Gloria Estefan Biography
Gloria Estefan (born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García on September 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba) is a five-time Grammy Award-winning Cuban-American singer and songwriter.
Estefan began her career as lead vocalist for the Hispanic dance music band, Miami Sound Machine, in 1975. They crossed over to mainstream popular success with English-speaking audiences with the international hit singles, "Dr. Beat" (1984) and "Conga" (1986).
Known as the "Queen of Latin Pop," Estefan is one of the world's most recognized popular music artists. With over 70 million albums sold worldwide, she is the single most successful crossover performer in Latin music history.
Estefan's first public musical performance was at a large Cuban wedding when her future husband, Emilio Estefan, Jr., asked her to join Miami Sound Machine in singing.
Her appearance was well-received and, a few weeks later, she became the lead singer for Miami Sound Machine, which performed and recorded in Spanish in the early years of its existence. The Miami Sound Machine soon gained a large fan base and released an LP in 1977. It was the first all-Spanish album from CBS International.
With Estefan on vocals, The Miami Sound Machine had its first English-language hit with "Dr. Beat," which topped the dance charts across Europe and went Top 5 in the UK and Australia, from the album Eyes of Innocence, in 1984. Primitive Love was released in 1986; The single "Conga" broke MSM into the American pop market. "Bad Boy", and "Words Get in the Way" became follow up hits in the US and around the world; "Words Get In The Way" reached #1 in the US Adult Contemporary chart, establishing that the group could do pop ballads equally as well as dance tunes. The song "Hot Summer Nights" was also released that year and was part of the blockbuster movie Top Gun.
Estefan's next album, 1988's Let It Loose, went multi-platinum, with six million copies sold alone in the US and featured the following hits: "Anything For You" (#1 Pop), "1,2,3" (#3 Pop), "Betcha Say That" (#36 Pop), "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" (#5 Pop), and "Can't Stay Away From You" (#6 Pop). "Can't Stay Away From You," "Anything For You" and "1-2-3" were all #1 Adult Contemporary hits as well.
In 1988, Estefan took top billing as the band's name changed to Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine. Beginning in 1989, the group's name was dropped altogether and Estefan was credited as a solo artist, though the ever-changing line-up of Miami Sound Machine has continued to be her backing band to this day.
In 1989, after the worldwide chart success of single "Anything For You", their Let It Loose album was repackaged as Anything For You. It became the band's first UK #1 album, selling over a million copies. It was the biggest selling album of the year in Holland, staying at #1 for 22 weeks. The album also took top honors in Australia and Canada launching Estefan to superstar status.
In 1989, she released her best-selling album to date, Cuts Both Ways, the title of which refers to Estefan's desire to appeal to both English and Spanish-speaking fans. Hits included "Don't Wanna Lose You" (a USA #1 hit), "Oye mi Canto (Hear my Voice)", "Here We Are", "Cuts Both Ways" (#1 in Australia and on the US AC chart), and "Get on Your Feet" .
Cuts Both Ways sold over 1 million copies and went platinum within its first month of release in the US. The success followed in the UK, where it debuted at #1, with Gloria being the first act in 10 years to have two # 1 albums on the UK charts in one calendar year. Cuts Both Ways then shot to # 1 in Australia, Holland, Belgium, Japan and more, selling over ten million copies worldwide.
Gloria Fajardo became romantically involved with the Miami Sound Machine's band leader, Emilio Estefan, in 1976. She and Emilio married on September 2, 1978. They have a son, Nayib (born September 2, 1980), and a daughter, Emily Marie (born December 5, 1994).
While touring in support of Cuts Both Ways on March 20, 1990, near Scranton, Pennsylvania, Estefan was critically injured and her back broken when a tractor trailer crashed into her tour bus. She was flown by helicopter to New York City, where surgeons permanently implanted two titanium rods to stabilize her spinal column. Her grueling rehabilitation required almost a year of intensive physical therapy but she sustained a fairly complete recovery.
