Some people might not even know that this song has a place in this series Madonna vs. the Original. But the Ray Of Light we know was not an original song by Madonna. Do you know what the original was?
The British folk duo Curtiss Maldoon, made up by Dave Curtiss and Clive Muldoon, wrote the song Sepheryn in 1971. It was part of their eponymous album, released on Purple Records in October 1971. Sepheryn was never released as a single, so it never charted or got any airplay.
Christine Leach, Clive Maldoon's niece, record a cover of the song in 1996. That's how the song came to the attention of William Orbit, who was working with Leach at the time. During the recording sessions for Ray Of Light, Madonna heard Leach's cover and liked it a lot. Madonna and Orbit then reworked the song completely, only keeping the lyrics of the first verse and the chorus intact. The folk genre of the original made room for an electropop version, with elements of trance, disco and acid. Dave Curtiss is said to have been very impressed with Madonna's version, saying he couldn't believe what Madonna had done with the track. The track originally lasted for 10 minutes, Madonna explained: "It was completely indulgent, but I loved it. It was heartbreaking to cut it down to a manageable length".
Ray Of Light was released as second single in April 1998 (In June for the US). It received raving reviews from both critics and fans). Despite being the highest US single debut in Madonna's career, it stalled at #5 in the US chart. Still, it was certified Gold. In the UK it was kept from the top spot by All Saints' 'Under The Bridge / Lady Marmalade'. In Japan, Australia and Canada it got to respectively #5, #6 and #7.
Music critics loved the track. Billboard described it as "Madonna at her best"; Rolling Stone called Madonna "positively ferocious"; Slant Magazine gave it an A-rating and called it "celebratory tech-frenzy"; Entertainment Weekly titled it a "sirenlike techno-glitter-ball"; AllMusic praised Madonna's vocals as those of a "club diva to celestial goddess".
It was the first time that Madonna worked with Swedish producer Jonas Åkerlund. Åkerlund provided a high-speed video, showing ordinary people doing their daily routines. An incredibly fit Madonna is seen in tight jeans and jacket, dancing her ass off. The video received 6 awards at the 1998 VMA as well as 'Best Short Form Music Video' at the 1999 Grammies.
Madonna debuted Ray Of Light during her surprise concert at the Roxy NYC nightclub, and performed it during her promo tour, including the Oprah Winfrey Show and the MTV VMA.
The song was part of the setlits of three of Madonna's tours: the 2001 Drowned World Tour, the 2006 Confessions Tour and the 2008/2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour. Other performances worth mentioning are the 2005 Live 8 concert in London, the 2006 Coachella festival in California and the 2007 Live Earth concert in London. Several of these performances saw Madonna playing the electrical guitar.
In 1990, Madonna embarked on her seminal Blond Ambition Tour and was met with international controversy - even calls for a boycott from the Pope himself.
The pop icon was accompanied by a troupe of incredibly skilled young dancers, and would later release Truth or Dare: In Bed with Madonna, a behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling her relationship with those dancers, in which she described herself as "feeling like a mother" toward them.
A year later, with the tour at an end and the scandal surrounding the film gradually dying down, Madonna abandoned those young men and quickly moved on to hr next project.
Now, 25 years on, a new documentary is checking in with six of the seven dancers (the absent member is Gabriel Trupin, who died in 1995 at the age of 26 due to complications from AIDS), who speak movingly about the profound effect their work with the Vogue star had on each of their personal and professional lives.
Among the dancers featured in Strike A Pose is Kevin Stea, who was just 20 years old when he set off across the globe with Madonna. Since the tour, he has worked with a breathtaking list of artists, among them Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Stea says he didn't even really know who Madonna was when he first spotted a newspaper ad seeking dancers for her upcoming tour.
"I'd only just started dancing, I didn't intend ever to dance, I just ran out of money and I was able to dance and I got an agent and a job the following day," he recalls.
"I was desperate for any sort of job that would come up. Back then, they didn't really have agents, so Madonna took out an ad in a newspaper looking for 'FIERCE male dancers'. I had no idea what that meant but I went anyways, not even knowing how popular she was. I was shocked when the line of people was like 1,000 people long."
Looking back on that day, he laughs and says: "It was the easiest audition ever!"
Stea was placed in a group with 40 other men, and was told Madonna would only select one dancer from each group: "There'd be 40 of us going and she'd just say 'you, stay,' and that was it."
"Madonna was just sitting on the floor in front of us with her sunglasses and her little Nike hat, looking up at us. It wasn't intimidating at all because I wasn't a fanboy," he explains.
