Madonna has spoken about her decision to move her family from America to Lisbon, Portugal for the first time in a new World Exclusive interview for Vogue Italia.
The 59-year-old posed for a series of shots for photographer Mert & Marcus as did her daily chores and portrayed her in the company of her four children.
She said: ‘My son David, who is going to be 13 on September 24, has wanted to play soccer professionally for years.
‘I’ve been desperate to get him into the best academies with the best coaches, but the level of football in America is much lower than the rest of the world.
‘I saw his frustration, and I also felt it was a good time. I felt like we needed a change, and I wanted to get out of America for a minute – as you know, this is not America’s finest hour.
Madonna, who turns 60 on August 16, has been living in Lisbon for the past year with four of her six children – David Banda, 12, Mercy James, 12, and the twins Stella and Esther, 5.
Talking about her decision to move to Lisbon, she said: ‘It was actually between three different cities that had soccer academies.
‘And I thought, let me see if I could live somewhere else for a year and put my four youngest kids in a different environment, as I think it’s also important to expose them to different cultures and living in different places.
‘So, it was between Turin, Barcelona, and Benfica in Lisbon. I went to all those places and tried to imagine myself living there. Of course, Barcelona is a super fun city, and I like Turin as well, but Turin is not really a city for children.
‘So I went to Lisbon, and it seemed the best all-around choice. (…) [Portugal is] steeped in history, and the Portuguese empire has made its dent on the world.
‘And then on top of all of that, one of my favourite things to do in the whole world is to ride horses. I live in Lisbon, in Lapa, but when I go horse-riding I go to Comporta, I go to friend’s houses, I go to Alcácer.
‘There are lots different areas outside of Lisbon to ride. Whenever my son doesn’t have a soccer match on Sunday, then that becomes an adventure day, and we would pick a place to go riding.’
In the Vogue Italia interview, Madonna explains how her experience in Lisbon has been a source of inspiration for her upcoming album.
‘I always say three f’s rule Portugal: fado, football and Fatima. It’s also a very Catholic country, which suits me just fine.
‘It reminds me of Cuba in the way that people don’t have a lot, but you can open the door to anyone’s house, go on the street corner, and you’re always going to hear music. (…) You’ll always hear lots of fado and lots of kuduro music from Angola.
A lot of jazz also – old school jazz, which is pretty cool. I’ve just met lots of really amazing musicians, and I’ve ended up working with a lot of these musicians on my new record, so Lisbon has influenced my music and my work. How could it not?
‘I don’t see how I could have gone through that year without being informed by all this input of culture.’
Madonna said that life has not all been plain-sailing and she, as well as her children, have made sacrifices along the way.
She said: ‘Any woman who is a soccer mom could say it kind of requires you to have no life in a way, because things change from week to week and games change from weekend to weekend – sometimes they’re in the city, sometimes they’re not, and we would never know until Thursday night whether they’re on Saturday or Sunday, if at twelve o’clock or later.
‘It’s impossible to make plans, and then you feel like you’re not being fair to your other kids, or being fair to me!’.
‘Instead, it’s fun, it’s interactive. Especially with Stella and Esther, who were in an orphanage for four years; they’re so happy to join in, to help out, to be part of something whether it’s a small or a large group, to be the leaders. They’re extremely resilient and full of life and joy.
‘They’re very open, and because of my work and travelling around the world, the things that I do and the places I find myself in, my children are very open-minded about everything, and I’m very proud of that.
A lot of people say to me, “You must really want your son to be a successful soccer player, your oldest daughter [Lourdes] to be a dancer, Rocco to be a painter.”
‘And I always say no, what I want my children to be is loving, compassionate, responsible human beings. That’s all I want. I don’t care what the vehicle is, I just want them to be good human beings that treat other human beings with dignity and respect, regardless of skin colour, religion, gender.
‘This is the most important thing, you know what I mean? If they happen to be the next Picasso or Cristiano Ronaldo, then great, that’s just the cherry on the cake.’
Madonna goes on to tell Vogue Italia about Malawi, where in 2006 she founded the charity organization Raising Malawi to help local children orphaned by AIDS, and where she met and adopted her son David and her daughter Mercy James.
Last year she opened the first children’s hospital in the country, the Mercy James Pediatric Hospital, named after her daughter, which she will be visiting soon for the first anniversary.
She continued: ‘The idea is not to bring people in from the outside but to educate and train Malawians who want to be doctors, who want to be surgeons, to want to be nurses – then the country truly becomes self-sustainable, and the people have pride in themselves.