Yuri (born Yuridia Valenzuela Canseco on January 6, 1964) is a famous Mexican singer, actress, and TV host. She has maintained a significant presence in the entertainment business in Mexico for the last three decades. Born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico, she moved to Mexico City in 1977, for a career in entertainment.
The early years:
Born Yuridia Valenzuela Canseco in Veracruz, Mexico to Carlos Humberto Valenzuela Priego (died 2007), a medical doctor, and Dulce Canseco on January 6, 1964. She was the youngest of three; one brother, Carlos Valenzuela Canseco, and sister, Yamili Valenzuela Canseco. Yuri's grandfather is of Cuban descent. During her childhood years she studied ballet; at age nine she received a scholarship to study ballet at the famous Bolshoi in Moscow, Russia. However, due to her age and the prospect of having their young daughter living in a foreign country her parents declined. A few years later, her mother in compensation allowed her to join a garage band in Veracruz called Yuri y La Manzana Eléctrica. The band played at fiestas and important festivals around the city of Veracruz; at one of these festivals she had the opportunity to sing with Celia Cruz. During another performance, Julio Jaramillo, an executive producer from the recording studio Gamma, discovered her talent as a singer. Julio Jaramillo proposed a record deal, and urged her to move to Mexico City. Her parents had an altercation over the future of their younger daughter. Yuri's father wanted her to pursue a college degree, and her mother, convinced of Yuri's talent and charisma, supported Yuri's artistic endeavor. In the mid-1970s Yuri and her mother left the rest of the family in Veracruz to pursue a record deal in Mexico City without her father's consent or economic support.
Once they arrived in Mexico City, Yuri's mother became her manager. At first both Yuri and her mother struggled economically until Yuri finally started recording her first album. Dulce Canseco was an effective manager and had to fight the record executives to fulfill their verbal contract with her daughter. The year 1978 saw Yuri's debut "Tú Iluminas Mi Vida" on Gamma Records. The title track was a cover of the Debby Boone smash hit "You Light Up My Life". The album went almost without notice. That same year she obtains a role in the movie, Milagro en el circo. Later that year she co-hosted with Cepillín on the TV show, En Familia con Chabelo.
Rise to stardom:
In 1979 Yuri represented Mexico in Festival OTI, she was disqualified because she sang the song "Siempre Hay un Mañana" by Irasema, which was presumed plagiarism of the song "McArthur Park" sung by Donna Summer. During the competition, the judge panel decided, unanimously, that she be awarded the "Award for the Best New Female Artist". The new award convinced the executive producer, Julio Jaramillo, to a record a second album titled "Yuri". The new album gave Yuri her first hit, "Esperanzas" and helped her star in a couple of Mexican Soap Operas like "Colorina" and "Veronica". Shortly after recording her second album, Yuri embarked on an international concert tour that took place in Central America, South America, The Caribbean and the United States; "Primer Amor", "Goma de Mascar", and "Regresarás" are the most popular songs in Latin America. In 1981, she sang the song "Deja" by José María Napoleón in the Festival OTI, this time placing third in the category of "The Best Female Singer".
In 1982, Yuri recorded her third album and her first gold record in Latin America and Spain, "Llena de Dulzura", due to the hits "Mi Timidez", "Llena de Dulzura", "Tú y Yo", "Este Amor Ya No Se Toca" y "Maldita Primavera" (The Spanish Version of the song: Maledetta Primavera by the Italian singer Loretta Goggi). That same year she recorded a single, "El Pequeño Panda De Chapultepec"; it was dedicated to the first Panda born in captivity in Mexico which sold a million copies in the first year.
She was later invited to the Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar (Chile). She won the award "Antorcha de plata"; she was the first female Mexican singer to receive this award. In 1983, Yuri continued to prevail in the Latin entertainment industry with a popular fourth album, "Yuri, Te Amo, Te Amo" and her second movie, "Rapto en Acapulco".
1984 was a particularly successful year for Yuri; her fifth album, "Karma Kamaleón" was a hit that dominated the music charts in Latin America. That same year, Yuri decided to participate in Festival OTI for a third time; she sang "Tiempos Mejores" by Sergio Andrade. She won the national competition to represent Mexico at the International Festival OTI, but she came in third place in the category of "Best Female Singer".