"I didn't even know much about her. I'd been living in Singapore and Oregon, I was a college rock kid and I had no television so I wasn't even in that world.
"By the time the audition was finished, she wasn't looking at me. She was chatting with Oliver and Gabriel. Meanwhile, it was my time to improvise. I sucked at the routines, I didn't know what voguing was, so I just improved and did every possible style I could."
Madonna's brother took notice, and a few weeks later Stea was hired as an associate choreographer. While Madonna was shooting the video for her hit single less/vog, she realised that Stea had precisely what she was looking for in her core dancers: personal style.
"I wore some outlandish stuff and I didn't care. When she saw that I had a really strong personal style, she actually fired one of the other dancers and then brought me in. She negotiated my contract with me on the set of Vogue!"
The first stop on the tour was Japan, where audiences were considerably quieter than in the US. Stea says he was totally unprepared for the response from the American fans, who delivered a "hurricane of screams" before the show even started.
"In Japan, everything was very formal and everybody was sitting down. By the time it got to the US, there was this unbelievable sound of screams that I never imagined in my life. It was overwhelming," he recalls.
"It really hit me in that moment how addictive it must be, how you never want it to end, and how much it gives you as a performer to hear that. I was charged by the audience, and I've chased that ever since. I understand why she'd want to continue touring and continue working because that's kind of the draw for me too, that energy."
Stea brought his parents to see the show, but says they didn't have a particularly strong reaction to it, and haven't seen much of his work since.
"Pop culture was never a subject of conversation in our household. It's just not that important to them, but it gave me a nice perspective on my own life and my career working with artists because I treat them like human beings," he says.
When he was with Madonna, Stea says he "definitely felt mothered", describing how she would take care of her dancers and mediate arguments between them.
"I'm sure she has no idea how grateful I am, because at the time I didn't have the communication skills to say that. She gave me a lot of opportunities to be myself around her," he explains, noting that he had just broken up with his girlfriend and was questioning his sexuality as he headed out on the road with her.
"She created a free space for me to explore that part of myself. I had never kissed a guy or thought about being in a relationship with a guy so all of that was a new exploration for me. It was freeing. I realised your sexuality doesn't define who you are, it's just a small sliver."
Stea remembers the highlight of his time with Madonna taking place during their stop in Rome, which he says "encapsulates the experience of the tour".
"We had just landed there amidst death threats and condemnation by the Pope, the word 'antichrist' was thrown around. It seemed so absurd to me, because nothing in the show seemed so crazy, but it was very scary.
"Amidst the fear, we – Madonna, Luis, Oliver, Gabriel and I – jumped in her limo and ran around Rome in the middle of the night in the dark, and it was empty for some reason, with these mafia guys with machine guns hanging out the window.
"We were racing down through Rome, through the colosseum, into the ruins, and we got out and we were just walking through this ancient city. I remember seeing the light flashing in her eyes, and I thought, 'this is such a unique moment', and that says a lot about the tour."
However, things eventually turned sour, as Stea and a number of other dancers filed a lawsuit against Madonna over how they were to be paid for appearing on camera in Truth or Dare. It was eventually dismissed after they reached an out-of-court settlement.
Stea describes a letter he wrote to Madonna at the time of the suit, explaining that he loved her and that the lawsuit was purely about business. She didn't see it the same way.
"I was at the premiere of Paris is Burning with Willi Ninja, and I had to get past her to get to my seat. I said, 'hi Madonna!' And she said 'f*** you, you're on my f***ing s*** list.' It was a total left-field moment for me. I didn't realise at the time how immature my letter was, I was just explaining my feelings, not speaking to a business woman.
"Obviously my relationship with her was strained from that moment, but I would hope there's some respect for what I did because if I learned anything I learned how to be strong and how to stand up for myself."
He says he finally achieved some closure years later when he bumped into Madonna at a dinner with friends.
"It wasn't awkward at all because I have no ill-will or anger to her, nothing. She was at the table next to us," he recalls.
"She came up after dinner and she was right here and I just held her hand, we hugged and then we were just chatting and talking the whole time. For me, it resolved a lot because in that moment I realised I'm okay. If she's holding on to something that's her business, but I have nothing left to hold onto. It was lovely to see her and I've sort of felt peace around that since then."
As he went on to work with global superstars, he says he has always carried the lessons he learned from Madonna and during his time on the Blond Ambition Tour.
"With Madonna I learned that you can't always be nice and want to change the world. They don't work hand in hand. But I also learned that you can be in a high stress situation with a lot at stake and you can still be nice and courteous.
