As the first female singer to ever have four consecutive top-five singles come off one album, Cyndi Lauper showed that girls actually wanted to have more than fun... they also wanted success. And that's exactly what she had with She's So Unusual, her 1983 debut that sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Prior to its release, the New York native had fronted a number of cover bands and blew out her vocal cords in 1977. Doctors said she'd never sing again, but, with the help of a vocal coach, Cyndi learned proper techniques and regained her four-octave range.
Lauper teamed up with John Turi in 1978 for a short-lived band called Blue Angel. The group got signed to Polydor Records on the strength of her pitch-perfect voice and even released one record in 1980 that, as Cyndi put it, "went lead."
A year later, she got herself a deal with Epic Records. Rick Chertoff, Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman were brought in to collaborate on Lauper's debut. Although the label had little confidence in her songwriting ability, she noodled her way in there, making the songs her own and co-writing the number one smash, “Time after Time” with Hyman. Other hits from the album were "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," “She Bop,” and “All through the Night.”
After a full year or more of touring and MTV fame, Lauper contributed to 1985's “We are the World” alongside Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and numerous other musical legends. Cyndi was charged with singing the soprano-range climax of the bridge. That year also brought her a Best New Artist Grammy.
Solidifying her position in '80s pop culture, Steven Spielberg recruited Lauper to select the music for The Goonies. Along with choosing songs from bands like The Bangles, she contributed "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough."
Lauper's second release, True Colors, dropped in 1986 and climbed to number four on the Billboard album charts. The title track, along with “Change of Heart” and a cover of “What's Going On,” charted, as well, though the album's overall success failed to equal that of its predecessor as it sold only 12 million units globally.
The record was followed by a concert film, Cyndi: Live in Paris, and her first foray into acting with Vibes, starring Jeff Goldblum and Julian Sands. Her third album came in 1989. A Night to Remember spawned only one hit, "I Drove All Night."
On July 21, 1990, Cyndi joined an impeccable cast including Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Paul Carrack and Van Morrison and led by Roger Waters to perform The Wall in Berlin. That same year, she also participated in a John Lennon tribute in Liverpool due to her friendship with Yoko Ono.
Venturing back into the world of cinema, Lauper appeared in Off and Running with David Keith, Richard Belzer, and her future husband, David Thornton. At their 1991 wedding, Little Richard officiated while Patti LaBelle sang “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”
For her 1993 effort, Hat Full of Stars, Cyndi got serious and penned songs dealing with issues near and dear to her, such as homophobia, racism, and spousal abuse. The album failed to rack up any significant sales. The greatest hits collection Twelve Deadly Cyns...and Then Some followed in 1995.
Next up was 1997's Sisters of Avalon which also failed to make a dent in the U.S. except for among the gay dance club set. With songs about drag queens and lesbian relationships, the album also ushered Cyndi into the limelight as a gay rights activist, a role she tributes to her sister Ellen's coming out as gay.
In late 1998, Lauper released Merry Christmas...Have A Nice Life. Tours with Tina Turner and Cher proved successful, as did her ever-burgeoning acting career. Having won an Emmy for her role on Mad About You, Cyndi made well-received appearances on The Simpsons and in two indie films, Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle and The Opportunists.
Lauper's 2001 effort, Shine, had to be scrapped when her label folded and some of the material was leaked via the Internet. So, she re-upped with Epic Records and issued a second greatest hits set, The Essential Cyndi Lauper, in 2003. That was followed by 2005's The Body Acoustic, a collection of acoustic renderings of her earlier works.
More acting jobs came, as well, including a 2006 stint on Broadway in The Threepenny Opera. In 2007, she embarked on the True Colors Tour for Human Rights with Deborah Harry, the Dresden Dolls, Erasure, and Margaret Cho in tow.
Bring Ya to the Brink came in 2008 and was her first collection of new material since 1997. Stylistically, the record focused on dance tunes penned in collaboration with European dance artists like Basement Jaxx, Dragonette, Digital Dog, Kleerup, and The Scumfrog. Another True Colors Tour set out, this time with Indigo Girls, The B-52s, Joan Jett, Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, Joan Armatrading, Rosie O'Donnell, Wanda Sykes, and more.
For 2009 and 2010, Cyndi dabbled in a number of acting and activist projects before competing against folks like Bret Michaels and Sharon Osbourne on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice. She also recorded and released a new set of soul-based songs called Memphis Blues. It's her 11th album.