Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gloria Estefan, The #18 Female Artist of the Rock Era

Gloria Fajardo was born in Havana, Cuba.  Prior to the Cuban Revolution, her father was a Cuban soldier and a bodyguard to Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.  The family fled to Miami, Florida when the revolution began.  Gloria attended Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, and graduated from the University of Miami in 1979 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in French. 

In 1978, Gloria married Emilio Estefan, leader of the Miami Sound Machine.  The group began recording albums in 1977, and signed with CBS International. 

In 1985, the group released the album Primitive Love.  The lead, single, "Conga" reached #1 in Canada, #3 in the Netherlands and #10 in the United States.

The follow-up, "Bad Boy", was a #2 smash in the Netherlands, #6 in Germany, #8 in the U.S., #9 in Switzerland and #10 in Canada.

"Words Get In The Way" reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #5 overall in the United States, and was #8 in Canada.  Gloria and the Miami Sound Machine received a Billboard Music Award for Top Adult Contemporary Single, and also won awards for Top Pop Singles Artist (Duo/Group) and Top New Pop Artist.

A fourth hit was pulled from the album, with "Falling In Love (Uh Oh)" hitting #3 on the AC chart.

Let It Loose in 1987 went multi-platinum, with Estefan taking top billing.  The act was now promoted as Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, and soon to just Gloria Estefan.  In fact, the album was eventually repackaged as Anything for You, which became the top album of the year in Canada, Australia and The Netherlands.  "Rhythm Is Gonna' Get You" peaked at #5. 

The former members of Miami Sound Machine continued to be her backing band after the change.  The single "Betcha' Say That" was a mid-charter, but the following year, Gloria enjoyed a huge hit with "Can't Stay Away From You", a #1 AC smash and #6 overall in the United States, #1 in the Netherlands and #7 in Ireland.

The great song "Anything For You" hit #1 on both the Adult Contemporary and Top 40 charts, also reaching #2 in the Netherlands, and #10 in the U.K. and Canada and selling over one million copies.

Estefan released the single "1-2-3", which hit #1 AC and #3 overall in the United States, #7 in Sweden and #9 in Canada.

In 1989, Estefan released the album Cuts Both Ways, which contained the smash "Don't Wanna' Lose You".  It reached #1 in the United States, and was #3 in Canada, #5 in Ireland and #6 in the U.K. and sold over one million copies.

Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine enjoyed another hit with "Get On Your Feet", #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #11 overall  in the United States and #6 in Ireland. 

Gloria and the group received the American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group.  They released the single "Here We Are", another #1 smash on the AC chart and #6 overall in the U.S., and #7 in Canada and Ireland.

The title track gave Gloria her fourth Top 5 song on the Adult Contemporary chart and her second #1 from the album, and her sixth #1 of her career.

While touring in support of the album, Estefan was critically injured with a fractured spine when a semi-truck crashed into the tour bus during a snowstorm.  Surgeons at the NYU Langone Medical Center implanted two titanium rods to stabilize her vertebral column, and Gloria achieved a complete recovery with a year of intensive physical therapy.

In 1991, Estefan was back with the album Into the Light.  The single "Coming Out Of The Dark" contained references to the tragic accident and subsequent recovery, and the public was glad to have Gloria back, taking the song to #1 in the United States and #3 in Canada, and selling over one million copies.

Estefan received a BMI Award for Songwriter of the Year.  The single "Can't Forget You" shot up to #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

The album went Double Platinum in the United States, and a world tour took Gloria to 100 cities in five countries.  Estefan took "Live For Loving You" to #1 on the AC chart, and an underrated #22 overall.

In 1992, Gloria served as a public member of the United States Delegation to the 47th Session of the United Nations' General Assembly Opening Plenary.

Estefan released the compilation Gloria Estefan's Greatest Hits.  "Always Tomorrow" was a new song recorded for the album, and it peaked at #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

"I See Your Smile" was another new recording on the compilation, and it peaked at #3 on the AC chart.

The following year, Estefan recorded her first Spanish-language album, Mi Tierra, which peaked at #27.  The title song hit #1 in Spain, but nothing from the album received wide airplay.  Estefan won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.

1993 was a big year for Gloria.  Estefan received the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be given to a naturalized U.S. citizen.  She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Estefan also received the National Music Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year award, and was presented with an honorary doctoral degree in music from her Alma mater, the University of Miami.