"I've met some really amazing professionals who have shown me that celebrity can have grace, and actually the biggest celebrities are the most grateful, the most personable and the most accessible. The ones that have ego attached, I don't think they last as long."
When starring as Eva Peron in the 1996 movie version of the musical Evita, Madonna obviously had to cover the entire soundtrack. In our series Madonna vs. the Original we discuss the best known track, which was also a Top 10 hit single for Madonna.
Don't Cry For Me Argentina was written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. They used "It's Only Your Lover Returning" among other working titles before deciding on the final title. The song was originally performed by Julie Covington and released as first single of her concept album Evita on November 12th, 1976.
The song became a #1 hit in the UK (where it sold over a million copies, good for a Gold certification), Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It was also critically acclaimed, earning Webber and Rice an Ivor Novello award in 1977.
Over the years, Don't Cry For Me Argentina would get covered by dozens of artists, including Sinéad O'Connor, Olivia Newton-John, and The Carpenters.
When Webber and Rice took Evita to West End in 1978, Covington refused to take the part, so Elaine Paige (who was Tim Rice's lover for 11 years) was the first to sing the lead part in the musical. When the musical opened on Broadway, it starred Patti LuPone as Eva.
Soon after the musical, there were talks to make a movie adaptation, but it would take until the 90s to actually make it happen. After Ken Russell and Oliver Stone each quit the project, it was Alan Parker who eventually directed the movie, though he shared screenwriting credits with Stone.
Several actresses and singers were considered for the main role, including Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cher, Olivia Newton-John and Glenn Close. Madonna campaigned for the role for a long time. Eventually she convinced Parker by writing him a passionate letter about how Eva Peron had inspired her so much and how she was the perfectly placed person to portray her in the movie. After all, her rise to stardom does have some similarities to Evita's. With the letter she included a copy of her Take A Bow video, in which her look was clearly inspired by Eva Peron.
Nigel Wright, Alan Parker, Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Caddick produced Madonna's version of Don't Cry For Me Argentina, which was released as a single in the fall of 1996, exactly 20 years after Covington's original. It topped the charts in France, Canada and Japan; and reached #3 in Germany and the UK. The Miami Mix of the song was released two months later in the US. Since airplay was already fading by then, the song only made it to #8 in the Hot100. On the Hot Dance chart it still made it to #1.
There was no separate video produced. Instead, the movie scene of Evita performing the song at the balcony of the Casa Rosada was used to promote the single.
Don't Cry For Me Argentina was used as an instrumental interlude on the 2001 Drowned World Tour. On her 2008 Sticky & Sweet Tour, Madonna surprised Argentinian fans by performing an acoustic version of the song on her Buenos Aires shows. This version can be seen in the official DVD/Blu-ray of the show.
Let's go back, shall we? To a more innocent time. A time when Reagan was president, thus basically ruining America for the next four decades. A time when disco was dead, New Wave ruled, and Times Square was still dangerous. A time when a 24-year-old brunette from Michigan became the epitome of blond ambition. Out of this abyss ascended Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, who after 1983, would be known only by her first name, the name of her debut album: Madonna, which was released July 27, 1983.
Pop culture would never be the same.
What she lacked in talent, she made up for, abundantly, in style, charm, and yes, ambition. She had the sheer will to succeed, which at one point, was what the American dream was all about. A dancer with an unimpressive voice but impressive designs for her own career, Madonna attached herself to any and everyone who could help launch her "Lucky Star." The most important person, at least for a short while, in Madonna's quest for superstardom was John "Jellybean" Benitez, a DJ friend who added the pop sheen by which the album Madonna and the popstar Madonna would be fondly remembered.
Benitez recalled the young Ms. Ciccone:
"[S]he was unhappy with the whole [album], so I went in and sweetened up a lot of music for her, adding some guitars to 'Lucky Star', some voices, some magic... I just wanted to do the best job I could do for her. When we would playback 'Holiday' or 'Lucky Star', you could see that she was overwhelmed by how great it all sounded. You wanted to help her, you know? As much as she could be a bitch, when you were in groove with her, it was very cool, very creative."
Back in 1983, Madonna was cool without all the embarrassing effort, and more importantly, she defied expectations. Many labeled her a featherweight product of MTV, a channel she would come to define in the coming years. Critics dismissed the album upon its initial release, but it would go on to sell 10 million copies worldwide, and spawn the hit singles "Holiday", "Lucky Star" and "Borderline."
