Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan, known professionally as Gloria Estefan (born September 1, 1957), is a Cuban-born American singer, songwriter, actress, and entrepreneur. She is in the top 100 best selling music artists with an estimated 100 million records sold worldwide, 31.5 million of those in the United States alone. She has won seven Grammy Awards and is the most successful crossover performer in Latin music to date.
Early life and education:
Estefan was born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo on September 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba, to José and Gloria Fajardo. Her maternal grandfather, Leonardo García, immigrated to Cuba from Pola de Siero, Asturias, Spain, where he married Gloria's maternal grandmother, originally from Logroño, Spain. Prior to the Cuban Revolution, her father was a Cuban soldier and a bodyguard to Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
The Fajardo family fled to Miami, Florida as a result of the Cuban Revolution and settled down there. Shortly after they moved to the United States, Gloria's father joined the U.S. military and fought in the Vietnam War and moved to Houston, Texas, also having participated in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Gloria attended St. Michael-Archangel School and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami.
Her father became ill after returning from Vietnam and Gloria helped her mother, Gloria Fajardo, care for him. Her mother worked as a schoolteacher for the Dade County Public School system. Gloria Estefan graduated from college in 1979 with a B.A. in psychology, with a minor in French, from the University of Miami.
When she was studying at the university, she worked as an English/Spanish/French translator at Miami International Airport Customs Department and, because of her language abilities, was once approached by the CIA as a possible employee. Estefan was raised Catholic.
Gloria became romantically involved with the Miami Sound Machine's band leader, Emilio Estefan, in 1976. As she later revealed, "he was my first and only boyfriend." 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). The family lives in the Star Island section of Miami Beach, Florida. On June 5, 2010 Nayib married Lara Diamante Coppola in the backyard of his parents' mega mansion. On June 21, 2012 the first Estefan grandchild was born: grandson Sasha Argento Coppola Estefan .
Career in singing:
Mid-1970s through the 1980s:
Starting in 1977, Miami Sound Machine began recording and releasing various albums and 45s on the Audiofon Records label in Miami. The first album from 1977 was entitled Live Again/Renacer and was released with two different covers. After several more releases on the Audiofon label as well as the RCA Victor label and Miami Sound Machine's own label MSM Records, the band was signed to Discos CBS International and released several albums, 45s, and 12"s beginning with the 1978 self-titled album Miami Sound Machine. Growing in popularity in both the United States and around the world, the group would continue recording and issuing various works for Discos CBS International through 1985. In 1984, Miami Sound Machine released their first Epic/Columbia album, Eyes of Innocence, which contained the dance hit "Dr. Beat" as well as the ballad "I Need Your Love". Their more successful follow-up album Primitive Love was released in 1985 launching three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Conga" (U.S. #10), "Words Get In The Way" (U.S. #5), and "Bad Boy" (U.S. #8) became follow up hits in the U.S. and around the world. "Words Get in the Way" reached #1 on the US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, establishing that the group could perform pop ballads as successfully as dance tunes. The song "Hot Summer Nights" was also released that year and was part of the film Top Gun.
Their next album, 1987's Let It Loose, went multi-platinum, with three million copies sold in the US alone. It featured the following hits: "Anything for You" (#1 Hot 100), "1-2-3" (#3 Hot 100), "Betcha Say That" (#36 Hot 100), "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" (#5 Hot 100), and "Can't Stay Away From You" (#6 Hot 100). "Can't Stay Away From You", "Anything for You" and "1-2-3" were all #1 Adult Contemporary hits as well.
In that same year, Estefan took top billing and the band's name changed to Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. In 1989, the group disbanded, and its name was dropped altogether. Estefan is now credited as a solo artist, though the former members of Miami Sound Machine continue as her backing band to this day.
In 1988, after the worldwide chart success of single "Anything for You", her 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 The Netherlands, staying at #1 for 22 weeks. The album also took top honors in Australia and Canada, launching Estefan to superstar status.
1990: Cuts Both Ways, tour bus collision and surgery:
In late 1989, she released her best-selling album to date, Cuts Both Ways. The album included the hit singles "Don't Wanna Lose You" (a Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit), "Oye mi Canto (Hear my Voice)", "Here We Are", "Cuts Both Ways" (#1 on the U.S. Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart) and "Get on Your Feet".
