Madonna has reinvented herself countless times throughout her legendary career, but her newest persona — Madame X — may be the first of hers that's purposefully mysterious.
The 60-year-old superstar opened up to TODAY's Harry Smith about the inspiration for the complex character behind her new "Madame X" album — and why she wears that beguiling eye patch.
"She's a spy. She's a secret agent. She travels the world. She changes her identity. She sleeps with one eye open. And she travels through the day with one eye shut. She's actually been wounded. So she's covering up one of her eyes," the Grammy winner explained.
To create the new identity, Madonna mined her past. It was her old dance teacher, Martha Graham, who first nicknamed her Madame X when she was 19 — so frustrated was Graham that she could never "identify" who Madonna was.
"I felt the same way, in that moment, recording. So once I decided the name of my record was gonna be called 'Madame X', I I had to create a story that was sort of the beginning of Madame X's journey," she shared.
The album's songs explore feelings of vulnerability, but also of fierce strength.
"I have my days where I feel like a warrior and invincible. And I have my days where I feel like an open wound. But that's human, isn't it?" she asked. "And also, I think that's the journey of an artist."
Though she juggles music and motherhood — Madonna is mom to six children — she says her creative juices never stop churning.
"Even being a mother requires creativity," she shared. "Even making the bed requires creativity."
As for her romantic life, Madonna was more coy. Is she in love? "I am," she replied.
But asked to elaborate, the singer laughed teasingly — just as mysterious Madame X would.
"None of your business," she said.
"Madame X" is available to music lovers Friday.