Gloria Estefan [1957- ]
Beginning in the mid-1980s, Gloria Estefan emerged as one of the biggest new pop stars and went on to become the most popular crossover artist in Latin music history with seven Grammy Awards and sales of more than 80 million albums.
Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo was born September 1, 1957, in Havana, Cuba, where her father was a Cuban soldier and bodyguard to Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Following the 1959 Cuban revolution, the family fled the country, living first in Lafayette, Indiana, before finally settling in Miami, Florida.
In 1975 Fajardo and her cousin sat in as vocalists with the Miami Latin Boys, a local wedding band that changed its name to Miami Sound Machine after the two women joined. Fajardo became romantically involved with the band’s leader and keyboardist, Emilio Estefan, and they married in 1978. The band performed around Miami and began writing its own songs, blending the ballads and Latin pop epitomized by Julia Iglesias with disco, funk and R&B. The band released several Spanish-language albums, but it was their first English-language album, 1984’s Eyes of Innocence and its hit, Dr. Beat, that saw the band enjoy its first success beyond their Latin audience.
A year later Miami Sound Machine had even more success with its next album, Primitive Love, which produced three Top 10 hits: Conga, Words Get in the Way and Can’t Stay Away from You. The album, and particularly the single, Conga, which was played on dance floors throughout the world, catapulted the band from regional heroes to international stars.
In 1988 with the release of Let It Loose, the band billed themselves as Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, acknowledging her role as lead singer and star. The album scored four hit singles, including Rhythm’s Gonna Get You, and sold more than three million copies. A year later with Cuts Both Ways, the band became simply, Gloria Estefan, and scored the Number One hit single, Don’t Wanna Lose You. While Estefan and the band were touring in support of the album, she suffered a broken back when a tractor trailer struck her tour bus, seriously injuring her, Emilio Estefan and their son. After the family recovered, Estefan chronicled the near-tragedy on the hit single, Coming Out of the Dark, on her next album, Into the Light.
Esteban returned to her Cuban roots in 1993 with Mi Tierra, her first Spanish-language album in several years. It won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Album and began a pattern of Estefan alternating between Spanish-language and English-language albums, further broadening her already vast audience.
Estefan also began to pursue other artistic endeavors. In 1999 she made her film debut, working with Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart and performing the movie’s hit title single with *NSYNC. She wrote two children’s books, including Noelle’s Treasure Trail (2006), a New York Times Bestseller for children’s books. During the last two decades, the success of her diverse projects have made Estefan an international multimedia superstar whose global appeal extends far beyond her musical career.