Those who thought Madonna a flash in the pan were in for a rude awakening. From day one, Madonna was always in control — of her sound, of her image, of her career. Take for instance, when Dick Clark interviewed the up-and-coming singer on American Bandstand — before anyone even knew or cared who she was, Madonna knew damn well.
Mission accomplished, as Madonna ultimately had the last laugh.
"The ones that said I was talentless, that I was chubby, that I couldn't sing, that I was a one-hit wonder," she said at her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. "They pushed me to be better, and I am grateful for their resistance." *sips tea*
While the previous posts in our series Madonna vs. the Original all had a famous original, some of Madonna's covers came from rather unknown songs. Today's entry doesn't really discuss a cover, but rather two songs that grew from the same demo.
It was in 1999 when Joe Henry was writing demo tracks for his new album, when his wife Melanie - also sister of Madonna - listened to one of the demos and said it could be a good fit for Madonna. She convinced her husband to send the track to Madonna, who indeed loved it.
Joe Henry completed his own version, which resulted into a blues / tango track Stop, which was added to his 8th album Scar, released in May 2001.
Meanwhile, Madonna reworked the demo track with Mirwais. While she kept the lyrics intact, Madonna used a completely different melody and rhythm. Mirwais also added his famous start-stop beat to it. Don't Tell Me was released as second single of the Music album in November 2000. It charted at #4 in the US, the UK and Japan; in Canada and Italy it even was a #1 hit single. By March 2001, it was certified Gold in the US.
In our previous post we criticized the video by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, but for Don't Tell Me he did a fantastic job. The video features Madonna in full cowgirl outfit, surrounded by 4 hot cowboys, referencing the theme of the Music album. Shot mostly in front of a green screen, the video is mostly remembered for its catchy choreography, which was also used during the performance at the Drowned World Tour.
Worth mentioning is Madonna's performance of the song at the David Letterman Show. She had just learned to play the guitar and performs singing and playing guitar before an audience for the first time, which results in the sweetest and most touching TV performance ever.
Though it wasn't included in recent tour setlists, the song made a minor comeback in 2014 when Madonna and Miley Cyrus performed a mash-up of Don't Tell Me with Miley's We Can't Stop at MTV Unplugged.
I Want You wasn't the first mo-town track covered by Madonna. In our series Madonna vs. the Original, we discuss the first cover track that appeared on one of her studio albums.
American soul and R&B group Rose Royce released Love Don't Live Here Anymore in November 1978. The song was written by Miles Gregory and produced by Motown producer Norman Whitfield. Gregory took inspiration for the song from his battle against drug abuse.
Although it received positive reviews, it only reached #32 in the Hot100 in the US. In the UK it faired better and made it to #2 in the charts.
Madonna covered the song in 1984. It was an idea of Michael Ostin, head of A&R at Warner Bros. Records, to include a cover of the song to the Like A Virgin album. AT the time, it wasn't a single, nor was it performed live. That changed 11 years later, when Madonna dug up Love Don't Live Here Anymore to include in her ballads collection Something To Remember. This time, the song was rearranged with more classical instruments and it received some remix treatments. Madonna released the song in March 1996. But critics nor fans had been waiting for the release of a 12 year old cover song, so it didn't chart higher than #78.
The video by Jean-Baptiste Mondino didn't help much either. Rushed in between the Evita production, it's basically one long shot of Madonna in a big marble room with waving curtains, where she's yearning for love. It's arguably her most boring video ever. It was shot at the Confitería El Molino in Buenos Aires on March 4th 1996, as Madonna took a day off from filming Evita. At the time she was in the early days of her pregnancy with Lola.
Funny detail: in 1986, the song was also covered by Jimmy Nail, who would also costar with Madonna in Evita 10 years later.
The song was never performed live until the 2015 Rebel Heart Tour, when Madonna mixed the song with HeartBreakCity into an emotional performance, featuring dancer Marvin and Madonna in a dramatical choreography on a spiral staircase.
Fever was written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell, and originally recorded by American R&B singer Little Willie John in 1956. While his version reached #24 in the Hot100, it was Peggy Lee's rendition in 1958 that became most famous. Peggy Lee added the lyrics about Romeo & Juliet and Captain Smith & Pocahontas, that are now considered as a standard part of the song.
Fever became Lee's signature song and peaked at #8 in the Billboard Hot100. In the UK, it charted at #5 on August 15th 1958, a day before Madonna's birth. At the 1st Annual Grammy Awards in 1959, the song received 3 nominations, including Song of the Year.
When Madonna and Shep Pettibone were in the studio to record Goodbye to Innocence for her 1992 album Erotica, Madonna suddenly started singing the lyrics of Fever to the music of Goodbye to Innocence. She ended up liking Fever more and ditched Goodbye to Innocence.