In 1985 Yuri signed a contract with EMI to record the album, "Yo Te Pido Amor" 1, which was nominated for a Grammy with the two hits "Dejala" and "Dame un Beso". During the Grammy Award ceremony she fled with Fernando Iriarte, the son of television personality Maxine Woodside. Yuri married Fernando that year, and she held a press conference afterward where she revealed the internal conflicts of her family and her wishes for independence. She replaced her longtime manager, her mother, with Fernando. Fernando Iriarte despite being a novice proved to be quite efficient, giving Yuri a more sophisticated sound and image. A Few months afterward, Yuri appeared in Playboy, but she did not pose nude. In 1986 "L.P. Yuri" was released; "¿Es ella más que yo?" and "Un Corazon Herido" are the two major hits that made it another great year for Yuri.
In 1987, Yuri participated in the Festival OTI one last time, and she was disqualified. She sang "La Locura de Vivir" and it was considered a major mistake in her career. Shortly after she was baptized in the Catholic Church so that she could get married through the church with Fernando. That same year she recorded her most successful record, "Aire", with the hits "¿Qué Te Pasa?" and "Cuando Baja La Marea"; the album was a super hit in all of Latin America and the United States. One of Yuri's biggest hit songs from this era, heard widely on Spanish radio and in dance clubs, was the uptempo "Que Te Pasa?"2 written by José Ramón Florez. This single is the second longest running female single of all time in the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart (second to Shakira with "La Tortura"), spending 16 weeks at number-one in 1988 and the fourth one in general.3
"Aire" dominated the music charts which helped Yuri get a record deal with Sony Music to produce the album "Isla Del Sol". "Isla Del Sol" was her most diverse record yet, which included remnants of dance, rap, pop y balads; the songs: "Hombres al Borde De un Ataque de Celos"4, "Imposible Amarte como te Amo Yo", "No puedo mas"5, and "Hola"6. "Hola" was the last song that she recorded that would be nominated for a Grammy. The same year, Yuri received the award Lo Nuestro a la Música Latina. Later that year, an American actor, Don Johnson, asked Yuri to record a duet called "A better place", which is the only English musical recording to this date. In September 1989, Yuri recorded her tenth album, "Sui generisque"; unfortunately the album did not sell as well as her previous albums. Yuri's 1980s albums and singles often reached the top of the charts, earning her several gold albums in Mexico alone.7
At the end of 1989, Yuri revealed that she was separating from her husband, Fernando Iriarte. After her divorce, Yuri released her new album Soy Libre; three months after the release date the album sold more than half a million copies. Five singles dominated the Latin charts: "El Apagon", "Todo Mi Corazon", "Quien Eres Tu", and "Sabes lo Que Pasa". Yuri broke another sales record when the new edition of Playboy titled Sin Límites was published; she received admiration and criticism from her fans. At the same time her fans were comparing her to Madonna, American celebrity journalist were speaking of a possible rivalry between the two stars like on the program Hard Copy. 8 In late 1990, Yuri and Ricky Martin filmed a risque music video from Yuri's hit single Todo mi corazón. 9
In 1991 Yuri starred in her first female lead in the movie Soy Libre along with Omar Fierro. That same year the album Isla del Sol is edited in Brazil in which Yuri recorded four songs in Portuguese. One year later Yuri had a makeover by dying her hair red in effort to help promote her new album Obsesiones. Her new appearance and album were not readily accepted among her fans. Despite her previous record, in 1993 Yuri released her album Nueva Era which was a success with the tracks "Detrás de Mi Ventana", 10 by Ricardo Arjona and "Amiga Mía". 11 The album dominated Latin music charts once again. In 1994, Yuri and fellow pop star Chayanne were the stars of Volver a Empezar, a telenovela that was panned by critics but earned big ratings for Televisa, and Univision in the United States.
Wedding, Christian-music career:
In 1995, Yuri promoted her new album Espejos del Alma; at the same time she was diagnosed with tumors in her vocal cords. This diagnosis became a pivotal moment in her life; she understood that this could mean the end of her career. She looked for possible solutions to her ailment and soon became a born-again Christian and stopped singing secular music. That same year she married Rodrigo Espinoza, a Chilean musician. At the time, she had expressed considerable regret for her past lifetime, confessing that at a time, she had become a sex addict, and that she would demand sex from anyone she found attractive enough after drinking even minor quantities of alcohol, even to the point of missing professional appearances while indulging in sexual marathons. She then visited numerous Christian congregations in Mexico and abroad, gave testimony of the radical change she had experienced, and warned youth against the dangers of promiscuity and unprotected sex.
