“I come from a line of great Sicilian women, and their mentality is to endure and push through to the other side.”
Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper was born on June 22, 1953. Her mother, Catrine Gallo, is an Italian American whose family is from Sicily. Cyndi was raised in Queens, NY, as a Roman Catholic. She dropped out of high school and moved out on her own when she was 17. She began singing in local cover bands and working odd jobs to make ends meet. In 1977, she damaged her vocal chords and was told that she would never be able to sing again. She ignored her doctor’s warnings and sought help from opera singer Katherine Agresta who was able to train and help Cyndi sing again.
In 1983, Cyndi released her first solo album: She’s So Unusual. The album became an international hit, selling over 5 million copies in the U.S. alone and snagging a Grammy for new solo artist. She also became the first female artist to have four Top 5 singles on a debut album (with “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” and “All Through the Night”).
Following her success in the 80s, Cyndi branched out into acting. She met actor David Thornton on the set of one of her films and the two married in November 1991. In 1995, Cyndi won an Emmy Award for her role in the television series Mad About You. During the 90s, she would also go on to release several more records, though none were a commercial success. Cyndi and David had a son, Declyn, in 1997.
Most recently, Cyndi wrote the music and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots. In 2013, the musical won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. She has also co-founded several charities and regularly works with nonprofits.