prepared a new album Shine. The album was a return to her early punk-rock sound and featured Japanese pop superstar Ryuichi Sakamoto, and George Fullan of Train. Just weeks before the album's scheduled release on September 11, 2001, her label (Edel America Records) folded. A five-song EP of Shine was released in June 2002, but the full-length album was released exclusively in Japan. An album of Shine remixes was eventually released through Tower Records.[citation needed]

On October 12, 2000, Lauper took part in the television show Women in Rock, Girls with Guitars performing with Ann Wilson of Heart and with the girl group, Destiny's Child. A CD of the songs performed was released exclusively to Sears stores from September 30 to October 31, 2001, and was marketed as a fundraiser for breast cancer.[citation needed]

In 2002, Sony issued a best-of CD, The Essential Cyndi Lauper. Lauper also released a cover album with Sony/Epic Records entitled At Last (formerly Naked City), which was released in 2003. At Last received one nomination at the 2005 Grammy Awards: Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), for "Unchained Melody". The effort was also a commercial hit, selling 4.5 million records[61]

In April 2004, Lauper performed during the VH1's benefit concert Divas Live 2004 alongside Ashanti, Gladys Knight, Jessica Simpson, Joss Stone and Patti LaBelle, in support of the Save the Music Foundation.[62]

2005–2007: The Body Acoustic[edit]

In 2005, under a new contract with Sony Music, Lauper released The Body Acoustic, an album that featured acoustic reinterpretations of tracks from her repertoire. The album also included two new tracks one of which was "Above the Clouds". Guest performers on the album included Shaggy, Ani DiFranco, Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday, Jeff Beck, Puffy AmiYumi, Sarah McLachlan, and Vivian Green. "Time After Time" with Sarah McLachlan charted on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.[citation needed]

She made appearances on Showtime's hit show Queer As Folk in 2005, directed a commercial for Totally 80s edition of the board game Trivial Pursuit in 2006, served as a judge on the 6th Annual Independent Music Awards and made her Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated The Threepenny Opera as Jenny. She performed with Shaggy, Scott Weiland of Velvet Revolver/Stone Temple Pilots, Pat Monahan of Train, Ani DiFranco, and The Hooters in the VH1 Classics special Decades Rock Live. In 2007, she sang "Beecharmer" with Nellie McKay on McKay's Pretty Little Head album, and "Letters To Michael" with Dionne Warwick.[citation needed]

On October 16, 2006, Lauper was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.[63]

2008–2009: Bring Ya to the Brink[edit]

Cyndi Lauper performing in 2008

In 2009, Lauper took a role and wrote a song for the Serbian movie Here and There, which stars her husband, David Thornton.[citation needed]

Lauper's sixth studio album, Bring Ya to the Brink was released in the United States on May 27, 2008. By the time of the album's US release, the single "Set Your Heart" already had significant airplay in Japan and Lauper had already begun an Australian tour with Katie Noonan and Kate Miller-Heidke. The album featured dance tracks written with artists including Axwell, The Scumfrog, Basement Jaxx, Digital Dog, Dragonette, Kleerup, and others. Bring Ya to the Brink received one Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album and charted two #1 hits on the Billboard Dance chart. "Set Your Heart" was used in the Japanese advertising campaign for the 2008 Toyota MarkX ZIO.[citation needed]

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Other projects for 2008 included the True Colors Tour and a Christmas duet with Swedish band The Hives, entitled "A Christmas Duel". The song was released as a CD single and a 7" vinyl in Sweden.[64] Lauper also performed on the "Girls Night Out", headlining it with Rosie O'Donnell in the US.[65]

Lauper's TV appearances in 2009 included the American soap opera As the World Turns, performing "Time After Time" as a duet with Allison Iraheta, on the season 8 finale of American Idol and at the 2009 TV Land Awards on April 19 dressed as the "Empress of Evil" for a musical tribute to Sid and Marty Krofft. Lauper performed a duet with Leona Lewis on VH1 Divas on September 19, 2009, singing "True Colors", and performed a comedy skit with Eminem at the MTV VMA's in September 2009. She also played herself in 30 Rock's third season finale and appeared as Avalon Harmonia, a psychic, on the Season 5 premiere of Bones.[66]

On November 17, 2009, Lauper performed a collaborative work with Wyclef Jean called "Slumdog Millionaire", performing it on the Late Show with David Letterman.[67] The collaborative effort stems from Jean's latest album: Toussaint St. Jean: From the Hut, To the Projects, To the Mansion.[citation needed]

2010–2012: The Celebrity Apprentice, Memphis Blues, memoir[edit]

