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QueensLine: Ozone Park native Lauper left lasting mark on music scene

On June 22, 1953, Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper was born in Brooklyn, but her family soon moved to Ozone Park. Although she attended Richmond Hill High School, Cyndi Lauper dropped out to pursue a career in music. She sang in dance cover bands in the 1970s and was gifted with a voice that had a range of four octaves.

Tragically, she nearly lost her voice in 1977 and doctors told her she would never sing again. That setback hardly stopped her and Lauper started writing music.

“I am always inspired by what I see every time when I step outside my door,” she once said. “The world is filled with fascinating people struggling and surviving and living their lives the best way they can. The more I see, the more I write down. For me, the words become my views of life and my poetry.”

Lauper’s debut album, “She’s So Unusual,” made her one of the biggest stars of the early MTV era, selling 5 million copies, including major hits like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “Time After Time.”

Her girlish voice and delightful ragtag appearance became one of the most memorable images of the early 1980s. Wild hair that changed colors often and her offbeat fashion sense helped popularize punk and new wave music in America, making them acceptable parts of the pop landscape.

Lauper never lost her trademark Queens accent: “You can laugh when I talk, but not when I sing. People used to throw rocks at me for my clothes … now they wanna know where I buy them!”

In 1985, Lauper won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and became the first artist in history to have five top-10 singles from a debut album. Since then, she has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards, two American Music Awards, seven American Video Awards and 18 MTV Awards.

Lauper has appeared in motion pictures, on Broadway and in television; voiced animated projects for Disney and “The Simpsons”; scored soundtracks; and directed music videos.

Lauper is known for her work with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest organization working for equality in sexual orientation.

“It’s an honor to always have the genuine affection of the gay community,” Lauper said. “They have never turned their back on me. I will never turn my back on them. We’ve had a long and enduring love affair.”

Notable quote: “You always have to remember — no matter what you’re told — that God loves all the flowers, even the wild ones that grow on the side of the highway. You can’t stamp out individuality — there’s too many of us.”

The Greater Astoria Historical Society is open to the public Wednesdays 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 5 p.m. at Quinn’s Gallery, Fourth Floor, 35-20 Broadway in Long Island City.

For more information, call 718-278-0700 or visit astorialic.org.

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