While touring in support of Cuts Both Ways on March 20, 1990, near Scranton, Pennsylvania, Estefan was critically injured, suffering a fractured spine when a speeding semi-truck crashed into the tour bus she was in during a snowstorm. She was taken to Community Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit and the next day was flown by helicopter to New York City, where surgeons at the Hospital for Joint Diseases at NYU Langone Medical Center permanently implanted two titanium rods to stabilize her vertebral column. Her rehabilitation required almost a year of intensive physical therapy by Michael Klepper, and one of her comments of this period is "there were times when the pain was so bad I prayed I'd pass out", but she achieved a complete recovery. She returned to an international tour ten months after the collision and began singing again.
1991-1992: Into The Light and The Greatest Hits:
Estefan returned to the charts with a concept album, Into the Light, in 1991. She performed "Coming Out of the Dark" for the first time on the American Music Awards in January 1991, receiving a standing ovation as she took the stage. "Coming Out of the Dark" reached #1 in the U.S. as a single a few months later. Other popular singles were "Seal Our Fate" and "Live for Loving You". The album peaked at number five on the Billboard album chart, becoming her highest debut; it also peaked at number two on the British albums chart. Eventually the album went platinum in the UK and double platinum in the US. The Into the Light World Tour covered 100 cities in five countries and was seen by more than 10 million people worldwide.
She followed up Into the Light with her first greatest-hits album, Gloria Estefan Greatest Hits. It was released in 1992, and included the U.S. hit ballads "Always Tomorrow" and "I See Your Smile" along with the international hit dance track "Go Away". Also in 1992, Estefan sang backup on fellow Cuban-American singer-songwriter Jon Secada's breakthrough single "Just Another Day". She spent much of 1992 in Miami, helping relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Andrew.
1993: Mi Tierra and Christmas Through Your Eyes:
In 1993, Estefan released the album Mi Tierra, her first Spanish-language album. It peaked at number twenty-seven on the Billboard album chart and number eleven on the British album chart. The singles "Mi Tierra" and the romantic-tropical ballad "Con Los Años Que Me Quedan" and "Mi Buen Amor", climbed to number-one on the "Hot Latin Tracks" chart in the United States. The album sold over eight million copies worldwide, went multiplatinum in Spain (10×) and in the United States (16 times; Platinum - Latin field), platinum in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and gold in Switzerland and Australia, and won a Grammy Award for "Best Tropical Latin Album". That same year, Estefan released her first Christmas album, Christmas Through Your Eyes, the first album from Estefan to not be produced by her husband Emilio Estefan Jr. The collection included the singles "This Christmas" and "Silent Night".The album went Platinum in the United States.
Also in 1993, Estefan collaborated with Frank Sinatra on his album Duets with the song "Come Rain or Come Shine".
1994-1995: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me and Abriendo Puertas:
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, a cover album of some of Estefan's favorite songs from the 1960s and 1970s, 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. It also was used in the Sharon Stone film The Specialist.
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 "Más Allá".
In January 1995, the Miami Sound Machine performed at the Super Bowl XXIX halftime show, with Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, in a program entitled "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye", to promote the upcoming Disney theme park attraction.
1996-1997: Summer Olympics and Destiny:
The platinum-selling album Destiny, released in 1996, featured "Reach", the official theme of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Estefan performed in the Summer Olympics closing ceremony, in front of an audience of two billion people worldwide, during which she performed the songs "Reach" and "You'll Be Mine (Party Time)".
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.
1998: Back to dance: gloria!:
Estefan rode the wave of the disco revival in the U.S. during the late 1990s. On June 2, 1998, she released her eighth solo album, (twenty-first overall), gloria!. The album is highly influenced by disco music, blended with Salsa music percussion and Latin flavour. To promote gloria!, she performed at the famed New York City discoteque Studio 54.
The album peaked at #23 on the Billboard 200. The album reached Gold certification. The single "Oye!" peaked at #1 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play and the Hot Latin Tracks charts, and was featured in the 1998 Eddie Murphy film Holy Man. The other major hit single releases were "Don't Let This Moment End", which peaked at #76 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "Heaven's What I Feel", which peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1999: "Music of My Heart":
In 1999, Estefan performed with 'N Sync on the single "Music Of My Heart", which was featured in a film in which she also appeared, Music of the Heart. The song reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart and was nominated for an Academy Award. 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, and recorded a duet with Rosie O'Donnell, "Gonna Eat For Christmas", which was featured in O'Donnell's television special, as well as on the benefit album, A Rosie Christmas.
