Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She initially performed in theater, appearing in high school plays and studied at CAP21 through New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career. After leaving a rock band, participating in the Lower East Side's avant garde performance art circuit, and being dropped from a contract with Def Jam Recordings, Gaga worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. There, Akon noticed her vocal abilities and helped her sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own KonLive Distribution.
Gaga rose to prominence with her debut album The Fame, a critical and commercial success which produced global chart-topping singles such as "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster, was met with similar reception and released the successful singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro". Her second full-length album Born This Way was released in 2011, topping the charts in more than 20 countries, including the United States, where it sold over one million copies in its first week.