Madonna Speaks Onstage About That One Time She Forcefully Told God “No” While in the Throes of a Near-Death Experience

The performer gave a spontaneous nine-minute speech last night in L.A. that ran the gamut.

Madonna onstage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Last summer, Madonna was very, very sick, and detailed her near-death experience while onstage in L.A. last night. During the opening show of a five-night run at L.A.’s Kia Forum, the performer thanked the doctors and other medical personnel who were in the audience and who helped her during and after the days she spent in an induced coma, Variety reports. As she did so, she launched into an impromptu nine-minute speech, preceding a version of “Express Yourself” that she played solo on an acoustic guitar.

“It was a strange feeling to finally not feel like I was in control,” she told the crowd of being sidelined by a bacterial infection that landed her in the ICU last June. Madonna revealed that she had a near-death experience, “although she didn’t directly recall a divine presence, only inferred it from what she said after first waking up about being put into a deep sleep to relieve the crisis,” Variety writes. 

Opening Night of Madonna: The Celebration Tour - London

Despite her near-death experience last summer, The Celebration Tour was only delayed by three months

(Image credit: Getty)

“I have fallen off a lot of horses and broken a lot of bones,” Madonna said, leading into the story of her NDE. “I have a titanium hip. I mean, the list goes on and on, but nothing can stop me.” She continued “This summer I had a surprise. It’s called, um, a near-death experience. Yes, and I’m not kidding. It was pretty scary. Obviously, I didn’t know for four days, because I was in an induced coma. But when I woke up, the first word I said was ‘No.’ Anyway, that’s what my assistant tells me. And I’m pretty sure that God was saying to me, ‘Do you wanna come with us? You wanna come with me? You wanna go this way?’ And I said, ‘No. No. No!’”

Of her recovery since, she told the crowd “It was a strange thing to finally not feel like I was in control. And that was my lesson to let go.”

Madonna’s Celebration Tour was originally slated to begin last July in the U.S.; despite her near-death experience, she was onstage performing four London shows as soon as October—only a three-month delay—and her North American leg started in December in Brooklyn. She recalled when she was asked “Well, when do you think you wanna go back on tour?” and her response: “I took the oxygen out of my nose, I looked at him, and I said, ‘In two f—king months!’ I swear to God, I just said it. And sometimes you just gotta say s—t, put it out in the universe, and it happens.”

Madonna Celebration Tour

Madonna spoke for nearly 10 minutes off-the-cuff last night in Los Angeles

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Madonna also opened up heavily about motherhood, telling the audience “My children are the ones that really helped me pull through, because they worked so hard and…I didn’t want to let them down. So I just set a date and that date became a reality. And I didn’t wanna disappoint my fans. I never do.” She added, poetically, “I want to provocate. I wanna masturbate. But I don’t want to disappoint my fans.”

Continuing on about being a mom, she said “The motherhood s—t—that’s when we get into the real heart [material] because no one breaks your heart like your children. Oh, I don’t mean that in a bad way. I love my kids…Motherhood—that’s when life gets complicated. Because when I had children, I finally realized that I was not the center of the universe. But my children are the reason that I keep going.”

During her nearly 10-minute oration, Madonna spoke of The Celebration Tour, telling fans “I’m about to tell you the story of my life. It’s like reading from my personal diary through music, through dance, through art, through videos. I hope you can handle it.” She added “My life has been, obviously, a rollercoaster, artistically, emotionally, mentally physically. But how grateful I am that you are all here and that you all stood by me—for four f—king decades!”

Madonna Celebration Tour

The Celebration Tour wraps up next month in Mexico

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After her five-night L.A. run, the U.S. leg of the tour continues until April 15, when it wraps in Austin, Texas. From there, Madonna is off to Mexico City for another five-night stand in late April that will bring the production to a close.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.