Madonna's mom and dad inspired a lot of her music
Madonna’s parents have greatly impacted her career.
The “Like a Virgin” singer was born to Madonna Louise, her namesake, and Silvio Ciccone on Aug. 16, 1958, in Bay City, Michigan. Her parents welcomed five other children together: Anthony, Martin, Paula, Christopher and Melanie.
Her mother died of breast cancer at age 30, which Madonna has said encouraged her drive for stardom. Silvio later remarried their housekeeper, Joan, and welcomed Madonna's youngest siblings, Mario and Jennifer.
Madonna told Rolling Stone in 1989 that her relationship with her father had been “up and down” over the decades but that there’s always love at the core of it. “Whenever I need him, he’s there for me,” she said.
So, who are Madonna’s parents? Here’s everything to know about Madonna Louise and Silvio Ciccone and their relationship with the Queen of Pop.
Silvio is a first-generation American
Born in Pennsylvania in 1931, Silvio is a first-generation American of Italian descent and the youngest of six boys. His parents came from Italy by boat, Madonna recounted to TIME in 1985, adding that they settled just outside of Pittsburgh, where Silvio's father began working in a steel mill.
“My grandmother and grandfather spoke no English at all,” Madonna said. “They weren't very educated, and I think in a way they represented an old life-style that my father really didn't want to have anything to do with. It's not that he was ashamed, really, but he wanted to be better."
After serving in the Air Force, Silvio moved to Michigan and started working as an engineer. “I think he wanted us to have a better life than he did when he was growing up,” Madonna explained.
They met through Madonna Louise’s older brother
Silvio was in the Air Force in his youth, and one of his closest friends there was the eldest brother of his future wife. Through their friendship, he eventually was introduced to Madonna Louise — and according to their daughter, it was love at first sight.
“Of course he met my mother, and he fell in love with her immediately,” Madonna told TIME in 1985. “She was very beautiful. I look like her,” she said, adding that she inherited certain traits from each of her parents. “I have my father's eyes but I have my mother's smile and a lot of her facial structure."
Madonna is named after her mother
Madonna isn’t a stage name — the "Material Girl" singer was named Madonna Louise Ciccone after her French Canadian mother.
“My mother is the only other person I have ever heard of named Madonna,” she told TIME. “I never had trouble with the name ... I went to Catholic schools. And then when I got involved in the music industry, everybody thought I took it as a stage name. So I let them think that ... It's pretty glamorous.”
They welcomed six children together
Madonna's parents welcomed six children together: Anthony, Martin, Madonna, Paula, Christopher and Melanie. After the family matriarch’s death, Silvio and his second wife Joan welcomed two more children, Jennifer and Mario.
"Thank you for blowing my mind as a young girl," she wrote on her Instagram Story. "You planted many important seeds." She added that Anthony introduced her to many of the musicians and ways of thinking she holds dear, from Charlie Parker and Miles Davis to Buddhism and Taoism.
Madonna's siblings have attended her concerts over the years. Her younger brother Christopher has even been involved in her career — he was a backup dancer in Madonna's music video for “Lucky Star,” was the art director of her Blond Ambition World Tour in 1990 and the production design lead for The Girlie Show in 1993.
They raised their children in Michigan
Just like her mother, Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan. They later moved to the suburbs of Detroit, where Madonna and her siblings grew up.
Madonna didn’t stray far from her hometown after high school, initially opting to pursue a degree at the University of Michigan after she was accepted on a dance scholarship. But the multi-hyphenate’s foray into college life didn’t last long — she later left the university and headed to New York in pursuit of a dance career.
They were both Catholic
Madonna Louise and Silvio got married in a Catholic church in Michigan in 1955. Madonna has said that their Catholic faith was very present in her childhood and inspired many of her songs.
“I grew up with priests and nuns, and I always looked up to them,” the Evita star told NPR in 2019. “Everything was about the church, while everybody was slugging back the martinis. It was fabulous."
