Initially, the 49-year-old Material Girl was hesitant about the tribute that will see her career honoured alongside fellow 2008 inductees such as Canadian Leonard Cohen.
'I heard about it and I kind of felt ambivalent, like, 'What is that, the place they put musical dinosaurs?'' Madonna told reporters from around the globe yesterday, including Sun Media in a Canadian print exclusive. She has just started promoting her new hip-hop and R&B-drenched dance album, Hard Candy, due in stores April 29.
'I didn't really know what to think of it,' she said, 'but then lots of people explained to me that it's an acknowledgement of singers and songwriters who have made a contribution in the world of music for 25 years, and so eventually I came around to the idea that it was flattering.'
And she's pleased that she will be inducted by one of her Hard Candy collaborators, Justin Timberlake, who co-wrote many of the songs and sings on the new album, including the Timbaland-produced first single, Four Minutes. Timberlake also appears in the video alongside her as two superheroes trying to save the world.
'It was Justin who offered and kind of surprised me, when we were shooting the video - he said he wanted to be the person to induct me, so to speak, so I said, 'Okay,'' said Madonna, who added how the rest of the induction evening will unfold is up in the air.
'It's supposed to be a surprise for me - somebody sings one of my songs,' she said before adding, 'Yikes! No, I'm just kidding. I don't know.'
The Material Girl - dressed in a snug-fitting, low-cut black top, black pants and large yellow hoop earrings and yellow high heels - entered a small conference room at a Beverly Hills hotel late yesterday afternoon and uttered a quiet 'hi' before being seated. And for the next 35 minutes, she proved to be a challenging, if funny and thoughtful, interview subject.
For example, if she didn't like a question - such as the one about how her views on life and music had changed in her 20s, 30s, 40s - she'd take a pass.
'That's like a gigantic question - I'm not answering that question, be more specific,' Madonna said, before getting the journalist to narrow it down to music. 'We'll be here for six hours if you want to know how my views on life have changed over the past 30 years.'
One popular topic was of her turning 50 on August 16, which seemed to be a much bigger deal for reporters than Madonna herself.
'It's not a bad word, you can say it,' she said when one reporter whispered '5-0.'
And when the same reporter asked her about reaching 'a landmark for a lady,' she made the journalist clarify that to it's 'a landmark for everybody.'
She said she doesn't see turning 50 as a milestone.
'No, but everybody else keeps mentioning it,' she said. 'I see it as another excuse to have a birthday party.'
In fact, Madonna said physically, 'I feel stronger now than, maybe, 20 years ago - but I think your physicality is connected to your consciousness so if your mind is strong, your body will be strong.'
She also bristled when asked how much longer she wants to make music.
'I haven't the slightest idea, everyone wants to know the numbers,' Madonna said.
Speaking of which, Hard Candy will be her final studio record with Warner after a 26-year relationship. But she says it's neither scary nor liberating to leave.
Her new, reported $120-million deal with Live Nation includes albums, touring and merchandising.
'It's just the end of my contract and the record industry is changing. And so the way that I make music and the way that I get it out to the people and the way that we market it and release it will also have to change,' she said. 'I'm excited about my new deal because it's more of a partnership, and after 25 years I feel like I deserve to be a partner.'
From CANOE/JAM! By Jane Stevenson