In January 2010, Mattel released a Cyndi Lauper Barbie doll as part of their "Ladies of the 80s" series.[citation needed]

In March 2010, Lauper appeared on NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice, coming in sixth place.[68] She donated her winnings to her True Colors Fund. Lauper also performed a song from her upcoming album Memphis Blues in the show's live season finale.[69]

Memphis Blues—Lauper's 7th studio album—was released on June 22, 2010 and debuted on the Billboard Blues Albums chart at No. 1, and at No. 26 on the Billboard Top 200. The album remained No. 1 on the Blues Albums chart for 14 consecutive weeks; Memphis Blues was nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 2011 Grammy Awards.[70]

Lauper made international news in March 2011 for an impromptu performance of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" while waiting for a delayed flight at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Buenos Aires. A video was later posted on YouTube.[71][72]

In November 2011, she released two Christmas singles exclusive to iTunes. The first release was a Blues-inspired cover of Elvis Presley's classic "Blue Christmas", and the second was a new version of "Home for the holidays", a duet with Norah Jones. In June 2012, Lauper made her first appearance for WWE in 27 years, to promote WWE Raw's 1000th episode to memorialize "Captain" Lou Albano.[73]

In September 2012, Lauper performed at fashion designer Betsey Johnson's 40 year Retrospective Fashion show.[74] She also released a New York Times Best Selling memoir that detailed her struggle with child abuse and depression.[75]

2013–present: Kinky Boots, She's So Unusual: A 30th Anniversary Celebration & more[edit]

Lauper composed music for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots with Harvey Fierstein. The musical was based on the 2006 independent film Kinky Boots. It opened in Chicago in October 2012[76] and on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 4, 2013.[77] In May, Lauper won for best score for Kinky Boots at the 63rd annual Outer Critics Circle Awards.[78] The musical led the 2013 Tony Awards, with 13 nominations and six wins including Best Musical and Best Actor. Lauper won the award for Best Original Score.[79] Lauper was the first woman to win solo in this category.[80]

In the summer of 2013, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of her debut album She's So Unusual, Lauper embarked on an international tour covering America and Australia. The show consisted of a mix of fan favorites and the entirety of the She's So Unusual record. She was a guest on 36 dates of Cher's Dressed to Kill Tour, starting April 23, 2014.[81][82][83] A new album was confirmed by Lauper on a website interview.[84]

Lauper hosted the Grammy Pre-Telecast at the Nokia Theatre, L.A. on Jan 26,[85] where she later accepted a Grammy for Kinky Boots (Best Musical Theater Album).[86]

On April 1 (March 1 in Europe), Lauper released the 30th Anniversary edition of She's So Unusual through Epic Records[87] It featured a remastered version of the original album plus three new remixes. The Deluxe Edition featured bonus tracks such as demos and a live recording as well as a 3D cut-out of the bedroom featured in the 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' music video with a reusable sticker set.[88]

On September 17, 2014, Cyndi Lauper sang on the finale of America's Got Talent.[23][89]

On September 25, as part of the Today Show's Shine a Light series, Lauper re-recorded "True Colors" in a mashup with Sara Bareilles' "Brave" to raise awareness and money for children battling cancer.[90] By October the project had raised over $300,000.[91]

The Songwriters Hall of Fame included Lauper in its nomination list on October 2014.[92] Also during October, Lauper's fourth consecutive 'Home for the Holidays' benefit concert for homeless gay youth was announced. Acts included 50 Cent and Laverne Cox with 100% of the net proceeds going to the True Colors Fund[93]

In March 2015 Lauper once again guest starred on the crime show Bones as Avalon Harmonia.[94]

On June 12, 2015, Lauper appeared on The Graham Norton Show alongside Seth MacFarlane, Dara O'Briain, and Mark Wahlberg.

To promote her work with the National Psoriasis Foundation and Novartis and revealing she, herself has suffered from psoriasis for the past five years, Cyndi appeared on the Today Show in July 2015. During the interview Cyndi revealed she is working on a project with Seymour Stein. Later it was revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone she is working on a country album with Tony Brown, and Seymour Stein as executive producer.[95]

On September 15 Kinky Boots opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End.[96]


Lauper performing at the Gay Games VII, Wrigley Field, July 22, 2006

Lauper has been an LGBT rights supporter throughout her career, campaigning for equality through various charities and gay pride events around the world. Lauper stated that she became involved in gay rights advocacy because her sister Ellen was a lesbian and because Lauper herself was passionate about equality. Lauper's cites her sister Ellen was a role model.[97]