Madonna and Shep turned the track into a dance song with house and hiphop elements, and released it in March 1993 as 4th single of Erotica. Though several reviews, including The New York Times and Billboard were raving, many critics slammed the single. It only scored a #6 in the UK and #7 in Japan. It wasn't commercially released in the US because it was the B-single of Bad Girl, but the remix maxi-single scored a #1 on the Hot Dance / Club Play chart.
Stéphane Sednaoui used the Edit One remix for the video, which shows Madonna in a golden Gaultier outfit with silver-painted hair and skin, dancing in front of funky kaleidoscopic backgrounds.
In 1993, the song was first performed at Saturday Night Live and The Arsenio Hall Show, and then added to the setlist of the Girlie Show where she performed the track in between two half-naked muscled dancers. It was the first and last full tour performance of Fever, though Madona sang a few bars acapella at her 2015 Rebel Heart Tour stops in St. Paul, Cologne and Macau.
From "Vogue" to "Take a Bow" to "Ray of Light," Madonna scored some of her signature hits in the '90s. While most of her '80s pop compatriots struggled to stay on the radio, Madonna more-or-less maintained the same level of stardom throughout the decade, earning just two fewer Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits in the '90s than she did in the '80s.
But between Bedtime Stories and Evita, Madonna experienced her first real career dip. After several years of hypersexual imagery and songwriting (from the "Justify My Love" video to the Sex book) and some family-unfriendly public appearances (her 1994 Letterman interview in particular), a portion of the American public was exhausted with her by 1995. Puritanical pop listeners might be OK with a heartfelt plea for keeping a baby, but leather and whips is just too much.
While she soon got back on track with a prestige motion picture (Evita) and an elegant ballad collection (Something to Remember), there was one unfortunate musical casualty of her brief lull: "Human Nature."
One of the few hip-hop-inflected singles in her discography (it samples a song from Main Source, the same rap group that gave Nas his first on-wax appearance), "Human Nature" has a deeply funk foundation while maintaining the spacious, thin production common to many '90s R&B hits.
While "Take a Bow" -- released just a year earlier from the same album, Bedtime Stories -- was a smash No. 1 for Madge, "Human Nature" stalled at No. 46 despite a killer video and a defiant, empowering message. Lyrically, Madonna brushes off the prudes who faulted her for fixating on sex, pointing out that the "taboo" subject is simply human nature -- the most basic element of human nature at that. She also correctly points out that she'd have gotten less flak for exploring sexuality so bluntly if she were a man ("Would it sound better if I were a man?" is one of her whispered rhetorical questions throughout). And it's hard to argue with that -- have any of the male directors behind sexually explicit hit movies been put through the wringer like she has?
Furthermore, the "Express yourself, don't repress yourself" refrain is classic -- the kind of line built to be repeated decades later. So why didn't "Human Nature" at least knick the top 10?
Part of the reason may have been the fact that previous single "Bedtime Story" isolated too many radio programmers and casual fans. The Bjork co-write, while adventurous and exhilarating, didn't make sense on radio in the mid-'90s, and it was just too weird for most of her younger fans (and in 1995, she still had plenty of those).
Ultimately, though, it's the content of the song itself that prevented it from penetrating mass culture like previous dancefloor-ready singles. "Human Nature" is crafted as a challenge to those who thought she went too far by releasing an entire book devoted to erotic photos, and those are the people who don't want to discuss sexuality -- they just want to chastise you for talking about it. Even though the "I'm not your bitch/ Don't hang your shit on me" line was excised for radio, the message of "Human Nature" was still too much for those who hated her Dita Parlo persona.
"Human Nature" is the original "Unapologetic Bitch," but it came at a time when the idea of an unapologetic woman was far too threatening for most -- not just radio programmers and parents, but even many of her fans. To a Puritan, the only thing worse than a woman wearing a scarlet A is a woman proudly wearing a scarlet A.
Regardless, "Human Nature" holds up as one of her finest '90s singles, and today we're saluting this anthem to not apologizing when you know you were right in the first place.
According to him, he co-wrote and arranged the song while in the United States, noting a friend of his who produced Maddonna's last album was the one who created the beat for the song.
"Back in the States, I co-wrote a song for American songstress Madonna which is not yet released… I wrote the song so it's one of the songs which is actually being pushed to her right now to be released," he told 3News
He added: "I co-produced, co-arranged and stuff for Madonna's album".
