Gloria Estefan is a Cuban-American superstar, born on September 1, 1957, in Havana, Cuba. She fled Cuba with her family when Communist dictator Fidel Castro rose to power. Her father, Jose Manuel Fajardo, had been a Cuban soldier and bodyguard of President Fulgencio Batista. Gloria liked to write poetry, and though she took classical guitar lessons, she found them tedious. She had no idea that someday she would become a popular music artist, but music played a very important role for her as a teenager. Her father returns from the Vietnam War in 1968, unfortunately, Gloria’s father diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. Her father’s condition attributed to Agent Orange poisoning that he suffered in Vietnam. Gloria’s mother, who had been a teacher in Cuba, worked to support the family during the day and attended school at night.
Gloria met the keyboardist Emilio Stefan while performing at a church ensemble rehearsal in 1975. Emilio is Gloria’s future husband, who led a band called the Miami Latin Boys. The band played popular Latin music, but because there was no lead singer, the quartet members took turns singing. A few weeks later Emilio asked Gloria to perform as lead singer with the band. As a result, Gloria became the lead singer of the band. After several months on a professional level, Emilio and Gloria’s professional relationship turned personal. Before going on to several Top 10 hits in the 1980s and 1990s, the band renamed as the Miami Sound Machine. In fact, Gloria and her husband produced a Broadway musical, On Your Feet!, which featured the Miami Sound Machine’s popular songs.
Miami Sound Machine releases their first album entitled Live Again/Renacer with two different covers in the year 1977. Furthermore, the band released their first Epic/Columbian album, Eyes of Innocence, which contained the dance hit Dr. Beat as well as the ballad I Need Your Love in 1984. Gloria and the band released their follow-up album Primitive Love in 1985. The album launched the three top 10 hits on the Billboard: Conga, Words Get in the Way, and Bad Boy, as well as Falling in Love, U.S. number 25. In 1987, they released their new album Let It Loose. The album went multi-platinum, with three million copies sold in the US alone. In 1989, Gloria released her best-selling album to date, Cuts Both Ways. Gloria suffering a fractured spine when a semi-truck crashed into the tour bus she was in during a snowstorm in 1990.
Gloria returns to performing with an appearance on television’s American Music Awards in 1991. Also, in March of the same year, she launched a year-long tour to tout her comeback album Into the Light. For the next four years, Gloria released four albums and embarked on a world tour. The albums alternated in style from Latin to pop. Gloria continued to combine pop, dance and Latin rhythms in her 12th album, gloria! in 1998. In recent years, Gloria found another outlet for her creative talent. She wrote two picture books: The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog and Noelle’s Treasure Tale. She released 90 Millas, a tribute to the music of her native Cuba, which featured Carlos Santana in 2007.
Gloria made a cameo appearance on the television competition American Idol in 2008. Also in the same year, Gloria and her husband collaborated on the cookbook Estefan Kitchen. She also embarked on an extensive American and European tour, which concluded in late 2009. In 2017, Gloria enjoyed additional recognition as one of five artists named a Kennedy Center honoree that year.