Gloria Maria Milagrosa Fajardo, 1 September 1957, Havana, Cuba. Estefan, the most popular Latin American singer of the 80s and 90s, originally rose to prominence in the 70s by joining soon-to-be husband Emilio Estefan in Miami Sound Machine. Educated at Catholic high school in Miami after moving there from Cuba at the age of two, she first learned to play guitar and sing during her leisure hours. She met the other members of the band when Emilio came to her high school to offer advice on music. Together they played at a friends wedding, but Gloria initially refused to join the group permanently, preferring to concentrate on her psychology degree and career as an interpreter. She eventually relented, marrying Emilio in 1978, shortly afterwards collecting her BA degree from the University of Miami.
Miami Sound Machine recorded a sequence of Spanish-language albums during the late 70s and early 80s, becoming massively successful not only in the USA and Europe but especially Latin America. By 1986 they had been named the Top Singles Act Of 1986 by Billboard. The group officially changed its name to Gloria Estefan And Miami Sound Machine the following year, and enjoyed further substantial hits with Rhythm Is Gonna Get You and Anything For You before Estefan launched her solo career in 1989 with Cuts Both Ways. Three singles taken from the album reached the US Top 10 - Get On Your Feet, Here We Are and the number 1, Dont Wanna Lose You.
Early in 1990 Estefans impetus was halted when she was involved in a serious accident in Syracuse, New York. Having just met with President George Bush to discuss participation in an anti-drugs campaign, the groups bus was struck from behind, resulting in a broken vertebra and surgery for Estefan. She returned in 1991 with new material, after reportedly being awarded £5 million for loss of earnings caused by the accident. While songs on Into The Light, including the US chart-topper Coming Out Of The Dark, dealt with her recovery and rejuvenation, she embarked on an eight-month world tour in March 1991. This was followed in January 1992 with a performance at the interval of Super Bowl XXVI between the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills. In the summer she and Emilio purchased Miami Beachs famed art deco Cardozo Hotel from Chris Blackwell for $5 million.
Estefans 1993 and 1995 albums, Mi Tierra and Abriendo Puertas, were Spanish-language efforts that distanced her somewhat from the American pop mainstream, but proved hugely popular in South America. Destiny was her first English-language collection for over five years (excepting the lacklustre pop covers collection, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me). It featured Reach, the theme to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, an event at which Estefan sang during the closing ceremony. Gloria! marked a welcome return to the Latin sound of the Miami Sound Machine. The following year Estefan made her acting debut alongside Meryl Streep in Music Of The Heart. The title song featured Estefan duetting with pop sensations *NSYNC. The Spanish-language Alma Caribeña, meanwhile, reaped the commercial benefits of the late 90s boom in Latin music
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.