With over a decade of experience, Ded Buddy entered the industry in the 1990s with the track Y3b3 Sa, which became an instant hit in Ghana.
A clip has surfaced on the web of what seems to be a professional recording of the Candy Shop performance at the Rebel Heart Tour. It was first posted on the Vimeo account of York Studios, an Australian production company, but was soon taken offline when fans had discovered it. Fortunately for us, someone saved it and placed it on Youtube.
Please keep in mind, there is no confirmation this actually belongs to the official DVD/Blu-ray of the tour. No release dates or other details are currently known for this release.
The original American Pie was written and performed by American folk singer Don McLean, who released it as a single of his American Pie album in November 1971. The single stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot100 for four weeks, and also scored a #1 spot in the charts in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
McLean was always mysterious about the meaning of the lyrics of the song. But in 2015, the meaning was revealed as the original manuscript was auctioned in New York: "Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. Life is becoming less idyllic. I don't know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense." The song also mentions "the day the music dies", referring to the tragic plane crash that killed rock 'n' roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson.
In the 1999 movie The Next Best Thing, Madonna's character and her on-screen friends sing American Pie at the funeral of a friend. Co-star Rupert Everett convinced Madonna to record and release her own version of the song, which was released in March 2000. Rupert also lend background vocals to the track. Madonna's version is shorter than the original and is more of a dance-pop track.
The single reached #1 in many countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, Austria and Finland. Ironically, it wasn't commercially released in the US. However, it managed to chart at #29, just based on airplay.
The release was promoted by a music video, directed by Philip Stolzl, who used a lot of splitscreens to show both ordinary American people and Madonna dancing in front of an American flag. Among the display of people and families, were both opposite-sex and same-sex couples kissing. Another bit of controversy was Madonna showing her butt crack and apparently ripping her low-back trousers.
American Pie was added on both the movie soundtrack and Madonna's studio album Music. That this wasn't by choice was revealed in 2001, when Madonna refused to include the single on her GHV2 compilation, saying the song was "being punished for ending up on Music", apparently something "a certain record company exec twisted her arm into doing". She never performed the song live.
The father of Madonna's adopted son has healed his rift with the superstar, MailOnline can reveal.
Yohane Banda said the pop queen is 'happy' again after her bitter custody battle with former husband Guy Ritchie over son Rocco.
In March Yohane blasted the singer over the dispute, claiming his son David Banda would be better off living in poverty than with her.
But the farmer says he and Madonna have settled their differences after she took the 10-year-old to visit his village in Malawi for the for the first time since the adoption.
In an exclusive interview he told MailOnline: 'I only want the best for my child and I was concerned for him when the custody battle with Rocco was happening.
'There was a rift and it has now been healed.'
Madonna took son Rocco, daughter Lourdes and adopted daughter Mercy to David's home village of Lipunga, close to Malawi's border with Zambia to see his family and receive his tribal name.
Yohane said any tension disappeared as soon as he clapped eyes on his son whom he had not seen since he gave him up for adoption at 13 months in 2006 when his mother died.
'I am extremely positive about Madonna. I can do nothing but praise her,' he told MailOnline.
'I am happy. As far as I am concerned, I was told by Madonna that the boy will come back to me once he has been educated.
'Nothing has changed in that respect. David was allowed to come here and explore, he said he would come regularly to the village.
'It is encouraging, and it is what I have known all along, even though everyone else told me he wouldn't come back.'
For Yohane, it put his mind at rest to see the 'happy and harmonious' family up close for the first time since Madonna, 57, was fighting film director Ritchie over whether Rocco, 15, should live in London or New York.
'They were a joyful, happy family,' he added. 'They were very close.'
The brothers, who are said to be particularly close, were both given traditional names. David was named Sezangakhona and Rocco, Zwangendawa.
Mercy, meanwhile, had not forgotten the language of her birth and was playing with the children in the village.
Madonna's visit has calmed Yohane's fears for David's welfare in March, at the height of Madonna dispute with Ritchie over Rocco.
Yohane said he was concerned that David was so far away living in the US while the star dated a number of younger men.
'What I have heard about Madonna's lifestyle since her divorce from Guy sounds quite shocking,' he was reported to have said at the time.
'Her having much younger boyfriends isn't in line with Malawian culture at all. David would not be exposed to that sort of thing here. It's not how we live. We have strong family values.'
But after months of worry, Yohane says he can now finally relax after hugging his son and seeing at close hand the bond she shares with David.
'I was interested in my boy - and only my boy,' he added.
The road to the reunion in the village has been a long one for Yohane, which started with the death of his wife shortly after she gave birth to David 11 years ago.