She also appeared in a performance with Stevie Wonder at Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at game three of the 2003 World Series in Miami between the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees.
The next album Alma Caribeña (Caribbean Soul) was released in 2000. It was her third Spanish language album with a focus on caribbean rhythms. The album featured several Latin Hits as "No me dejes de querer", "Como me duele perderte", "Por un beso". The album features duets with José Feliciano and the late Celia Cruz. The album earned Estefan another Grammy Music Award in the category Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album in 2001. Greatest Hits Vol. II was released in 2001. It contained hits from 1993 to 2000, as well as three new songs and a remix of her first hit "Conga", retitled "Y-Tu-Conga". The song "Out of Nowhere" was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category for Best Dance Recording; another song from the album, "You Can't Walk Away from Love", was featured in the film Original Sin.
In 2003, Estefan released Unwrapped, her first English-language CD in five years. To promote the CD, she toured Europe, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. The video for the single "Hoy", had been filmed in Machu Picchu, Peru. "Hoy" and "Tu Fotografía" both reached #1 on Billboard's Latin chart, and "I Wish You" reached the Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts top 20.
On July 28, 2004, at the Trump Tower building, in a press conference hosted by Donald Trump, Estefan announced that her then-upcoming tour would be her final one. The Live & Re-Wrapped Tour, was produced by Clear Channel Entertainment. It began in Hidalgo, Texas on July 30, 2004, and played in 26 cities; it featured Estefan's greatest hits, along with new material from Unwrapped. The final concert of the tour took place in Estefan's hometown of Miami on the weekend of October 9 and 10, in front of a sold-out crowd, despite having been delayed for two weeks by a hurricane.
2005: Mash-up hit with Mylo and the tributes:
On April 7, 2005, Estefan participated in "Selena ¡VIVE!", the tribute concert for Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the "Queen of Tejano", who was murdered in March 1995 on the brink of her attempt to cross over as an English-language performer. Estefan performed "I Could Fall in Love", one of Selena's posthumously released crossover hits. Also that year, Estefan appeared on the soundtrack for the television series Desperate Housewives, singing a song titled "Young Hearts Run Free".
In late 2005, the club mash-up "Dr. Pressure" was released, which combined Mylo's Number 19 hit "Drop The Pressure" with the Miami Sound Machine's "Dr. Beat". It reached #3 on the UK singles chart and #1 on the Australian dance chart, providing Estefan with her first top 40 hit and commercial radio airplay since 1996.
2006: Compilations and the UK promo tour:
In early 2006, Estefan performed in Los Angeles at a tribute to singer Dionne Warwick. Estefan sang "Walk On By", one of Warwick's signature songs.
In October 2006, Sony released a 2-CD compilation The Essential Gloria Estefan, featuring her hits from 1984 to 2003, Estefan made several radio and television appearances to promote The Essential Gloria Estefan including a December 9, 2006 appearance on ITV's The X Factor.
Estefan also released two additional similar compilation albums that year for other markets. The Very Best of Gloria Estefan was released in Europe and Mexico, and was similar to The Essential Gloria Estefan, but also included as a bonus track "Dr. Pressure". This compilation was certified GOLD in Ireland.Oye Mi Canto!: Los Grandes Exitos, a collection of her Spanish-language hits was released in Spain. It included a bonus DVD, which included various music videos and television performances.
In 2008, Estefan appeared during the seventh season of American Idol, in the special charity episode "Idol Gives Back", performing her song "Get on Your Feet" along with Sheila E.. The performance was recorded and was released at the American iTunes Store; the video of the performance reached the number twenty of the store's Top 100 videos, and the song became the most downloaded. Estefan became the headliner of the new venue of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Her three-day shows were sold out. She then headed to Canada to perform at the Casino Rama. In August, she started her "90 Millas World Tour". Estefan played concerts in London, Rotterdam, Belfast and Aruba. Estefan performed several concerts in Spain, specifically Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and Tenerife. Two of these concerts, in Las Ventas, Spain, and Rotterdam, The Netherlands, were free to the public.
Back in the states, Estefan performed a special concert at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to raise funds for the Education of South Florida. Estefan was a headliner for Bette Midler's "Annual Hulaween Gala" along with other special guests such as Kathy Griffin and a costume contest judged by Michael Kors. The event benefited the New York Restoration Project.