Estefan released the album Christmas Through Your Eyes, which went Platinum, and sang "Come Rain or Come Shine" with Frank Sinatra for his album Duets.

 In 1994, Gloria released the album Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, which included covers of some of her favorite songs from the heart of the Rock Era, the 1960's and 1970's.  The single "Turn The Beat Around" was an excellent version of Vicki Sue Robinson's dance smash, and reached #1 on the Dance chart, #4 on the AC chart and an underrated #13 overall in the United States and #8 in Australia.

Gloria was named as the Musicares Person of the Year in 1994, and she won a World Music Award as the Best-Selling Latin Performer.  Estefan's remake of "Everlasting Love" from the album also reached #5 on the AC chart.  The video won a Billboard Music Award for Video of the Year.

In January of 1995, Gloria performed at halftime of Super Bowl XXIX, and released another Spanish album, Abriendo Puertas.  She received some Latin airplay and won another Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album. 

In 1996, Estefan released the album Destiny, which contained the single "Reach", the official theme song of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.  She performed the song in the closing ceremony before an estimated worldwide audience of two billion people.  The song hit #2 in Spain and reached #5 on the AC chart in the United States.

Estefan went on a world tour, which sent her to the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Latin America, South Africa and Asia.  Gloria won the American Music Award for Best Female Latin Artist, and the BMI Prestigious President's Award.  The single "I'm Not Giving You Up" hit #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

In 1997, Gloria founded the Gloria Estefan Foundation, whose goal is to help those with spinal cord injuries.  Later that year, she was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

 In 1998, Gloria released the album Gloria!, which yielded the #10 AC hit (#1 in Spain) "Heaven's What I Feel".

In 1999, Estefan joined 'N Sync on the song "Music of My Heart".  The song was featured in the movie in which Gloria appeared, Music of the Heart.  The song hit #2 and won a Blockbuster Award for Favorite Song from a Movie.

In 2000, Gloria received an Award of Merit from the American Music Awards, the International Women's Forum Hall of Fame Award, and the Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award.

In 2001, Estefan released the album Greatest Hits, Vol. II, which contained a remix of "Conga" and three new songs.  "Out of Nowhere" was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the Grammy Awards.

Estefan released the Spanish album Alma Caribena, featuring duets with Jose Feliciano and Celia Cruz.  Gloria came home with another trophy from the Grammys for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album. 

In 2002, Estefan received the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Medallion of Excellence for Community Service.  Estefan also received an honorary law degree from Barry University in Miami.

Estefan also sang with Luciano Pavarotti in Pavarotti and Friends.  She also performed with Stevie Wonder at Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami and sang the national anthem of the United States at game three of the 2003 World Series.

In 2003, Estefan released the album Unwrapped, and toured the United States, Europe, Mexico and Puerto Rico.  Gloria wrote two children's books:  The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog (2005) and Noelle's Treasure Tale (2006).  In 2008, Gloria and her husband Emilio released the book Estefan Kitchen, which contains 60 traditional Cuban recipes.

In 2007, Gloria received an honorary doctoral degree in music from the Berklee College of Music.  In 2008, she received the St. Jude Hospital for Children Humanitarian Award.  In 2009, Estefan was awarded the BMI Icon of the Year Award.

In 2011, Gloria released the dance album Miss Little Havana.  She also hosted a seven-part series for BBC in the U.K. called Gloria Estefan's Latin Beat, a program that explored the history of Latin music. 

Also in 2011, Billboard named Estefan as the #14 All-Time Top Adult Contemporary artist, and "Don't Wanna' Lose You" (#75) and "Words Get in the Way" (#81) both made the magazine's Top 100 Top Adult Contemporary Songs of All-Time.

Gloria and her husband own several businesses, including the restaurants Bongos Cuban CafĂ© and Larios on the Beach in Florida, and the hotels Costa d'Este in Vero Beach and The Cardozo in Miami Beach.  In 2009, the Estefans bought a minor ownership in the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. 

Estefan has sold 31.5 million records in the United States and 100 million worldwide.  She has had 18 Top 40 hits, with 11 reaching the Top 10 and three #1's.  But on the chart that is a better gauge of popularity (the Adult Contemporary chart), Estefan has 27 hits to her credit, with an amazing 21 of those hitting The Top 10 and seven career #1 songs.

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