Estefan returned to the charts with a concept album, Into the Light in 1991. "Coming Out of the Dark" was performed publicly for the first time on the American Music Awards in January 1991, and reached #1 in the US as a single a few months later. The Into the Light World Tour covered 100 cities in nine countries and was seen by more than 10 million people worldwide. She followed up Into the Light with her first greatest-hits album in 1992, which included the minor US hit ballads "Always Tomorrow" and "I See Your Smile" and the international hit dance track "Go Away." Also in 1992, Estefan helped contribute to the mainstream success of fellow Cuban-American singer-songwriter Jon Secada, including singing backup on his breakthrough hit, "Just Another Day." Estefan spent much of the latter half of the year in Miami, helping with relief from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew.
1993's Mi Tierra saw Estefan return to her Cuban roots with a Spanish-language album, for which she won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album. Mi Tierra was a successful album worldwide, with over eight million copies sold. In Spain, Mi Tierra became the country's best selling international album ever.
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, a cover album of some of Estefan's favorite 1960s and 1970s songs (including the title song, the Classics IV's "Traces," and Blood, Sweat & Tears' "You've Made Me So Very Happy," among others), was released in 1994. "Turn the Beat Around", the first single and a remake of Vicki Sue Robinson's 1976 disco classic, became another international hit, certified gold in the US and also featured in the Sharon Stone movie The Specialist. "Everlasting Love" (the 1967 Robert Knight and 1974 Carl Carlton classic) was a successful club and pop hit, and a third single, a remake of Carole King's signature song "It's Too Late," did well on Adult Contemporary radio.
1995's Spanish-language album Abriendo Puertas earned Estefan her second Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album. It spun off two #1 Dance hits, "Abriendo Puertas" and "Tres Deseos," and two #1 Latin singles, "Abriendo Puertas" and "Mas Allá." The Miami Herald called Abriendo Puertas "a danceable pan-Latin American fusion, brilliantly built on improbable instrumental combinations and layers of styles and rhythms."
In 1995, Estefan sang the Billboard Latin #1 song "Mas Allá" for Pope John Paul II as part of the celebration of his 50th anniversary in the priesthood. She was the first pop star invited to perform for the Pope. At their meeting, Estefan, an anti-communist, asked the Pope to pray for a free Cuba. She has been an active opponent of Fidel Castro's government, and after some ambiguous statements supported the unsuccessful effort to keep young Elián González in the United States.
The platinum album Destiny, released in 1996, featured "Reach," the official theme of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Estefan performed in the closing ceremony, in front of an audience of 2 billion people worldwide.
On July 18, 1996, Estefan embarked on her Evolution World Tour (her first tour in five years), which covered the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Australia, South Africa and Asia.
Estefan appeared in a movie, Music of My Heart (1999) and duetted with *NSYNC on the Billboard #2 and Academy Award-nominated "Music Of My Heart." She also released a Latin hit with the Brazilian group So Pra Contrariar called "Santo, Santo," sang with Luciano Pavarotti in "Pavarotti and Friends for Guatemala and Kosovo," released the benefit album "A Rosie Christmas," and sang with Stevie Wonder at Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami. Estefan is the only artist to perform twice at the Super Bowl. Estefan also sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Game 3 of the 2003 World Series which was played in Miami between the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees.
In addition to her musical success, Estefan and her husband are entrepreneurs. Together, they own a number of business establishments: five Cuban-themed restaurants (Bongos Cuban Café) in Miami, Miami Beach, Disney World's Pleasure Island in Orlando, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They also own two hotels: the Palm Court Resort Hotel in Vero Beach, which was destroyed by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in September, 2004 (Estefan's management says it will be rebuilt and reopen as the Cabana Beach Resort in late 2007), and The Cardozo in Miami. A Biography Channel profile estimated the Estefans' current net worth at $200 million.
In addition to her five Grammys, Estefan has received a number of other awards. In May 1993, she 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.
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.
She 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.
She 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.