Cyndi Lauper celebrated her 57th birthday last Tuesday by releasing her eleventh album, "Memphis Blues." The release marked a significant musical departure for the pop diva known for upbeat hits like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
Lauper said her decision to take the new new direction was prompted, in large part, by the pain many in the U.S. have been facing.
"America is singing the blues right now," Lauper said. "I think as a musician and artist you need to stand in the spot that you are in and describe your surroundings and describe the times you live in. It's a snapshot, and I think art needs to be a snapshot of the world you live in."
Lauper recently sat down with "Nightline" at Madame X bar in New York City to discuss her recent work, reflect on her storied musical career and open up about the remarkable ways her music has deeply touched the lives of her fans.
Below are some of Lauper's favorite songs and the stories behind them.
John Lennon: 'Imagine'
Growing up in New York City during the 1960s, Lauper was captivated by the music of The Beatles. Lauper and her siblings would often pretend they were the band, singing with mops and brooms. In true Cyndi style, she would wear her mother's high heels.
One of her all-time favorite songs is John Lennon's "Imagine."
"When 9/11 first happened, the DJs immediately started playing 'Imagine' as a soothing, calming song," Lauper said. "In the song it says, 'Imagine there's no country, imagine no religion.' The idea that people are people, and that we're one world.
"That was not politically correct at the time," she said. "But I thought it was correct, and again, I am just a small person in the pod of things listening and thinking, 'Wow, everyone's gone a little crazy here.' And so I would want to play that song because it's a song of value and a song of power. It's one of those special songs."
Cyndi Lauper: 'True Colors'
Lauper's 1986 hit "True Colors" rose to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and remains one of her most cherished songs.
"When I first found the song, my friend, a very dear friend of mine, Gregory Natal, died of AIDS. His partner, myself, and a few of his family members and friends, we were kind of devastated because at that time nobody knew what the heck it was," she said. "So it was kind of a rough time. And then this song came. And I heard it at a time when I was so upset."
Although the track was originally written for Anne Murray as a gospel song, Lauper was able to make it her own.
"I kept explaining it should be like a whisper so if you're driving in your car it should feel like someone is whispering in your ear very gently, because if you approach something that sentimental in a pure way, in a simple way, the power of simplicity and gentleness is like the power of a gentle hand. It's sometimes more powerful than a smack."
The track has taken on a life of its own in the LGBT community -- helping many young people who have struggled with their identity.
"A lot of people it helped, for different reasons. It was a healing song."
After years of receiving numerous letters from fans who had been aided by the song's inspirational lyrics, Lauper co-founded the "True Colors Fund" which seeks to promote LGBT rights.
"I'm glad that we're going to help some kids, help some people, and do the right thing and fight for equality, and to give a damn."
Patti LaBelle: 'Lady Marmalade'