Her song "Above the Clouds" celebrates the memory of Matthew Shepard, a young man beaten to death in Wyoming solely because he was gay. As a member of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board, Lauper devoted a concert tour in 2005 to promoting the Foundation's message.[98]

She co-founded the True Colors Tour for Human Rights throughout the United States and Canada in June 2007. One dollar from each ticket was earmarked for the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates equal rights for LGBT individuals.[99] In April 2010, Lauper's True Colors Fund launched the Give a Damn campaign, to help get straight people more involved in LGBT rights.[97]

Lauper pushed for the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which considered assault based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity as a hate crime. In 2009 Lauper attended the law's signing ceremony.[citation needed]

In 2012 Lauper started the Forty to None Project after learning that while 10% of American youth identify themselves as LGBT, up to 40% of American homeless youths do so. She set up the True Colors Residence in New York City for LGBT homeless youths. The 30-bed facility offers temporary shelter and job placement help.[100]

In August 2008, she contributed an article titled "Hope" to The Huffington Post, encouraging Americans to vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming United States presidential election.[101] Lauper performed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.[97]


Lauper was one of the earliest female artists to harness MTV. She was described by All Music's Lindsay Planer as an iconoclastic vocalist who revolutionized the role of women in rock and roll.[102] Over her thirty-year career, she influenced multiple recording artists including Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, India Arie, Jewel, Jill Scott, Joan Osborne, Kasey Chambers, Maximum Balloon, No Doubt, P!nk, Sophie B. Hawkins, Vanessa Paradis,[103] Tegan and Sara,[104] Nicki Minaj, Kelly Clarkson, Lil' Kim, Lady Gaga, Little Boots, and Yelle.[105] Due to her success and influence Lauper has been inducted in to both the Hollywood and Songwriters Hall of Fame[106]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Spotify notes that She's So Unusual and distinctive idiosyncratic appearance "helped popularize the image of punk and new wave for America, making it an acceptable part of the pop landscape".[103] Rolling Stone magazine stated that her debut was "arguably the first time explicitly punk-influenced elements were front-and-center on the pop landscape, both musically and via Lauper's Patrick Lucas-styled ensembles, dressing up the droll Reagan decade in feminist chutzpah."[107] The album ranked at #487 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003. The album ranked at #41 on Rolling Stone's list of Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012.[108] Rolling Stone's review stated, "A wild and wonderful skyrocket of a voice... Lauper's extraordinary pipes connect with the right material, the results sound like the beginning of a whole new golden age." Thirty years after its release, the album was praised as 'everlasting' and a 'once in a lifetime album'.[109]

Her iconic cover and re-arrangement of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" established her as 'a feminist idol'.[61] Sheila Moeschen argued that the song 'embodied a different kind of feminine aesthetic that ran counter to the raw sensuality and edginess of her contemporaries like Madonna or veteran rockers Joan Jett and Pat Benatar' that introduced 'a nation of women to a new kind of female role model, one that celebrated difference and encouraged playfulness in self-expression'.[110] John Rockwell wrote that the song was "a giddily upbeat attestation to female pleasure that simultaneously made a feminist statement, fulfilled male fantasies and—especially in its often-played video version—evoked the warmth of family and friends."[111] The video for "Girls" won the first-ever Best Female Video prize at the 1984 VMAs. It featured a multicultural cast of women with teased, sideways hair and neon eye shadow, singing alongside Lauper.[8] She was the first woman to have four Top 5 hits from a debut album, the first woman to win the composing category solo during the 2013 Tony Awards and one of only four women to have won competitive Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards.[citation needed]

Lauper's song "Time After Time" has been covered by over 100 artists and was ranked at #22 on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Songs of the Past 25 Years[112] and at #19 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s.[113]

"She Bop", the third single from She's So Unusual made history as the first and only top ten song to directly mention a gay porn magazine.[114] The single was included in the PMRC's "Filthy Fifteen" list that led to the parental advisory sticker that marked recordings thought to be unsuitable for young listeners.[114] In their 1984 retrospective Rolling Stone listed She Bop as the 36th best song of that year, praising it for its unusual playfulness regarding sexuality.[115]

Her song "True Colors" is recognized by many as an LGBT anthem. Her many projects supporting LGBT rights made her a gay icon.[116]