After many struggles she lived a miracle and her tumor disappeared. In appreciation to her miraculous recovery she dedicated an album to God in Mariachi genre titled Mas Fuerte Que la Vida; that year she was recognized as the Reina VI del Festival Mundial de Mariachis. The album is received well by her fans, but the record does not sell well; afterward she asks her record label, Sony Music to allow her to retire so that she could dedicate more time to herself. As she momentarily leaves the Latin pop music stage, many artist like, Fey, Paulina Rubio, Thalía, Christina Aguilera, and Gloria Trevi take advantage of the spot light and many fans soon look elsewhere for music icons.
In 1997, stars in her autobiography, Yuri, Mi Verdadera Historia; she once again sings with Celia Cruz. That same year she decides to record music again, but of a different kind, gospel. She soon finds a company that will allow her to sing Christian music. The music label, Poligram, records her new single Sabor a Mi which was supposedly going to be part of a new album that took almost the rest of the year to be produced. The Christian album titled Mi Testimonio was produced but was only distributed among Christian music libraries throughout Latin America.
In 1998 Yuri decides to release a new Christian record titled Huellas in the inspirational pop genre. Soon after, Yuri finally decides she is really going to exit the entertainment business so she could dedicate herself to her new faith and family. Yuri continues to use her fame and fortune to help people around the world. Two years later after she announced her retirement, she decided to record a new Christian record in the United States titledYuri: Que Tu Fe Nunca Muera, this record was not commercially available but was circulated by Christian congregations throughout Latin America. 12
The struggle for coming back:
In 2002 after four years of absence in mainstream Latin Entertainment, Yuri signed a contract with Televisa to compile her thirty best hits in an album titled Mis 30 Mejores Canciones. She promoted her record by going on several Latin TV shows and singing her old songs with a new twist.
Soon she signs a new contract with a record label Español MUXXIC, her new album titled Enamorada with the single Ya No Vives en Mi did not reflect the level of success she had in 80s and early 90s. Media critics and fans agreed, the CD proved that Yuri was still a powerful and diverse pop artist. Regardless of her talent, her absence had taken a toll, and some tracks barely made the top ten in a few countries like Baile Caliente in Chile.
In 2004, Yuri goes back to record label Sony Music, she releases a new album titled Yuri, A lo Mexicano but the album had even more disappointing sales that was partially due to the lack of promotion.
In 2006 Yuri released an album with a Mexican singer, Mijares, called Acompáñame. The album was her first to be certified gold in almost a decade 13 Yuri promotes a new album, mostly duet ballads which was a tribute to Camilo Sesto; the album produced the single Callados which reached the top of the charts once again. Acompañame reached platinum in Mexico. The success of the album opened the door for her to become a judge of a reality TV show, Cantando Por Un Sueño, similar to American Idol. Later she is also asked to host the reality show "Objetivo Fama" a talent show produced by Univision / Telefutura that is broadcast to the United States and Puerto Rico. Univision fired Yuri as the host of the show for unknown reasons. 14
In February 2007, Yuri recorded a live show (February 2007) at the Metropolitan Theatre in Mexico City that has been released as a CD/DVD. The album set that was produced from that concert titled Yuri: Vive La Historia reached platinum in Mexico despite minimum promotion. In January 2008, Yuri was asked to host the Televisa series Noche de estrellas. She has used this forum to continue to promote her career by performing with current and past Latin music icons like: Lupita D'alessio, Enrique Iglesias, Emmanuel, and Juanes. Later that year, Yuri released her new album Mi Hijita Linda. From February 14, 2009 to March 26, she sold out concerts in the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, where she made tribute to Madonna. In July 2009, Yuri announced that she would become mother to a seven month old little girl, Camila, that she adopted.
June 22, 2010 marked the release of Yuri's 'Inusual' album. The 23rd record in her 30 year career. The album was produced by Scott Erickson, and features a collection of 8 new songs and 5 covers. The album made it to number one in Mexico in the first week after its release. In less than a month it became a gold album in Mexico. As a result of the success of the album, Yuri was asked to record a theme song "Con las manos atadas" for the hit Latin series 'Mujeres Asesinas, and, on 2011, the theme song "Por el amor de un hombre" for the TV series "Infiltradas" by Chilevision. The Song 'Ya Para Que' was adapted from the song "Palaanadhu Palaanadhu" from a Tamil film's (Kuruvi) music album composed by Vidyasagar which was released in early 2008.
She is currently married to Rodrigo Espinoza, a Christian singer 17 years her junior.