Gloria Estefan Biography and Her Music

Gloria Estefan Album 2002
Name: Gloria Fajardo.
Birth date: September 1, 1957.
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba.
Breakthrough: Releasing in 1984 her first English-language album, “Eyes of Innocence,” which included “Dr. Beat.”

Gloria Estefan is a talented Cuban artist considered to be the first Latin crossover artist in the U.S. She is one, amongst the famous Spanish people to have found incredible success in the USA.

It all started with Fidel Castro coming to power. José Manuel Fajardo, Gloria’s father, a soldier in the Cuban army and the bodyguard of President Batista had to seek refuge in the United States.

After coming to the U.S., Fajardo was recruited into the 2506 Brigade, a Central Intelligence Agency-funded group of Cuban refugees that participated in the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco. Fajardo’s cousin helped capture Gloria’s father and subsequently he was released. He served in Vietnam, after being recruited into the US army.

Gloria Estefan’s Childhood

Gloria Estefan Album "Mi Tierra," 1993 Tribute to Cuban Music

Gloria Estefan Album
“Mi Tierra,” 1993
Tribute to Cuban Music

While growing up, young Gloria wrote poetry and learned to play classical guitar. When her father returned from Vietnam in 1969, doctors discovered that he had multiple sclerosis. Her mother supported the family and attended night school, while Gloria at only ten years of age took care of her sick father and younger sister. Weighed with these responsibilities and a zero social life, Gloria found music an outlet for her pent up feelings.

It is interesting to read any Gloria Estefan biography that tells how she met and married her husband Emilio Estefan. Estefan worked for rum dealer Bacardi as a sales manager and was a keyboard player who headed a band called Miami Latin Boys. Latin Music was the band’s forte.

Emilio’s band had no lead singer. Emilio met Gloria on the request of a friend, to advise her on forming a band. A few weeks after hearing Gloria sing, Estefan requested Gloria to join as the lead singer of his band.

Gloria Estefan Album 2002

Gloria Estefan Album

Initially, Gloria performed only during weekends, as she was studying at the University of Miami. A year after joining, the band was renamed the Miami sound Machine. Gloria and the Miami Sound Machine recorded the album “Renacer,” which was a collection of Spanish disco pop and ballads.

We know from this Gloria Estefan biography that in her early years, she was plump and painfully shy. Later on, with the help of exercise, she lost weight and in due course overcame her shyness as well.

In September 1978, Gloria and Emilio took their marital vows. After two years, Nayib, their son was born. Emilio then quit working for Bacardi and started working full-time with the Miami Sound Machine.

On December 5, 1994 Emilio and Gloria were blessed with a daughter, Emily Marie.

This Gloria Estefan biography traces the growth of the band from its Latin music beginnings to the position of fame it holds today.

The great success of the band started when it landed a contract with Discos CBS International for its Latin division. The band recorded four albums in Spanish comprising samba, ballads, pop and disco styles of music.

Gloria Estefan and Miami sound machine composed songs that were popular in Venezuela, Honduras, Peru and Panama which are Spanish speaking countries.

The Breakthorough

In 1984 the band released their first album in English “Eyes of Innocence.” In any Gloria Estefan biography the popularity of the single “Dr.Beat” is evident. This song reached number ten in the United States and was on the charts in Europe also.

In 1986 the band released “Primitive Love” probably the first crossover album. The song “Conga” reached the top of Billboard’s charts in pop, R&B, Latin, and dance music all simultaneously!

Their music was immensely popular, as hit singles like “Bad Boys” and “Words Get in the Way” made it to the Top 10 pop Billboard chart.

Gloria Estefan and the Miami sound machine played music of Latin rhythm, blues and pop, making it a truly hybrid band. Legacy Recordings, states that Estefan is one of the most successful crossover artists in Latin music history, with her international record sales touching the 50 million mark.

The Miami Sound Machine had two personifications. One group was the “Three Jerks” along with session players who recorded songs. The other group was the road band which performed live concerts. Estefan sang for both.

Soon the Miami sound Machine came to be a leading band in the US, with promotions on MTV and VH-1, tours and concerts all over the US. Slowly Gloria Estefan and the Miami sound machine became one name.

In 1989 the band released “Cuts Both Ways.” She won BMI Songwriter of the year after writing seven of the songs in this album. Estefan showed she had vision when she recognized the great potential of undiluted Cuban music among world audiences. The next step was the release of the single “Oye Mi Canto” in 1990 entirely in Spanish.

The Amazing Accident Recovery of Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan Album  "90 Millas," 2007

Gloria Estefan Album
“90 Millas,” 2007

This Gloria Estefan biography would not be complete without prising the amazing recovery she went through after her tour accident.

On March 20, 1990 near Scranton PA, a truck crashed into the bus Estefan and her family were on. They were traveling to a concert in Syracuse. Gloria broke her vertebrae and doctors stabilized her back at the Scranton Community Medical Center. Soon after she was flown to the Hospital for Joint Diseases Orthopedic Institute in New York City where surgeons aligned her vertebrae with titanium rods.

Glora Estefan Music

Gloria Estefan is one of the most successful Hispanic singers who made it in the crossover world, and that is probably why Gloria’s music is one of the most representative and known in Hispanic culture. Here is a selection of some of her best productions I consider complete any Hispanic music collection.

Estefan’s Love Life

Imacon Color Scanner

Gloria and Emilio Estefan
Picture by Alberto Tolot

With extreme effort and the love and support of her family and fans, she amazingly recovered and was back in the spotlight six months after the accident. Her next release was the “Greatest Hits album” in 1992 which went platinum.

In 1993 she released “Mi Tierra” -My Land- an album that was a tribute to Cuban music of the 1930s and 1940s entirely in Spanish. This album sold nearly 10 million copies, and won a Grammy award for Best Tropical Latin Album.

In 2001 the Gloria Estefan biography became more impressive when According to the Contemporary Hispanic Biography by Gale, 2002, Gloria and Emilio Estefan became the first Hispanics to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame of the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In September 2007, the Gloria Estefan Cuba connection became evident in the release of “90 Millas,” her 29th album. This album has 14 tracks which pay tribute to the music of her native land.

This Gloria Estefan biography is a tribute to her brand of popular music of Latin, Pop and disco styles and the pioneering work in the crossover arena for Latino artists in the U.S.

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