Born as Gloria Maria Fajardo, this Cuban born, Grammy award winning singer is better known by the name Gloria Estefan. Considered to be the most successful ever crossover performer in Latin music, this talented singer is counted among the 100 best selling music artists with an estimated worldwide sales of over 100 million records. Gloria was born in Cuba but her family moved to the U.S. when she was very young. Her childhood was rife with problems and she discovered music as a means of escaping form the harsh realities of life albeit for a little while. As a high school student, she actively sang and played the guitar. Soon she was invited to sing a few songs for a local band, ‘Miami Latin Boys’. The band leader, Emilio Estefan, was so impressed by her performance that he invited her to join the band and changed the band name to ‘Miami Sound Machine’. Eventually she married him and performed with the band for a few years before getting her break as a solo singer. Her first album as a solo artist, ‘Cuts Both Ways’ became an immediate bestseller and soon she had a big fan following. More hits followed over the years and this crossover singer is the proud winner of seven Grammy awards till date.
Childhood & Early Life
Gloria Estefan was born to Jose and Gloria Fajardo in Cuba in 1957. Her father, a Cuban soldier was forced to move his family to the U.S. due to political unrest during the Cuban Revolution.
She was raised as a Catholic and studied at the St. Michael-Archangel School and later attended Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami.
She earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Miami. She is well versed in English, Spanish and French.
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She met Emilio Estefan, the leader of the band ‘Miami Latin Boys’ while she was still a student. He invited her to sing for his band, and later asked her to join the band and renamed the band as ‘Miami Sound Machine’.
The band started recording and releasing albums from 1977. Their first album was titled ‘Live Again Renacer’. After several other popular albums, the band signed a contract with Discos CBS International.
The self-titled album, ‘Miami Sound Machine’ was released in 1980, and the band went on to release more albums during the decade which made them very popular on an international level.
Gloria rose to fame with the band’s 1987 album ‘Let it Loose’ for which she got top billing. The album became a best seller not just in the U.S., but also in Canada and Australia, acknowledging her talents as the band’s lead singer.
She released her first studio album as a solo artist, ‘Cuts Both Ways’ in 1989. The album became a best seller cementing her reputation as a solo singer.
She had a terrible accident in 1990 which threatened to cut short her career. But, ever resilient, she bounced back to recovery surprising doctors, and was soon performing again.
Her first concept album, ‘Into the Light’ was brought out in 1991. The album dealt with the theme of overcoming life’s challenges to get back to a desired life.
Her Spanish album, ‘Mi Tierra’ was released in 1993. She incorporated elements of Latin and Cuban music in the album which became one of the best known Latin albums of the year.
In 1994, she released ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me’, an album which consisted of cover versions of her favourite songs from artists like Carole King, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Elton John, Neil Sedaka, and others.
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She released her second Spanish album, ‘Abriendo Puertas’ in 1995. The songs reflected a variety of Latin American musical styles.
In an attempt to keep up with the times, she released a hip and groovy album, ‘gloria!’ in 1998. The songs were full of dance rhythms and aimed at a younger audience.
Her third Spanish album, ‘Alma Caribena’ was released in 2000. It was followed by the English language album, ‘Unwrapped’ in 2003.
Her most recent albums include ‘Miss Little Havana’ (2011) and ‘The Standards’ (2013).
‘Cuts Both Ways’ (1989) was her first album as a solo artist. The single “Don’t Wanna Lose You” became her biggest hit so far. The album went multi-platinum in Australia, U.K. and the U.S.
Her first Spanish album, ‘Mi Tierra’ (1993) is considered to be the most successful album of her career. She won many awards for the album, including her first Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.
Her second Spanish album, ‘Abriendo Puertas’ (1995) sold more than five million copies worldwide. The soundtrack included the singles ‘Abriendo Puertas’, ‘Tres Deseos’, and ‘Mas Alla’.
Her 1998 album ‘gloria!’ was different from all her previous works. The songs were groovier and hipper, and targeted at a younger audience. The album was received well and went multi-platinum in Spain and Argentina.
Awards & Achievements
She has won four Latin Grammy Awards till date for her outstanding contributions to Spanish language music. She is also the recipient of three Grammy awards, taking her tally to seven Grammy Awards.
She won the “Premio Lo Nuestro a la Excelencia” Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992; the award was given to honour her contribution to Latin music.
Personal Life & Legacy
Gloria Estefan tied the nuptial knot with Emilio Estefan in 1978. The couple has two children. She recently became a grandmother when her son had his first baby.
The Estefans operate several business ventures including a chain of restaurants and hotels.
She was the first female singer to receive the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Award.
She was the first pop star to perform for the Pope in 1995.
She has also appeared in two films and some television shows.