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Lady Gaga Read by HAYLEY KIYOKO

Stefani Germanotta, also known as Lady Gaga, is a musician, artist, and activist who has used her voice to create a revolution of love. From teaching herself to play piano at the age of three, to marching on Washington to demand equality for all genders, Lady Gaga has become not only a musical icon, but a leader in fashion and fearlessness.

Get to Know Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko has become one of the most celebrated pop artists since releasing 2018’s landmark debut album EXPECTATIONS, which according to Rolling Stone, placed her “at the forefront of an unapologetically queer pop movement.” In #20GAYTEEN, Kiyoko was nominated for two VMAs where she performed “Curious” and won Push Artist Of The Year. Since her 2015 debut, Hayley has amassed over 780 million global streams, over 2.1 million YouTube subscribers and has accrued over 730 million lifetime YouTube views, in addition to selling out numerous venues across the country and abroad on her previous headline tour. Lauded as one of “The 21st Century’s Most Influential Women Musicians” by NPR among other milestones, Hayley continues to impact and inspire her community. Through her honest storytelling and lyricism, she encourages hope as her resounding message, showcased on her collection of songs. Earlier this year, Hayley launched her gender-inclusive fragrance, “HUE,” available to order now at Most recently, the trailblazing pop star ushered in a new era with her powerful anthem of self-reliance, “Found My Friends,” and kicked off Pride month with the romantically hopeful new single “Chance” both available now alongside self-directed music videos shot on 16mm film.


Once upon a time… there was a girl who had big dreams and loved to make noise. Her name… is Stefani.

When Stefani was just three years old… she toddled over to a dusty piano, in her family’s crowded New York City apartment. She tried to prop herself up to reach the keys, but she was still too small. 

Oh well… Stefani didn’t care… 

She lifted her arms way above her head, as far as they would stretch, and just started banging away. The notes were low and loud. She felt like she was filling up the whole room with wild thunder. Stefani giggled, delighted with herself, as she kept reaching for more sounds, getting louder and louder…

Stefanie couldn’t have known it then but one day she would make music that woke people up — music that shook the world like thunder and made everyone listening feel loud, proud, connected to each other. 

She would become a MUSIC LEGEND! A legend known as… Lady Gaga.

I’m Hayley Kiyoko. And this is Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.

A fairy tale podcast about the rebel women who inspire us. 

On this episode, music icon and changemaker, Lady Gaga. 

When Stefani was young she spent so much of her life surrounded by music. When she wasn’t at the piano, practicing Bach and Chopin, she was holed up in her room, listening to rock n’ roll. Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen — she was obsessed. She memorized every beat and breath of their performances… She would dress up in her mom’s costume jewelry and sing as loud as she could! Her dad sometimes joined in or swooped her around the apartment in a sudden dance party.  

The music was inside her, pouring out bold and brassy…

One day, when Stefani was 13 years old, she went to her favorite little boutique near her family’s apartment. While she shopped, she sang to herself. She always did. She had no idea that anyone else could be listening. 

“You know, you have a very nice voice,” a young man said. 

“Oh! Thank you.” She was a little startled, but mostly, flattered.

“My uncle is a voice teacher. I’ll give you his number.”

When Stefani got home, she pulled out the telephone number and dialed. The teacher’s name was Don Lawrence. He told her he was very busy. He worked with famous rockstars like Mick Jagger, Bono, and Christina Aguilera. But he’d try to squeeze her into his schedule if she came and sang a song…

Stefani was terrified, but she went…

She picked a song that she knew well and belted it out as loud as she could, trying to ignore the trembling in her body. She felt really proud that she hit the highest note. 

When she was done, she looked at Don. He seemed to be still listening, absorbing all the sounds that she’d just created. And then slowly… he nodded. 

He believed in her. He wanted to hear more

It was Don Lawrence who asked Stefani just a few months later if she’d ever thought of writing her own songs.

“Um, I mean…,” she hesitated…

She had scraps of ideas — a few notes here and there that she’d jotted down, and some poetry that felt unfinished. But she’d never really put them together.

“I think you should do it,” said Don.

So a few weeks later, after an argument with her dad, Stefani grabbed a notebook and started writing down all of her feelings — anger, sorrow and longing. She just let the words tumble out of her onto the page. And as she did, she felt a melody growing and swelling inside of her, carrying all these emotions with it. 

By the time her dad came in to see what was going on, Stefani had written her very first song. It was called, “To Love Again.” 

By the time Stefani was fourteen, she was performing her own songs in nightclubs…BUT when she came offstage, Stefani had a hard time… 

She felt like singing gave her the courage and freedom that she wanted to share with the world, but Stefani also had to put up with a lot of bullying in school. 