Unable to cope by himself with a newborn, Yohane - who earned just £50 a year - was advised to take his son to an orphanage, where he could be properly cared for.
It was here at Home of Hope Mission orphanage, some 70 kilometres away from his village, that Madonna spotted him: already mother to Lourdes, now 19, and Rocco with then-husband Richie, she set her heart on taking David home to London with her.
It wasn't easy. Madonna forgot to apply for a passport for the 13-month-old, and the plane was held on the tarmac. Yohane had to come forward to tell the world's media he wanted the adoption to go ahead - and blocking it would ruin his son's life chances.
Madonna would later compare the process to giving birth.
But unlike with Mercy, the little girl she adopted two years later, Madonna has kept good relations with Yohane, who has seen his son sporadically over the years.
Mercy's grandmother and father claim to have been kept separate from her.
It wasn't always easy for Yohane. When David was three, the two met - only for him to reveal, with a toddler's innocence, that he had no idea who Yohane was.
This latest trip was particularly special, however, because it appears to have come from David's own desire to know his Malawi roots.
'Madam Lucy, the Director of Home of Hope Mission, told me sometime early this year that David wanted to come to his village,' Yohane said
'But it was only on Thursday that she told us he would finally be coming the next day.'
It was a hero's welcome for David, the baby who left the village on the brink of death, returning healthy and educated.
They were met by Yohane, the chief and village elders amid ululation and jubilant singing by members of the entire village.
The village arranged performances of traditional dances, including performances by children from the village primary school where David would have gone if he had lived in the village.
It was joyous occasion for Yohane - not least because it was a chance to introduce him to his four younger siblings, the smallest of whom, Shukilo, is just two-and-a-half weeks old.
'I cannot find words to explain how elated I was to spend four hours with my son,' Yohane said.
'He is a good boy. Humble and well behaved. I am proud of him.
'He said it himself that that he regards this to be his home and that he will be coming here often.
'In fact I have been told it is David himself that demanded to come all the way here to see his village.'
She proudly watched as her son David Banda received his tribal name in his ancestral Malawian village yesterday.
And Madonna moved on to the southern city of Blantyre on Sunday, to tour a medical centre she is supporting, as part of her week-long trip to the sub-Saharan African country.
The 57-year-old star was visiting a paediatric surgery and Malawi's first ever intensive care unit, which is under construction at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, set to open in early 2017.
'In addition to raising the quality and availability of health care, we are also preparing for the future by training more Malawian medical staff in specialised paediatric care.'
Known for her charitable work, the American singer has committed to continue working with the unit until it received all the staff and equipment it needed.
'It's going to be my responsibility to make sure that this place has the equipment and is fully operational on a regular basis,' she explained. 'So I have a big job ahead of me. Wish me luck.'
Asked if she has any more projects for Malawi, she said: 'I would like to do one thing really well than many things half-assed, as they say in America.'
The children's unit will include Malawi's first paediatric intensive care unit, three operating rooms dedicated to children's surgery, a day clinic and a 50-bed ward.
It will enable the hospital to double the number of surgeries for children and will provide critical pre-operative and post-operative care.
Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi, was founded in 2006 to address the poverty and hardship endured by Malawi's orphans and vulnerable children.
While in the country, the star met with President Peter Mutharika and health minister Peter Kumpalume to talk about her charity work.
Raising Malawi partners with local organisations to provide Malawian children and their caregivers with critical resources including education and medical care.
Earlier in her trip Madonna had posed with her son David, who donned traditional ceremonial attire as he stood among men from his native country for his naming ceremony.
'David Receives his Ngoni tribal name in his ancestral village,' she captioned an Instagram snap.
The Like A Prayer hitmaker also appeared to have patched up her relationship with Rocco, after the pair became estranged, following a custody dispute with his father.
Madonna and ex-husband Guy Ritchie, 47, were in a prolonged battle over their eldest child, but have reportedly now amicably come to an agreement.
Madonna ranks at no. 12, earning $76,5 million, mostly from her Rebel Heart Tour. Other female artists include Adele at no. 9 with $80,5 million and Rihanna at no. 13 with $75 million.
Forbes commented on Madonna's entry:
Though Taylor Swift out-earned Madonna this year, the Material Girl's recent Rebel Heart Tour grossed $170 million, bringing her career total on the road to $1.4 billion before taxes, fees and spending. Madge also mints millions from perfume and clothing; her net worth now stands at an estimated $560 million.
