Madonna Shares Exclusive Pictures of Her Children on Tour

Madonna has been clear from the beginning that The Celebration Tour is no mere “greatest hits” circuit. It’s more like an artist’s MoMA retrospective blown up into an arena tour showcasing her singular contributions to the culture. It’s also the Queen of Pop’s most deeply personal tour yet, paying tribute to her influences, mentors, parents, and the friends and collaborators she’s lost. Nowhere is that personal touch more apparent than the inclusion of four of her children in the show. Across 78 performances so far, Madonna has worked double-duty as mom with son David and daughters Mercy, Stella, and Estere along for the ride—each one getting their own moment on stage. Mercy accompanies her mother on piano during “Bad Girl,” while David duets with his mom on “Mother and Father” (which, apparently, required the young musician to work up a bit of confidence to do). Twins Stella and Estere meanwhile, show off their dance skills during “Don’t Tell Me” and a segment dedicated to ballroom.

Ahead of her final arena dates in Mexico and a historic (potentially record-breaking) free show in Rio de Janeiro, Madonna sat down to answer questions over e-mail about life on the road with her children.

Madonna with Estere and David.

Ricardo Gomes

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Ricardo Gomes

Rocco performed on stage during MDNA, and Lola worked in the wardrobe department on that same tour. Your children always seem to be involved in some capacity with your work. How does that feel as a mother?

I have always been blessed with children who are interested in music dance, and art. Starting from the top with Lola, who was not only an incredible ballet dancer and a rhythmic gymnast, she also switches to musical theater and contemporary dance.

How did the idea of including your children on this tour come to be?

When I go on tour, nothing brings me more happiness than to know we are all working on the same show, creating the magic together. It would be boring if they were just traveling from hotel to hotel, and occasionally coming to watch the show. Of course, I am their mother so sometimes we get on each other’s nerves. We are a family of artists but we are also a family, and that’s what happens.

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Estere during dance practice.

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Madonna, Mercy, and her piano teacher Ric’Key Pageot.

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It seems like your children have been honing their talents for years. How important is it for you as a mother to make sure they take their art seriously?

Because The Celebration Tour is a retrospective of my life, I thought it made perfect sense to include all of my children still living with me in the show; they all dance and play musical instruments, and have been doing so for years. David has played guitar since he was a child. Mercy has played piano since she was eight and she’s been classically trained most of her life. Eventually, when I adopted the twins, they started to play piano and dance as well. There is always an endless parade of dancing and teachers coming and going in our house. And then we add to that DJ’ing, as Estere showed a keen interest in learning. She started taking DJ lessons and took it very seriously.

Madonna and Mercy onstage performing “Bad Girl.”

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Each of the children has their own moment in the show. Mercy James playing piano during “Bad Girl” was a highlight. Any back story on how that all came together?

I saw a strange, poetic juxtaposition of hedonism and exploration emerging into the light of Mercy, sitting stoically at her grand piano playing Chopin as she beckoned me towards her, making me think about the choices I have made in my life. Singing “Bad Girl” was kind of my confession to her, and I felt we had an unspoken understanding of what was happening.

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Stella dancing during “Don’t Tell Me.”

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Ricardo Gomes

Stella performs in “Don’t Tell Me,” which is a big number during the show. How was she with learning the choreography?

Stella, who I would say is my shyest child, comes alive on stage, and I love having her as my little cowgirl. But she also happens to be an incredible fine artist, and I’m hoping that she follows in the footsteps of Rocco who, after being a B-boy, skater, and graffiti artist, has really come into his own as an incredible painter.

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David and Madonna performing onstage.

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David during the show’s finale.

Ricardo Gomes

David singing a verse during “Mother and Father” was fantastic. Has he expressed any interest in following in your footsteps with a musical career? He had originally only played guitar at the beginning of the tour. Did it take some convincing to get him to sing?

“Mother and Father” is one of my favorite moments in the show because it gave me a chance to not only honor my mother and her memory but also to honor David’s mother and her memory. He has always wanted to sing and play guitar. He loves being on stage—this is nothing new. Much of the show is about motherhood, family, and the importance of that in my artistic life.

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Estere showing off her moves.

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Estere, backstage in a “Britney Spears” t-shirt.

Ricardo Gomes

How did Estere get so into ballroom? Does she have any vogue mentors (aside from you)?

While Estere was learning how to DJ, she became interested in ballroom competitions. Just by luck, one of my choreographer’s assistants, Ivy Mugler, has her own ballroom house called House of Mugler. She started taking Estere aside during rehearsals to another room—and within a couple of weeks she was doing death drops and spins and surprising us with her ability. So, of course we had to turn that section of the show into Estere’s Ball.

Because this tour is a celebration of your entire career, did you kids learn or realize anything new about you?

I think what my children learned the most in this year of rehearsing and performing is that if you want to follow your dreams, you have to work hard for them. And if all of them choose something different later in life, they will never forget this year of blood, sweat, and tears.

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David, Stella, Mercy and Estere.

Ricardo Gomes

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Ricardo Gomes

The tour just wrapped up its U.S. dates. With five shows in Mexico City coming up and the huge free concert in Rio, what’s going through your mind right now?

This show was created for an indoor arena. Transforming and adapting it to perform outdoors on the beach with no roof in Rio is going to be quite an undertaking and full of surprises. God willing, we will pull it off, and it will be an experience they will never forget.

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