Madonna sent the following message to Raising Malawi supporters today:
I have always believed love conquers all - yesterday I got to see it in action.
In the last week over 30,000 of you added your name to mine calling for the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga - the Malawi couple sentenced to 14 years hard labor for the "crime" of homosexuality. With incredible joy, I am writing to share with you that Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has ordered their release. Steven and Tiwonge were freed on Saturday night.
They have won their freedom and you have been a part of it.
We celebrate this astounding turn of events with Steven, Tiwonge, and the countless Malawians fighting for their release. It is a historic day for Malawi.
Though they are free from prison, sadly their safety and future in Malawi is still unknown. I hope this is just the beginning of our work together.
Human rights injustices continue for so many Malawians facing poverty, disease, and a lack of critical resources. There are still over two million orphans and vulnerable children who need to experience love's embrace.
It is going to take the love and creativity of all of us to bring justice to the people of Malawi.
Share your thoughts on this important day in Malawi: http://www.raisingmalawi.org/lovewins. Thank you for joining me in Raising Malawi.
With great love,
Malawi's president on Saturday pardoned a gay couple who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered their release but insisted that homosexuality was still illegal in his conservative southern African nation.
President Bingu wa Mutharika announced the pardon on "humanitarian grounds only" during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Lilongwe, the capital.
"These boys committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws," Mutharika said. "However, as head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore order their immediate release without any conditions."
But he added, "We don't condone marriages of this nature. It's unheard of in Malawi and it's illegal."
Malawi had faced international condemnation for the conviction and harsh sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, who were arrested in December, a day after celebrating their engagement.
After the pardon, activists were searching for a safe house for the couple, fearing they could be attacked upon release.
Ban praised Mutharika's decision but said "laws that criminalize sexuality should be repealed."
In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also praised the move, urging an end to "the persecution and criminalization" of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Earlier this week, the top U.N. AIDS official and the head of an international donor organization met with Mutharika and expressed concern that criminalizing homosexuality would keep a vulnerable group from seeking AIDS treatment.
Joseph Amon of Human Rights Watch said the president was responding to the international outcry.
"I hope that other leaders of African countries with anti-gay laws see that this is just not acceptable in the international community," Amon told The Associated Press by telephone from New York.
Malawi is among 37 African countries with anti-gay laws.
Christina Aguilera has confirmed that her latest video features several deliberate references to Madonna.
The singer, who took to the stage with Madonna and Britney Spears for a notorious performance at the 2003 VMAs, used her 'Not Myself Tonight' clip to salute the pop queen's legacy.
"One of my favourite videos ever is Express Yourself by Madonna which came across as really strong and empowering which I always try to incorporate through my expression of sexuality," Aguilera said.
"I love the direct reference I made to Madonna with the eye glass moment and the smoke and stairs. I was paying tribute to a very strong woman who has paved the way before."
'Not Myself Tonight', the lead single from Aguilera's upcoming album Bionic, is available to download now.
The exclusive collection of MDG sun glasses is now available in the MDG online store. The stylish shades, now available in the first six styles, were designed by Madonna and her designer friends Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
"Designing an eyewear line with Madonna was a new experience for us. The oversized and wraparound designs are sexy and very feminine, like our clothes. Madonna's creative contribution and unique point of view were key, even in designing the MDG logo" remarked the Italian designer duo.
Shot in New York by Steven Klein and under art direction of Fabien Baron, the ad campaign features Madonna as the mysterious and sensual star of a noir film caught on camera in the company of an intriguing man played by super model Tyson Ballou.
To lend a cinematographic feel, the campaign was shot with a video camera and the snapshots appear as frames of a short film while the layout of the prints recalls that of an old-fashioned movie film. The voyeuristic images metaphorically evoke the essence of a star such as Madonna: admired, spied, adored, pursued and desired, but never fully revealed, shrouded as she is in dark glasses and mystery. Check out the collection and the video here.
Madonna has issued a statement condemning the decision by a Malawi court to sentence gay couple Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga to 14 years in prison for "gross indecency" and "unnatural acts" for having an engagement ceremony last year.
Many have been calling on the singer to issue a statement. She has adopted two children from Malawi and is building an orphanage there.
"I am shocked and saddened by the decision made today by the Malawian court, which sentenced two innocent men to prison. As a matter of principle, I believe in equal rights for all people, no matter what their gender, race, color, religion, or sexual orientation. Today, Malawi took a giant step backward.
The world is filled with pain and suffering; therefore, we must support our basic human right to love and be loved. I call upon the progressive men and women of Malawi — and around the world — to challenge this decision in the name of human dignity and equal rights for all."
~ Add your name to Madonna's petition at RaisingMalawi and spread the word via e-mail & Facebook!
15 years ago today, on May 19th 1995, the fourth video from the Bedtime Stories project premiered, Human Nature. Directed by French Madonna-veteran Jean-Baptiste Mondino, set in a simple but effective all-white box concept, is one of the very few Madonna videos from the 90s with an actual choreography.
Madonna is flanked by some of her Girlie Show dancers and Chiquita, her own Chihuahua dog at the time, they are all dressed in latex S&M outfits. But unlike the Erotica video, Human Nature is a sarcastic piece and is meant to enhance the lyrics about Madonna fighting back to the critics, possibly being her most defensive song ever.