Madonna told TIME in 1985 that she found nuns “very beautiful” while growing up — to the degree that she even considered becoming one. “For several years I wanted to be a nun, and I got very close to some of them in grade school and junior high. I saw them as really pure, disciplined, sort of above-average people,” she explained.
According to Rolling Stone, Madonna’s mother was the first one to teach the singer how to pray, leading Madonna to dedicate “Like a Prayer” to her.
Madonna Louise died at age 30
Madonna’s mother died of breast cancer at age 30 on Dec. 1, 1963, when the singer was 5 years old. The "Open Your Heart" singer told TIME that her mother was a “forgiving, angelic person."
“I remember also I knew she was sick for a long time with breast cancer, so she was very weak, but she would continue to go on and do the things she had to do,” she explained.
Madonna also reflected on how her mother's sickness affected her. “I know she tried to keep her feelings inside, her fear inside, and not let us know. She never complained,” she said. “I think that made me grow up fast. I knew I could be either sad and weak and not in control or I could just take control and say it's going to get better.”
Her mother’s death impacted her work
Madonna has opened up about how her personality and music have been affected by her mother's unexpected death.
The singer opened up to the late Carrie Fisher in a 1991 story for Rolling Stone, admitting that her mother’s death prompted her desire for attention and fame. "I've turned my need on to the world and said, 'OK, I don't have a mother to love me, I’m going to make the world love me.' "
Madonna Louise's death also largely inspired her daughter's music, as exhibited in "Promise to Try" in 1989, "Mer Girl" in 1998 and "Mother and Father" in 2003.
Madonna has opened up about her relationship with her father
Self-proclaimed as her “father’s favorite,” Madonna referred to him as her “role model” in a 1985 interview with TIME. “I knew how to wrap him around my finger,” she said of her childhood.
Madonna told Rolling Stone in 1989 that she cared about making her father proud. “More than anything, I want my father’s approval, whether I want to admit it or not," she said. "But he’s always been very affectionate with me.”
Overall, her love for him runs deep, which she wrote about in her 1990 memoir Madonna: In Her Own Words. “I have a million different feelings about my father, but mostly I love him to death," she wrote. "What’s difficult for my father is the idea that I don’t need him. But I do need him."
Silvio owns a vineyard
Silvio learned the art of winemaking from his Italian father, which he used to found the Ciccone Vineyard and Winery in Suttons Bay, Michigan, in October 1995.
Some of his children have joined him in the business, with Mario acting as vineyard manager, Paula taking the lead as winemaker and Jennifer helping to oversee operations.
Madonna and her siblings celebrated their dad's 90th birthday in 2021
The “Vogue” singer and her siblings gathered together to celebrate their father’s 90th birthday in June 2021. Madonna brought along most of her kids for the occasion, including Lourdes Leon, Mercy James, Stella, Estere and David Banda.
The pop icon shared a sweet montage video on Instagram of her father and several of her sisters to commemorate the special occasion.
"My father is a survivor growing up as an Italian Immigrant in the US and living thru many traumas but always working hard for everything he had," Madonna captioned the since-deleted Instagram post. "He taught me the importance of hard work and earning one's way in life."
Madonna got a tattoo in honor of her late mom
In April 2022, the star got a red tattoo on her wrist that read “Maman,” the French word for “mother,” in honor of her namesake.
Madonna elaborated on the motivation behind the tattoo in a video that she shared on Instagram. "I'm doing this for my mother," she said in the clip, adding, “My mother bled for me, and so I'm bleeding for her. It's a family affair."
Madonna has said she misses her mother “every day”
Madonna once again paid tribute to her mother on Mother’s Day in 2023, reflecting on how Madonna Louise's absence had shaped her own experience of motherhood.
"I miss my mother every day,” she wrote. “And have fantasized for decades of what it must be like to have a mother to: call on for help, guidance, care And wisdom."
Madonna ended the message with a parting wish of connection between her late mother and her own children. "And dear Mother…wherever you are. I hope you are happy with your grandchildren!! I often imagine you singing and dancing with us in the kitchen !"
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