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Gloria Estefan

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Also Known As: Gloria Mara Milagrosa Fajardo Garca, Gloria Fajardo Died:
Born: September 1, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Havana, , CU Profession: singer, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An internationally renowned pop star, Gloria Estefan paved the way for Spanish-speaking artists to dominate the music charts. She first captured millions of hearts as the lead singer of Miami Sound Machine, performing Top 10 hits such as "Conga" (1985), "Rhythm is Gonna Get You" (1987), and "Don't Wanna Lose You" (1989). Blending Latin, dance and adult contemporary styles, Estefan remained a major force in the music industry until a tragic bus accident in 1990 that left her with broken vertebrae. Her courage and determination helped Estefan survive the crash, and it was not long after until she reemerged with the inspirational single "Coming Out of the Dark" (1991). The Grammy Award-winning artist also made successful attempts at acting and entrepreneurial ventures, yet it was her talent, charisma, and grace that made Estefan one of the most influential female artists of her generation.She was born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García on Sept. 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba. Her father, José Manuel Fajardo, was a Cuban soldier and bodyguard of President Fulgencio Batista. As a toddler, the future star fled Cuba with her family after Communist dictator Fidel Castro rose to power. Her father eventually...

An internationally renowned pop star, Gloria Estefan paved the way for Spanish-speaking artists to dominate the music charts. She first captured millions of hearts as the lead singer of Miami Sound Machine, performing Top 10 hits such as "Conga" (1985), "Rhythm is Gonna Get You" (1987), and "Don't Wanna Lose You" (1989). Blending Latin, dance and adult contemporary styles, Estefan remained a major force in the music industry until a tragic bus accident in 1990 that left her with broken vertebrae. Her courage and determination helped Estefan survive the crash, and it was not long after until she reemerged with the inspirational single "Coming Out of the Dark" (1991). The Grammy Award-winning artist also made successful attempts at acting and entrepreneurial ventures, yet it was her talent, charisma, and grace that made Estefan one of the most influential female artists of her generation.

She was born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García on Sept. 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba. Her father, José Manuel Fajardo, was a Cuban soldier and bodyguard of President Fulgencio Batista. As a toddler, the future star fled Cuba with her family after Communist dictator Fidel Castro rose to power. Her father eventually joined the U.S. Army and served for two years in the Vietnam War. He returned with multiple sclerosis, possibly due to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange. Since her mother worked during the day as a schoolteacher, the young Estefan was left to take care of her ailing father and younger sister at home. It was during this time that Estefan found comfort in her love for music. She also liked writing poetry and took guitar lessons, but found the latter to be too tedious. She met her husband Emilio Estefan in 1975, when he worked as a sales manager for Bacardi rum, and also led a band called the Miami Latin Boys. He first heard her sing during a wedding where the Miami Latin Boys performed. A few weeks later, Emilio asked Estefan to join the band as their lead singer.

Estefan was still attending the University of Miami when she began singing lead for the Miami Latin Boys. The group changed its name to the Miami Sound Machine and released its debut album Live Again Renacer in 1977. The following year, Estefan and Emilio were married. After releasing several Spanish language albums that did moderately well in the international market, Miami Sound Machine finally hit mainstream success with their first English language album Eyes of Innocence (1984). The album included the Top 10 dance hit "Dr. Beat" and featured Estefan not only as the lead vocalist, but also as a songwriter. Their follow-up release Primitive Love (1985) was an even bigger commercial success than its predecessor, largely thanks to the singles "Conga," "Bad Boy," and the power ballad "Words Get in the Way." The album peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 200 and topped the Latin Pop Albums chart.

In 1987 the album Let It Loose set off a string of hit singles. "Rhythm is Gonna Get You" and "1-2-3" made their way onto Billboard's Top 10, while the ballad "Anything for You" became the group's first No. 1 single. Estefan - who several critics described as the demure, Latin version of fellow pop star Madonna - was undeniably the group's breakout star. After changing its name to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine in 1988, they decided it was best to market her as a solo artist and remain as her backup band. Cuts Both Ways (1989) was the first album to credit Estefan as a solo performer. The first single "Don't Wanna Lose You" topped the charts, followed by two more Top 10 hits "Get On Your Feet" and "Here We Are." Despite her popularity with English-speaking audiences, Estefan never abandoned her Spanish-speaking roots. Along with Miami Sound Machine, she always incorporated Latin rhythms and lyrics to her music, including the salsa-inspired "Oye Mi Canto" ("Hear My Song") from the Cuts Both Ways album.

