Cyndi Lauper has released 11 albums and over 40 singles, and as of 2008 had sold more than 30 million records worldwide.
Cynthia Ann Stephanie "Cyndi" Lauper was born and raised in Ozone Park in Queens, New York. When she was young, Lauper listened to recordings by Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Beatles.
At the age of twelve, Lauper learned how to play an acoustic guitar, and started to write her own lyrics. Even at this early age, Lauper started dyeing her hair different colors and wearing unusual clothes. Lauper was accepted in a special public high school for students with talent in the visual arts, but she dropped out, earning her GED later.
At the age of seventeen, she left home, planning to study art. Her journey would take her to Canada, where she spent two weeks in the woods with her dog, Sparkle, trying to find herself. She eventually wound up in Vermont, where she took art classes at Johnson State College. She supported herself by working at various odd jobs.
In the mid 1970s, Lauper performed as a vocalist with various cover bands in the New York metropolitan area, singing hits by bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, and Bad Company. In 1977, Lauper damaged her vocal cords and took a year off. She was told by three doctors that she would never sing again. Vocal coach Katie Agresta helped Lauper regain her voice by teaching her proper vocal exercises.
In 1978, after Lauper regained her voice, she met saxophone player John Turi. They became writing partners, formed a band called Blue Angel, and made demos of original material. The tape found its way over to Steve Massarsky, who was managing The Allman Brothers Band. Massarsky said the tape was horrible, but he was attracted to Lauper's voice. He saw them play live and eventually started managing the band after buying their contract out for $5,000. Lauper held out, wanting the band to be included in any deal she made.
Polydor Records eventually signed them as a band. In 1980, they released a self-titled album on Polydor Records. Rolling Stone magazine later included it as one of the 100 best new wave album covers.
Despite good reviews the album sold poorly 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. This suit forced Lauper into bankruptcy.
Lauper started working in retail stores such as the New York high-end thrift store Screaming Mimi's to make ends meet, and sang in local clubs. In 1981, while singing in a local New York bar, Lauper met David Wolff, who took over as her manager, and got her signed with Portrait Records, a subsidiary of Epic Records. Wolff had been working with a band called Arc Angel.
In October 1983, She's So Unusual was released and peaked at #4 in the US becoming a worldwide hit. Lauper became popular with teenagers and critics, in part due to her punkish look.
Lauper wanted to write songs, but the record company had material they wanted her to record. She often changed the lyrics to suit her. An example is her Platinum-certified "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"; Lauper says the original lyrics of the song dealt more with a girl pleasing a man, and therefore she changed the lyrics, wanting the song to be more of a female anthem. he video for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" made Lauper an MTV staple.
The album's second single was the ballad "Time After Time." The record label did not have much faith in Lauper as a songwriter, but they gave her the chance to prove herself. "Time After Time" hit #1 on both Billboard's Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. It earned Lauper Gold certification with sales of 500,000 from the RIAA and was one of the biggest hits of 1984.
Lauper released her second album, True Colors, on September 15, 1986. It reached #4 on the Billboard 200. For this album, she increased her involvement both in production and songwriting.
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. The film was produced by Ron Howard.
On October 16, 2006, she was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
In June 2010, Memphis Blues was released. It debuted on the Billboard Blues Album Chart at #1, and it debuted on Billboard's Top 200 Albums Chart at #26. The album remained #1 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart for 14 consecutive weeks; Memphis Blues fell to #2 on October 16, 2010 and then to #3 on October 23, 2010. Memphis Blues is Lauper's eleventh album.