Pop star Lady Gaga announced April 1 that she is in talks with Moundsville city council to perform a 4th of July concert on top of the town’s famous 69-foot-high mound.
“I’m excited to sing songs from a place that’s shared by so many in American history,” said the singer. “And Independence Day is about celebrating how America is a land shared by so many free people over time, from the Adena People 2,000 years ago to today.”
Gaga’s mother Cynthia grew up in Glen Dale, next to Moundsville, and the superstar, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, still makes pilgrimages to the land of her ancestors, who celebrate her 12 Grammys and outfits made from plastic bubbles, Kermit the frog costumes and meat.
It was Lady Gaga’s recent viewing of the PBS film Moundsville that sparked the idea of putting on a show in the town. “The movie is a superb and sensitive oral history of a quintessential American industrial town, but it’s got no Gaga,” she said. “What were the filmmakers thinking?”
The Grave Creek Mound was “discovered” by white settlers in the early 19th century. Townspeople built a saloon on top. Then it became a museum. In the 20th century, the town put a Christmas tree on top of the mound. Inmates from the prison across the street decorated it with bulbs. You could see the tree across the river. Now it’s part of the West Virginia state archeological complex. The Christmas tree has been dropped as a measure of respect to Native Americans.
Naturally, Lady Gaga, who turned 35 this week, is concerned that her fans might think the plan sacrilegious. “I understand the sacred,” she said. “I went to Catholic school. My music, my approach to life, it’s all about the sacramental. Gaga’s mission is the sacred. And what’s more sacred than a mound?”
John W. Miller