At the peak of her fame, while touring in support of the album, Estefan, her husband, son, and band were involved in a bus accident in March 1990. The crew was near Scranton, PA en route to a concert in Syracuse when a tractor-trailer plowed into the back of her tour bus. Estefan broke her vertebrae after she was thrown from her bunk into the middle of the bus. Emilio and their nine-year-old son Nayib suffered minor injuries. She was rushed to the Scranton Community Medical Center, where her back was stabilized, and then flown via helicopter to a New York City hospital, where surgeons implanted titanium rods to align her vertebra and fuse them. Following the accident, Estefan retired to her home in Miami, FL and underwent extensive physical therapy. Months after the crash, Estefan made a miraculous recovery and marked her comeback with an appearance in January 1991 at the American Music Awards, resulting in a standing ovation after she performed "Coming Out of the Dark," the first single off her inspirational album "Into the Light" (1991). The song was inspired by a vision her husband had while riding in the helicopter with Estefan on the way to her surgery.

The comeback song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. By March of that year, Estefan was back on the road touring in support of her new album. In 1993, she released her first Spanish-language album Mi Tierra, which won the Grammy Award for Best Latin Tropical Album, as well as her first holiday record Christmas Through Your Eyes. Estefan added "dance diva" to her résumé with a cover version of Vicki Sue Robinson's disco classic "Turn the Beat Around" (1976) for the soundtrack of the action film "The Specialist" (1994), starring Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone. Estefan made her feature acting debut opposite Meryl Streep in the drama "Music of the Heart" (1999), the true-life story of a Harlem schoolteacher (Streep) who teaches violin to inner city children. She also performed the film's theme song "Music Of My Heart" along with chart-topping pop group *NSYNC.

In 1998, Estefan co-headlined the first annual VH1 special "Divas Live" along with Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey. The televised concert raised money for VH1's Save the Music Foundation, which funded music education in elementary schools. Estefan continued to record albums, including two Greatest Hits collections (1992, 2001), tour all over the world, and publish such children's books as The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog (2005) and Noelle's Treasure Tale (2006). She was also a successful businesswoman, owning several dining and hotel establishments in Miami, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. In 2008, she and her husband published the cookbook Estefan Kitchen, and made a cameo in the family film "Marley & Me." That same year, Estefan became the first female singer named as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards in recognition of her successful career and contributions to the music industry.

By Marc Cuenco

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Celia the Queen (2008)
3.
 Music of the Heart (1999) Isabel Vasquez
6.
 American Idol: The Phenomenon (2004) Interviewee
7.
 Miss Universe 2004 Pageant (2004) Performer
8.
 VH1 Divas (2004)
9.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1977:
Began singing with the Miami Sound Machine (then billed as the Miami Latin Boys with Gloria Estefan)
1984:
Miami Sound Machine released first English language album <i>Eyes of Innocence</i>, featuring the dance hit "Dr. Beat"
1985:
Achieved crossover success with the Miami Sound Machine album <i>Primitive Love</i> and its hit singles "Conga," "Bad Boy," and the ballad "Words Get in the Way"
1987:
Released the multi-platinum selling <i>Let It Loose</i>, featuring "Anything for You" and "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You"
1988:
Group's name changed to Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
1989:
Released first album credited as solo artist <i>Cuts Both Ways</i>
1990:
Critically injured near Scranton, PA when a speeding semi-truck crashed into her tour bus
1991:
Released comeback album <i>Into the Light</i> and the inspirational hit "Coming Out of the Dark"
1993:
First Spanish language album as a solo artist, <i>Mi Tierra</i>
1994:
Recorded a cover disco hit "Turn the Beat Around" originally performed by Vicki Sue Robinson in 1976; track was included in the covers album <i>Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me</i>
1998:
Featured in the very first "Divas Live: An Honors Concert for VH1 Save the Music" alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Shania Twain
1999:
Film acting debut, "Music of the Heart" opposite Meryl Streep; also sang film's theme song with *NSYNC
2000:
Co-starred with Andy Garcia in the biographical drama "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story"
2003:
Released first English language album in five years <i>Unwrapped</i>
2009:
Along with husband Emilio, bought a small ownership stake in the Miami Dolphins
2011:
Celebrated her Latin-dance-pop roots with <i>Miss Little Havana</i>
2012:
Guest starred on musical comedy series "Glee" (Fox)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Miami: Miami , Florida -

Notes

Her official website is at www.gloriafan.com

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Emilio Estefan. Married in 1978.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jose Manuel Fajardo. Soldier. Had been part of regiment assigned to protect Fulgencio Baptista when he was in power; fled Cuba with family when Castro came to power; later worked with the CIA and served in Vietnam; diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

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