During the Thanksgiving season, Estefan appeared on Rosie O'Donnell's television special Rosie Live singing a duet with O'Donnell titled "Gonna Eat For Thanksgiving", an alternate version of "Gonna Eat For Christmas" from on O'Donnell's album A Rosie Christmas.
In 2009, Estefan announced plans for her "farewell tour" of Latin America and South America. Estefan also completed a three-night concert series with Carole King entitled "She's Got a Friend" at the Foxwoods Resort Casino.
The tour continued with a concert at Guadalajara in Mexico, as part of a program designed to improve tourism in Mexico, and a series of appearances at music festivals throughout Europe, including headlining at the Summer Pops Music Festival in Liverpool on July 27, 2009.
The same year, Estefan opened the "In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina 2009" with "No Llores". Also, at the end, Estefan together with Jennifer Lopez, Thalía, Marc Anthony, José Feliciano, performed a rendition of her Spanish-language classic, "Mi Tierra".
Estefan began 2010 with a charity single: she and her husband, producer Emilio Estefan, Jr., invited artists to record "Somos El Mundo", a Spanish-language version of Michael Jackson's song "We Are The World". The song, written by Estefan and approved by Quincy Jones, was recorded, and premiered during El Show de Cristina on March 1, 2010. All of the money from sales of the song went to Haitian relief.
On March 24, 2010, Estefan led a march down Miami's Calle Ocho in support of Cuba's Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White). Las Damas de Blanco is an opposition movement in Cuba that consists of wives and other female relatives of jailed dissidents. Since 2003, the women have protested the imprisonments by attending Mass each Sunday wearing white dresses and then silently walking through the streets in white clothing.
Late in the year, Estefan took part in Broadway's "24 Hour Plays" in which actors, writers, and directors collaborate to produce and perform six one-act plays within 24 hours to benefit the Urban Arts Partnership. She performed alongside actors Elijah Wood, Diane Neal, and Alicia Witt in the play I Think You'll Love This One, written by the 20-year-old winner of the Montblanc writers' project, Elizabeth Cruz Cortes.
2011: Miss Little Havana:
On April 7, 2011, Estefan made an unannounced appearance at auditions for The X Factor in Miami, and gave encouragement to the 7,500 participants gathered outside the Bank United Center for auditions.
In 2011, Estefan was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame along with Grammy and Emmy award winner Harry Connick Jr. Both singers performed at a special concert on June 17, 2011, with Thomas Wilkins as musical conductor. Proceeds from this event went to benefit the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute's education programs.
Estefan's new dance-oriented studio album, Miss Little Havana, was released in the United States on September 27, 2011, with the physical CD available exclusively at Target. Early on, Estefan had described the album as a project in the vein of her 1998 hit album gloria!; Collaborating with her on it were producers Pharrell Williams, Motiff, Emilio Estefan, and Drop Dead Beats.
One song from the album, "Wepa", premiered on May 31, 2011 at AmericanAirlines Arena in a special music video of the song for the Miami Heat. The Heat video was released on YouTube on June 1. The song went on sale for digital downloading at the iTunes Store on July 24.
Both "Wepa" and "Hotel Nacional" achieved number one on Billboard Latin Songs and on Billboard Dance/Club Chart.
In the fall of 2011, during an interview to promote Miss Little Havana, Estefan expressed her views on gay rights and gay marriage and revealed that she was a strong supporter of both. When asked if she was a supporter of gay marriage, she replied "Of course I am. I think everyone should be able to marry who they love, and it should just be." Estefan has also recorded a video for the It Gets Better campaign, an organization which aims to prevent homophobic bullying.
In November 2011, Estefan began hosting Gloria Estefan's Latin Beat, a seven-part series for BBC Radio 2 in the United Kingdom that explores the history of Latin music.
2012-2013: The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep and The Standards:
Estefan started a reality show called The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep opposite Joe Jonas, Nelly and John Rich on the CW Network, where she, and the other three mentors are searched for the next big star, to record an album with Atlantic Records. Unlike other music reality shows, in this program, the mentors selected the "candidates" for the show, and trained them for a live performance, where they'd be voted for the best act of the day. The first season ended in October 2012, with musician Michael Ray, as the big finalist.