List of theatre, television, and film credits
Year Title Role Notes
2000 Matters of the Heart Herself Broadway concert
2006 The Threepenny Opera Jenny (Ginny Jenny/Low-Dive Jenny) Broadway musical
2013 Kinky Boots Broadway musical (writer)
Year Title Role Notes
1989 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Herself 1 episode: "Robo Koopa/Captain Lou is Missing"
1990 Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme Mary (Had a Little Lamb) TV movie
1990 The Wall – Live in Berlin Young Pink TV movie
1993–1999 Mad About You Marianne Lugasso 4 episodes
1999 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Pidge (voice) 1 episode: "The Happy Prince"
1999 The Simpsons Herself (voice) 1 episode: "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken"
1999 The Happy Prince Pidge TV movie
2004 Higglytown Heroes Operator Hero (voice) 1 episode: "Smooth Operator/Stinky Situation"
2005 That's So Raven Ms. Petuto 1 episode: "Art Breaker"
2005 Queer as Folk Herself 1 episode: "I Love You"
2007 The Backyardigans 1 episode: "International Super Spy"
2008 Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List Herself 1 episode: "Fly the Super Gay Skies"
2008 Gossip Girl Herself 1 episode: "Bonfire of the Vanity"
2009 30 Rock Herself 1 episode: "Kidney Now!"
2009 The Apprentice: The Celebrity Apprentice 3 Herself/Contestant Season 3
2009–2015 Bones Avalon Harmonia 4 episodes
2012 Bob's Burgers Performer (voice) 1 episode: "The Belchies"
2012 Happily Divorced Kiki 1 episode: "Follow the Leader"
2013 Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual Herself 12 episodes (executive producer)
2014 Front and Center Herself 1 episode
Year Title Role Notes
1984 Prime Cuts Herself Cameo
1985 Girls Just Want to Have Fun Woman in Diner Uncredited
1988 Vibes Sylvia Pickel
1991 Off and Running Cyd Morse
1993 Life with Mikey Geena Briganti
1994 Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Picnic Guest Uncredited
1996 Sesame Street Elmocize Twyla Cameo
2000 The Opportunists Sally Mahon
2005 The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie Herself Cameo
2009 Here and There Rose
2011 Dirty Movie Little Johnny's Mom
2014 Henry & Me Nurse Cyndi Nominated - Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production


Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Lauper has won two awards from 15 nominations.

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1985 Cyndi Lauper Best New Artist Won
She's So Unusual Album of the Year Nominated
"Time After Time" Song of the Year Nominated
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Record of the Year Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
1986 "What a Thrill" Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
1987 "True Colors" Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
"911" Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
1988 "Cyndi Lauper in Paris" Best Performance Music Video Nominated
1990 "I Drove All Night" Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
1999 "Disco Inferno" Best Dance Recording Nominated
2005 "Unchained Melody" Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) Nominated
2009 Bring Ya to the Brink Best Electronic/Dance Album Nominated
2011 Memphis Blues Best Traditional Blues Album Nominated
2014 Kinky Boots Best Musical Theater Album Won

Tony Awards[edit]

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known informally as the Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. Lauper is the first woman to win a Tony solo for Best Score.[117]

Year Production Category Result
2013 Kinky Boots Best Original Score Won

Emmy Awards[edit]

An Emmy Award recognizes excellence in the television industry.

Year Production Category Result
1994 Mad About You Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series Nominated
1995 Mad About You Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series Won

MTV Video Music Award[edit]

The MTV Video Music Awards were established in 1984 by MTV to celebrate the top music videos of the year. Lauper won one award from 14 nominations, being the first person to win in the category Best Female Video.

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1984 "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Video of the Year Nominated
Best New Artist Nominated
Best Female Video Won
Best Concept Video Nominated
Viewer's Choice Nominated
Best Overall Performance Nominated
"Time After Time" Best New Artist Nominated
Best Female Video Nominated
Best Direction Nominated
1987 "True Colors" Best Female Video Nominated
"What's Going On" Best Cinematography Nominated

Other recognitions[edit]

Year By List Work Ranked
1993 Rolling Stone The 100 Top Music Videos[7] "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" No. 22
1999 VH1 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll[14] Cyndi Lauper No. 58
MTV 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made[9] "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" No. 39
Rolling Stone 100 Best Albums of the '80s[118] She's So Unusual No. 75
2000 Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Pop Songs[119] "Time After Time" No. 66
2001 VH1 100 Greatest Videos[10] "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" No. 45
2002 Rolling Stone 50 Essential "Women in Rock" Albums[120] She's So Unusual No. 41
2003 VH1 100 Best Songs of the Past 25 Years[13] "Time After Time" No. 22
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[121] She's So Unusual No. 494
2006 VH1 100 Greatest Songs of the 80's[122] "Time After Time" No. 19
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" No. 23

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Culture Club
Grammy Award for Best New Artist
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Eileen Heckart
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Succeeded by
Betty White