Gloria Estefan has become one of the most popular Latin singers of all time.
Gloria Estefan is one of the biggest stars to emerge during the mid-’80s. Gloria Estefan predated the coming Latin pop explosion by a decade, scoring a series of propulsive dance hits rooted in the rhythms of her native Cuba before shifting her focus to softer, more ballad-oriented fare. Born Gloria Fajardo in Havana on September 1, 1957, Gloria Estefan was raised primarily in Miami, FL, after her father, a bodyguard in the employ of Cuban president Fulgencio Batista, was forced to flee the island following the 1959 coup helmed by Fidel Castro. In the fall of 1975, Fajardo and her cousin Merci Murciano auditioned for the Miami Latin Boys, a local wedding band headed by keyboardist Emilio Estefan.
Gloria Estefan (still Farjada) had no idea she was only a few years from making history. With their addition, the group was rechristened Miami Sound Machine and four years later, Fajardo and Estefan were wed. As Miami Sound Machine began composing their own original material, their fusion of pop, disco, and salsa earned a devoted local following, and in 1979 the group issued their first Spanish-language LP on CBS International. Despite a growing Hispanic fan base, they did not cross over to non-Latin audiences until “Dr. Beat” topped European dance charts in 1984.
Gloria Estefan was a powerhouse frontwoman. With 1985′s Primitive Love, Miami Sound Machine recorded their first English-language effort, scoring three Top Ten pop hits in the U.S. alone with the infectious “Conga,” “Bad Boy,” and “Words Get in the Way.” For 1988′s triple-platinum Let It Loose, the group was billed as Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, reeling off four Top Ten hits – “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Can’t Stay Away From You,” the chart-topping “Anything for You,” and “1-2-3.”
Gloria Estefan was on a roll. 1989′s Cuts Both Ways was credited to Estefan alone and generated her second number one hit, “Don’t Wanna Lose You”; however, while touring in support of the album, on March 20, 1990, her bus was struck by a tractor-trailer. She suffered a broken vertebrae that required extensive surgery and kept her off the road for over a year. Emilio Estefan and the couple’s son were injured in the crash as well, but all three recovered. Estefan resurfaced in 1991 with Into the Light, again topping the charts with “Coming Out of the Dark,” a single inspired by her near-fatal accident; two more cuts from the album, “Can’t Forget You” and “Live for Loving You,” secured her foothold on the adult contemporary charts.
Gloria Estefan always needed to communicate with her past. With 1993′s Mi Tierra, Gloria Estefan returned to her roots, recording her first Spanish-language record in close to a decade and earning a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album; on the follow-up, 1994′s covers collection Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, she also recalled her dance-pop origins with a rendition of the Vicki Sue Robinson disco classic “Turn the Beat Around.” Another all-Spanish effort, Abriendo Puertas, earned the Grammy as well, while Destiny featured “Reach,” named the official theme of the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Gloria Estefan was bathing in the success of the new Latin pop explosion. As Latin pop made new commercial headway thanks to the efforts of acts like Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias, Estefan reigned as the most successful crossover artist in Latin music history, with international record sales close to the 50 million mark. In 1999, Gloria Estefan also made her feature film debut alongside Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart, recording the film’s title song as a duet with *N Sync and scoring both a massive pop hit and an Oscar nomination in the process. A new Spanish-language album, Alma Caribeña, followed in the spring of 2000.
Gloria Estefan would experience additional success months later, when Gloria Estefan was awarded a Grammy for Best Music Video for “No Me Dehes De Querer at the first annual Latin Grammy Awards. Gloria Estefan’s husband, Emilio, won for Producer of the Year.
In 2003, Gloria Estefan released Unwrapped, her first English-language CD in five years. To promote the CD, she toured Europe, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. The CD’s first video, for the single “Hoy/Wrapped,” was shot in Machu Picchu, Peru. “Hoy” and the next single, “Tu Fotografia,” were #1 on Billboard’s Latin chart.
Gloria Estefan is still at the top of her game in 2004. In April 2004, Gloria Estefan appeared on the Fox Broadcasting Company’s program, American Idol, but she declined an offer to be an official judge because, she said publicly, she does not like to “judge” others.
Gloria Estefan retiring? On July 28, 2004, at the Trump Tower Building, in a press conference hosted by Donald Trump, Gloria Estefan announced that her then-upcoming tour would be her final one. The Live and Re-Wrapped Summer/Fall 2004 Tour, her first tour in eight years was produced by Clear Channel Entertainment. The tour featured Estefan’s greatest hits, along with new material from Unwrapped. It began in McAllen, Texas on July 30, 2004, and played in 28 cities. Gloria finished her final concert tour in her home town of Miami on the weekend of October 9 and 10, a finale in a sold-out AmericanAirlines Arena that was delayed for two weeks by a hurricane.
In late 2005, after being absent from the UK charts for five years, Estefan had her biggest hit single there when the popular club mash-up Dr. Pressure (combining Mylo’s Number 19 hit “Drop The Pressure” with the Miami Sound Machine’s “Dr. Beat”) reached #3 on the UK singles chart. In Australia the single was a #1 summer dance anthem, providing Gloria with her first top 40 hit and commercial radio airplay since 1996. Estefan’s last Australian #1 was “Turn the Beat Around” in 1995.
Gloria loves Dionne. Along with dozens of other prominent singers in early 2006, Gloria Estefan performed in Los Angeles at a tribute to singer Dionne Warwick’s 45-year career. Estefan sang “Walk On By,” one of Warwick’s signature songs that helped launch Warwick’s career in the mid 1960s.
Gloria Estefan is currently recording her next album, which is the last under her current contract with Epic Records.
Gloria Estefan movie star?!?!? In addition to her music career, Gloria Estefan has appeared in two movies, Music of the Heart (1999) and For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (2000). She is slated to star as Connie Francis, a U.S. pop singer whose peak commercial success was in the late 1950s and early 1960s, in Who’s Sorry Now?, based on Francis’ life. Filming is reportedly scheduled to begin in 2006.
Gloria Estefan’s accomplishments:
In addition to her five Grammys, Gloria Estefan has received a number of other awards. In May 1993, Glria Estefan received the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the highest award that can be given to a naturalized U.S. citizen. She has won the Hispanic Heritage Award, an MTV Video Music Award, two cable television ACE Awards and the 1993 National Music Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award. The singer is the recipient of the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement. She also has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Her husband, Emilio, a world-renowned music impresario, received a star adjacent to his wife’s on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.
Gloria Estefan holds an honorary doctoral degree in music from the University of Miami, awarded in 1993. In 2002, Barry University in Miami bestowed upon her an honorary law degree.
Gloria Estefan has scores of encomiums for her musical accomplishments, humanitarian and philanthropic work. In 2002, she received the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Medallion of Excellence for Community Service. The singer was Musicares Person of the Year in 1994.
Gloria Estefan has been honored twice by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1992, she served as a public member of the United States Delegation to the 47th General Assembly to the United Nations.