The Dave Hall-produced track itself was the final single from the album, but after the damage caused by Bedtime Story it didn't have a chance to become a proper hit, and although it did make a slightly bigger impact than its predecessor, it still failed to crack the Billboard top 40, also hindered by the staggered and delayed release dates of the single.
Nonetheless, it was arguably the most trendy song of the album with its hip hop sample by Main Source and the syncopated urban beat, not to mention Madonna's own vocals that recall T-Boz from the mega-successful girl group TLC, although one could argue that Survival with its similar subject matter would have been a better single choice.
The explicit lyrics were removed from the radio version which got included on Madonna's 2001 compilation album GHV2, but the single was surprisingly snubbed from the career-spanning Celebration. On the other hand, the VMA-nominated video made its way to both the Video Collection 93:99 and the Celebration Video Collection.
Most likely a personal favourite of Madonna, Human Nature has the distinction of being the only Bedtime Stories song that was performed twice on tour. The Drowned World Tour rendition stayed close to the orignal version and the video choreography with some bullriding thrown in.
The 2008-2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour had it prominently performed as the 3rd song in a polarizing pimp-rock version where Madonna gave a nod to rockstar Slash, with Britney Spears and her song "Gimme More" making a cameo as Madonna made it clear that one and half a decade later, she still has no regrets.
Madonna dons an eyepatch, brass knuckle and a lace glove in this new photo shoot for the May 2010 issue of Interview Magazine, as captured by photog duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. The 51-year-old Material mom was interviewed by director Gus Van Sant about his film Milk, her early career and her involvement in Malawi. Madonna is also on the cover of the mag, with what looks like a red cross across her face. Crucifix?
~ Interview Magazine has added a preview on their website, including part of the interview, a video behind the scenes of the photoshoot and some of the gorgeous pictures that remind us of a fierce 80s Madonna.
While most of the interview discusses films (including Madonna's work on W.E., which she'll be filming this summer), Madonna makes an interesting comment on the music industry which sheds a different light on her Live Nation deal:
VAN SANT: Now the music industry is sort of like a Craigslist venture, right? Where you're making your own records and selling them online.
MADONNA: Yeah. It's weird-that's exactly what's going on. I don't have a record deal right now with anybody. I don't know how I'm going to get my music out the next time I make a record.
VAN SANT: You have to rethink how to do it.
MADONNA: I'm going to have to reinvent the wheel. I haven't really been focused as much as I should be on the music part of my career because this movie has just consumed every inch of me. Between that and my four children, I don't have the time or the energy for anything else. For example, I do appreciate that lots of people worked long and hard putting together things like the DVD of the Sticky & Sweet tour that we just released, and I have seen the finished product, but I have got no idea how people are going to find out about it or how it's going to be sold.
VAN SANT: They'll find it. [laughs]
MADONNA: Hopefully. I think I have a fan club- well, that's what they say.
Madonna's former assistant is pleading with fans to shun a sale of memorabilia on eBay.com - after she lost the items when she fell behind on storage payments.
Melissa Crow, who used to work for the Material Girl, was storing the items - including photos of the superstar and a Polaroid picture of her holding a genitalia-shaped water pistol - at a facility in Chatsworth, California.
But Crow allegedly lost the rights to the goods when she fell behind on her monthly payments at the storage unit, according to the owner of the site.
An unknown bidder bought the items for just $150 (£100) at a blind auction on Sunday (25Apr10) and he's now selling them on eBay, reports TMZ.com.
And Crow has taken to several Madonna internet blogs to urge fans not to purchase the keepsakes.
The memorabilia also includes 17 journals, which Madonna allegedly wrote between 1988 and 1992, priced at $2.5 million (£1.6 million) - but Madonna's representative tells TMZ they are fake.
With "Glee: the Music, the Power of Madonna" at No. 1 on this week's Billboard 200 and her own Celebration album receiving a boost, re-entering at No. 86, it's gotten me thinking about Madonna's best-selling digital songs.
Could you please provide totals for her five best-selling tracks since 2005 (when digital sales began contributing to the Billboard Hot 100) and her 10 best-selling hits before then? That way, no newer tracks (i.e., 4 Minutes or Hung Up) that fans had the chance to purchase from the time of their release "unfairly" rank above older songs.
Also, what are Madonna's overall digital songs sales?
Thank you and keep up the good work,
The spotlight on Madonna has certainly benefitted both "Glee" and the Queen of Pop. Make sure to check our Billboard cover story on the show, as well.
I, like millions of other viewers, thought that the "Glee" cast did a great job covering Madonna's catalog. Two personal favorite highlights from the April 20 episode: Lea Michele and Cory Monteith's walk-and-sing mash-up of Borderline and Open Your Heart - complete with Madonna look-alikes of various eras in the background - and Amber Riley's powerful solo on Like A Prayer.
As requested, here is a look at the digital sales to-date, according to Nielsen SoundScan through the week ending April 25, of Sue Sylvester's musical hero:
Top-Selling Madonna Titles Released Since 2005:
2,751,000, 4 Minutes
1,200,000, Hung Up
316,000, Give It 2 Me
Top-Selling Madonna Titles Released Before 2005:
443,000, Like A Prayer
322,000, Material Girl
293,000, Ray Of Light
240,000, Like A Virgin
211,000, Crazy For You
189,000, Santa Baby
184,000, Die Another Day
Madonna has sold 11.6 million digital songs to date.