Authored by Carly Hart in Music
Published on 11-07-2009
A versatile musical artist, Gloria Estefan has a large base of fans from all around the world. Though a successful vocalist in the United States and other English-speaking countries, she has never forgotten her Latin roots, releasing several Spanish-speaking albums over the years. She has won five Grammy Awards, all for Spanish vocals. Her life hasn’t always been a bed of roses, though. Gloria Estefan’s biography highlights the struggles she has had to overcome through the years to reach musical superstardom.
Gloria Estefan Biography: Gloria Estefan’s Childhood and Early Career
Born in Cuba, as Gloria Fajardo, she escaped Fidel Castro’s Cuba at the age of two. Her father had been a soldier and bodyguard to former Cuban President, Fulgencio Batista. When Castro rose to power, her father was captured and detained. Ultimately, the Fajardos fled to the United States and settled in Miami. Her father was later diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which was attributed to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. With her father in ill health, her mother supported the family while Gloria cared for her father and younger sister. She comforted herself with music when she felt sad or lonely.
In 1975 at the age of 18, Gloria Estefan met her future husband, Emilio. At the time, Emilio Estefan was working full-time and performing in a band called “Miami Latin Boys” on weekends. The band was in need of a lead singer and once Emilio heard Gloria sing, he offered her the job and she accepted. The band eventually became known as “Miami Sound Machine” due in part because of the addition of a female member and also to pay homage to the distinct Miami sound that the band was becoming known for in Miami. The couple ultimately fell in love and married in 1978. The Estefans have two children.
Gloria Estefan Biography: 1980s-1990s
Though much of the band’s early success was as the result of the release of Spanish-speaking albums which were widely popular in Spanish-speaking countries, the mid-1980s brought acclaim in the United States. Miami Sound Machine’s first English album, Eyes of Innocence, included Dr. Beat, a hugely popular disco song. With the success of Dr. Beat, the band shifted its focus away from Spanish songs to English ones. Through the mid to late 1980s, the band had several hit singles and Gloria Estefan’s band became more widely known as Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.
Gloria Estefan’s career almost came to a screeching halt in 1990 after a tour bus accident in Pennsylvania. The tour bus she was riding in was involved in an accident as she slept, resulting in a near-career ending back injury. Her back was badly fractured, requiring extensive surgery to stabilize her spine. This led to a painful year of healing and rehabilitation and doubts that she could perform again. She emerged, however, a year later in January, 1991 to appear at the American Music Awards and then went on a year long tour beginning in March, 1991, to promote her new album, Into the Light. Her song, Reach, was the official theme song of the 1996 Olympic games.
Gloria Estefan Biography: 2000’s -Today
After her miraculous recovery, Gloria Estefan went on to record several albums in both Spanish and English and found time to pen two successful children’s books. She and her husband, Emilio, also released a cookbook with Cuban recipes. Most recently, Gloria Estefan was on tour promoting her 90 Millas album, in reference to her Cuban roots. The 90 Millas tour had been extended several times and included both European and Latin American concert dates.
Though faced with fame and then adversity, Gloria Estefan’s fight to reclaim her successful music career after a devastating accident is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
- Gloriaestefan.com biography page