One afternoon she was hanging out with some of her friends at a local pizzeria, and some boys she knew thought it’d be funny to pick her up and dump her in a trash can. All her friends started laughing. Stefani tried to laugh too, but inside she felt so humiliated. She pulled herself out of the muck and made her way back home, too ashamed to even tell her parents what had happened. 

She just took a shower, trying to scrub away the dirt and stink. But she couldn’t scrub away the hurt. 

This experience of getting tossed out like garbage stuck with Stefani for a long time. Somehow, she had to find a way to block out all the critics and instead, follow her gut. It was hard. 

“The most daring thing I did was believe in myself,” she says…

After the frenzy of high-school, Stefanie briefly went to college. But it wasn’t for her. She dropped out and found an apartment to rent by herself in downtown New York City. She took whatever jobs she could find.

But in her spare time, she was writing music and poring over books about visual arts and music history. 

Her dad helped pay her rent for a few months, but then he said, “I’ll give you exactly one year to make this career work. If you can’t do it, then you have to go back to school.” 

Stefanie HAD to make it work. But as she sang away behind the piano in clubs around New York – she realized something…

Stefani wanted to get out from behind the piano. She wanted to move across the stage and make her shows a theatrical experience. She wanted to draw people into her music, to be wildly confident and bright. So she changed her hair, her dress, her style. She even changed her name…

When Stefani was 19 years old, she decided she’d be known as Lady Gaga, a nickname she’d had for years…with a little added flair. 

…As she stepped onstage to announce her new identity, she looked totally transformed. Her long, dark hair was now dyed platinum blond. A blue lightning bolt was painted across her right cheek. She wore a sequined bodysuit and held a disco ball in her hands as she launched into her first song while she shimmied and spun. The audience was mesmerized by her every move. 

She had channeled all of her energy and passion for music and performance and became her very own superhero!

Lady Gaga released her first studio album in 2008. It was called “The Fame. A lot of the lyrics were about finding your identity and feeling strong in your skin. 

The album was a huge success and catapulted her into pop superstardom. Gaga was sharing her new freedom and strength with the world and the world loved it. 

Her performances quickly became legendary. She took up the entire stage as she sang, beaming with joy and dancing in fabulous, flashy costumes that seemed to defy gravity

One time she came out in a dress made entirely of large pink bubbles and played a piano that was translucent and filled with giant bubbles too! Another time, she wore a leather body suit covered in studs that shot fire out of her top — while she was still singing!

As she toured the globe in her fantastical costumes, Gaga felt the energy and momentum of the crowds. And…she started using her voice to make political statements too… 

In 2009 Gaga went to Washington, D.C. to be part of the National Equality March. This march was in honor of all LGBTQIA+ Americans who wanted to be treated equally. 

“ARE YOU LISTENING?” Gaga screamed at a rally. “We will continue to push your administration to bring your promise to reality.”

The following year, she went to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards with four members of the U.S. military who’d been discharged or resigned because they felt discriminated against for being queer. Gaga wore a dress, hat, boots, and purse made of raw meat as a way to show her anger about the military’s anti-LGBTQIA+ policies. 

“If we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones,” she told the press. 

With camera flashes going off all around her, she stood tall and smiled, dripping in raw meat and loving every second of the world’s shocked responses. 

The fight for the rights of all people — especially the LGBTQIA+ community — has become a big part of Gaga’s mission. And her music. 

In 2011, she wrote and recorded a song that was quickly called “the new gay anthem.” 

Its name was “Born This Way” and it was a celebration of everybody’s uniqueness and strength. Gaga says she wrote that song in 10 minutes because it was so important to her, it just flowed out of her. It’s a message of universal love and acceptance that she needed to put to music.

“Born This Way” wasn’t just about gender identity though. Gaga also sang about different ethnicities, races, and religions. She gave everyone hearing the song a reason to love themselves and believe in their beauty inside and out. 

As Gaga sings and dances, marches for human rights and even stars in blockbuster movies, she is always focussed on how she can use her fame to help others in need. 

She and her mom have created the Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit helping young people talk about mental illness and “empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.” Gaga believes that mental illness is a worldwide crisis and that we can only heal through honesty, acceptance, and kindness. 

She openly talks about her own struggles with depression, rejection, mental and physical illness. She talks about the importance of therapy, medication and self-love. 

And she talks about that little girl she once was, barely tall enough to get her fingers on the piano keys, banging away, so happy to make some noise.

And when people told her she was too loud or too bold, or threw her in a garbage can, she got back up and just got louder…

And Rebels… SO. CAN. YOU.