Madonna's extensive discography includes some great cover tracks. In this new series Madonna vs. the Original, we take a closer look at them and compare with the originals. We start off with a 70s mo-town track that became a hidden gem in Madonna's discography.
On April 1st, 1976 — a day before his 37th birthday — mo-town artist Marvin Gaye released I Want You as the lead-off single of his album with the same title. The song was a fusion of different genres, an unusual mix for Gaye, with elements of soul, disco, jazz, funk and rock. The single topped the R&B chart and scored a #15 on the Billboard Hot100. It also helped sell the album over a million copies.
In 1995, Motown Records asked British trip-hop band Massive Attack to record a cover of I Want You for the tribute album Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye. When the idea of Chaka Khan doing the vocals fell through, producer Nelle Hooper instead suggested Madonna as vocalist.
3D from Massive Attack recorded Madonna's vocals in a New York studio and then reworked the track in hometown Bristol. Madonna was so impressed with the result that she decided to include the song in her ballad collection Something To Remember, in both an original and an orchestral version.
Though the single was supposed to be the lead-off single for Something To Remember, but legality problems occurred between the Motown label and Madonna's record company, so the release never happened. However, there was a video directed by Earle Sebastian. The black & white video was inspired by and pays hommage to A Telephone Call, a short story written by American writer Dorothy Parker.
Funny fact: Madonna was also 37 when she recorded the track, just like Marvin Gaye at the original release.
Like mother, like daughter. Apart from the physical resemblance, Madonna and her daughter Lourdes have many characteristics in common. Lola has inherited quite some star presence and elegance from her famous mother.
Designer Stella McCartney, one of Madonna's best friends who also designed her wedding dress and several tour costumes, has now cast Lola to be part of the #POPNOW film, the campaign film shot by Melina Matsoukas which promotes McCartney's new fragrance POP.
Madonna, currently visiting Malawi, is planning to visit the construction of a children's wing at a hospital that her charity is funding in the southern African country's largest city, Blantyre.
The pop star has been in Malawi for a week during which she has met with President Peter Mutharika and health minister Peter Kumpalume. Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi, is scheduled to visit Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital on Sunday (July 10) to view the pediatric unit where construction started in May 2015 and which is expected to open in early 2017.
"This new facility is the first pediatric surgery and intensive care unit in any Malawi hospital. It will have an enormous impact on saving the lives of children," said Madonna, in a statement released to The Associated Press. "In addition to raising the quality and availability of health care, we are also preparing for the future by training more Malawian medical staff in specialized pediatric care."
The children's unit will include Malawi's first pediatric intensive care unit, three operating rooms dedicated to children's surgery, a day clinic and a 50-bed ward. It will enable Queen Elizabeth hospital to double the number of surgeries for children and will provide critical pre-operative and post-operative care.
Raising Malawi was founded in 2006 to address the poverty and hardship endured by Malawi's orphans and vulnerable children. Raising Malawi partners with local organizations to provide Malawian children and their caregivers with critical resources including education and medical care.
Now that Madonna is on good terms with her son Rocco, the mother-son duo have even embarked on a trip together!
The 57-year-old star was joined by her 15-year-old son and her other children, Lourdes, 19, Mercy James, 10 and David Banda, 10, as she visited Mchinji, Malawi to perform charity work.
On Monday, the MDNA singer shared a snap of herself with her family and locals along with the caption, "Sitting with Mama Sofie, We are Humbled!"
Rocco, who reunited with his mum a few weeks ago following months of dispute, seemed thrilled to be visiting the birth country of his siblings Mercy James and David Banda.
Madonna shared a photo of the teen holding hands with the village's children on Thursday.
"Squad [heart] Rocco at Home of Hope In Michingi," she wrote.
It seems Madonna is having a blast bonding with her son again after months of living in different countries.
Rocco has spent most of this year living in the UK with his dad Guy Ritchie after a disagreement with Madonna in December.
In a new video, Madonna and her children Lola, Rocco, David and Mercy are seen in Kenya, helping out to clean up the slumbs of Kibera and to clear the water supply.
Madonna and her 4 children have secretly travelled to Kenya for a new Raising Malawi project. She revealed her visit by posting pictures of Kibera, known Africa's largest slumb.
People have to live there in terrible living conditions; one of Madonna's Instagram posts shows the horrible state of the local water supply.
Madonna visited Mama Sophie, who takes care of 14 children.
Today she had an audience with Margaret Kenyatta, the first lady of Kenya.
But where is all the press coverage now? Why are they only interested when they seem to find something wrong in one of her social media posts, not when she is doing humanitarian work?!↑ Back to top of page