This same year, Estefan appeared as a musical guest in Tony Bennett's compilation of duets with Latin-American musicians, Viva Duets with a rendition of the song, "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)". Weeks later, she helped the American version of Teleton, releasing the charity single "Por Un Mundo Mejor" along with Mexican singer Lucero, Dominican rapper El Cata and Mexican pop band, Reik. A video for the song was shot, with them recording the song, which was marked as the official hymn for the foundation.
In May 2013, she appears doing another duet with the song "Think I'm In Love Again" as part of the albums Duets released by Paul Anka.
In September 2013, Estefan released The Standards. The album features some collaborations with artists like Laura Pausini, Dave Koz and Joshua Bell, and a selection of songs from the Great American songbook.
Career outside of singing:
Film and television appearances:
Estefan has appeared in two films, Music of the Heart (1999) and For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (2000). Estefan made a cameo appearance with her husband in Marley & Me in 2008.
Estefan was cast to star as Connie Francis, a U.S. pop singer of the 1950s and early 1960s, in Who's Sorry Now?, based on Francis' life. Filming supposedly began in late 2008, according to Parade magazine (March 23, 2008). Estefan, in an interview with www.allheadlinenews.com, stated the film would be released in 2009. As of December 2009, the film has been dropped as Connie Francis had irreconcilable differences with Estefan over the film's writer. Francis wanted to hire writer Robert L. Freedman, who had written the Emmy Award winning mini-series Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows. Estefan refused to consider him, which according to Francis ended the project collaboration.
Estefan appeared in the ABC television special Elmopalooza, which aired February 20, 1998, in which she sang the song "Mambo, I, I, I". In April 2004, Estefan appeared on the Fox Broadcasting Company's program, American Idol as a guest mentor for the contestants' Latin week.
After campaigning heavily for the part on her social media accounts, Estefan was invited to guest star on the Fox television series Glee, as the mother of cheerleader Santana Lopez. She also appeared as a mentor for the reality-series at CW Network, The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep.
She is scheduled to speak at TEDx Via della Conciliazione, which will be held in Rome on April 19, 2013, and will focus on the theme "Religious freedom today".
Estefan has written two children's books: The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog (2005) and Noelle's Treasure Tale (2006). The latter book spent a week at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller list for children's books.
She also collaborated on a cookbook with her husband entitled Estefan Kitchen, which was published in 2008. It contains 60 traditional Cuban recipes.
Other business ventures:
Gloria and Emilio Estefan own a number of business establishments, including several Cuban-themed restaurants (Bongos Cuban Café)(Larios on the Beach). The restaurants are located in Miami Beach, downtown Miami (part of the American Airlines Arena), at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida, and in Miami International Airport. They also own two hotels: Costa d'Este in Vero Beach which opened in 2008, and The Cardozo in Miami Beach.
Estefan was appointed to the board of directors for Univision Communications Inc. in 2007, according to Hispanic Market Weekly. The Estefans' estimated net worth as of 2011 was approximately $700 million, according to an article in People en Español magazine.
In June 2009, Estefan and her husband became the first Hispanics to buy a minor ownership stake in an NFL team, the Miami Dolphins.
In addition to her seven 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 the Hollywood 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. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami. In 2002, Barry University in Miami bestowed upon her an honorary law degree. Along with her husband, Estefan received an honorary doctoral degree in music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2007. She also delivered the commencement address to the 2007 graduating class.
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. Gloria also founded the Gloria Estefan Foundation whose goal is to help those with spinal cord injuries.
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 Session of the United Nations' General Assembly Opening Plenary.
Estefan received the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year award at the Latin Grammy Awards in November 2008 in recognition of her twenty-five year singing career. She is the first female singer to receive this award. She also received a Latin Grammy for "Best Traditional Tropical Album" for 90 Millas, and a Latin Grammy for "Best Tropical Song" for her single, "Píntame De Colores". This marked the first occasion for Estefan to ever win a Grammy award for a song (either Latin or non-Latin). On March 12, 2009, Estefan was honored as a BMI Icon at the 16th annual BMI Latin Awards. Her catalog boasts 22 BMI Latin and Pop Awards, along with 11 BMI Million-Air Awards.
In April 2010, Estefan and her husband received a star in the "Walk Of Stars" in Las Vegas for their contribution to music industry. On April 28, 2011, at the Latin Billboard Awards, Estefan was honored with the Billboard Spirit of Hope Award for her philanthropic work.