Lady Gaga Gives Coachella Tribute To Cancer-Stricken Friend

Lady Gaga’s Coachella 2017 performance on Saturday featured a touching moment that tugged at the heartstrings of festival-going Little Monsters. Amid the Coachella set from the Super Bowl star, Lady Gaga dedicated Born This Way‘s “The Edge of Glory” to Sonja Durham, a friend of the artist’s who is battling cancer.

Gaga previously composed the Joanne bonus track “Grigio Girls” in honor of Durham, the Lady’s longtime confidant who is currently in the throes of stage IV cancer. During her headlining set for weekend two of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Lady Gaga informed the audience she wanted to shout-out Sonja with a solo performance of “The Edge of Glory,” a 2011 single from the singer and actress.

With an intimate piano backing, Lady Gaga delivered the Born The Way hit as a somber, but tasteful salute to her indisposed friend. “I’m sorry you don’t feel well,” Gaga intoned, halfway through the re-purposed song. “We all wish you were here with us.” Little Monsters in attendance at Lady Gaga’s Coachella set soon began posting clips of the touching tribute on social media, spurring renewed interest in the 2011 cut.

Lady Gaga performs during day 2 of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 22, 2017, in Indio, California.
Lady Gaga performs at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. [Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]

As reported by E! News, Lady Gaga’s Coachella tribute to Sonja Durham was preceded by nearly a decade of kinship between the “Poker Face” pop star and the longstanding friend. In fact, Sonja used to work as Lady Gaga’s assistant, and the two remain close companions. In March, Gaga was intimately involved in the planning of Durham’s wedding to Andre Dubois, of which the Super Bowl halftime superstar also attended.


At this weekend’s Coachella performance, the leading Lady of pop music minced no words in informing the throngs of concertgoers that her piano-driven version of “The Edge of Glory” would be utilized as a send-up to the sick sidekick. Lady Gaga (real name, Stefani Germanotta) told the audience that Sonja is “very sick” and that she would “like to sing this song for her,” before launching into the sober interpretation of the hit.

“My friend Sonja is very sick and I love her so much and if it’s okay with you, I’d like to sing this song for her.”

Lady Gaga performs during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017, in Houston, Texas.
Lady Gaga at her halftime show for Super Bowl LI in February. [Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]


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Upon closer inspection of Lady Gaga’s hit-filled music catalog, it is revealed that “The Edge of Glory ” was originally composed by the Coachella-headlining singer after the death of her grandfather. In an interview with India’s the Telegraph in 2011, the Lady spoke of the deep-seated meaning the song holds for her.

“I wrote that song about my grandpa when he passed away, and it means a lot to me. […] The song was about how when my grandma was standing over my grandfather while he was dying. There was this moment where I felt like he had sort of looked at her and reckoned that he had won in life. Like, ‘I’m a champion. We won. Our love made us a winner.'”

Lady Gaga’s lady friend Sonja Durham understands the importance of having the pop star’s power behind her. In a post written on Durham’s personal blog page, the former Gaga assistant called the singer her “guardian angel” and wrote about the monetary support provided to her by the fellow “Grigio Girl.”

“Honestly, if it wasn’t for Gaga and the financial contributions from everyone so far I really do not think I would be here. Let’s just say I understand why people give up and die because they do not have the resources that I have been given.”

Below, watch some footage of Lady Gaga performing at Coachella 2017.

Were you in attendance at this year’s Coachella festival? Did you watch a live stream of the Lady’s Coachella performances? Were you aware that the Joanne B-side “Grigio Girls” was written about Lady Gaga’s cancer-stricken friend? Let us know your thoughts on Lady Gaga and Coachella in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]