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Encyclopedia > Miami Sound Machine
Gloria, Live & Re-wrapped Tour Promo Poster

Gloria Estefan (birth name Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo, born September 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba), is a five-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, who began her career as lead vocalist for the then exclusively Spanish-language band, Miami Sound Machine, in 1975, and crossed over to mainstream popular success with English-speaking audiences with the international hit single, "Conga," in 1985.



Known as the "Queen of Latin Pop," Estefan is one of the most recognized music artists in the world. With over 70 million albums sold worldwide, she is one of the most successful contemporary pop artists.

In addition to her music career, Estefan has appeared in two movies, "Music of the Heart" (1999) and "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story" (2000). She is slated to star as Connie Francis, a U.S. pop singer whose peak commercial success was in the late 1950s and early 1960s, in an as yet untitled film based on Ms. Francis' life. Francis is best known for such hits as "Who's Sorry Now," "Stupid Cupid," and "Where the Boys Are." No release date is set.

Cuban-born, Estefan's family moved to Miami, Florida when she was two years old, after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959. Her father was captured in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion that failed to overthrow Castro's new communist government established by Castro. Her father was held as a political prisoner until an exchange was arranged by then-President John F. Kennedy. Jose Fajardo served as an officer in the United States Army in Vietnam; he is suspected to have been poisoned by Agent Orange, a defoliant used extensively during the Vietnam war. He contracted multiple sclerosis, and was nursed by Estefan for many years before he was institutionalized in a nursing home in his last years. He died in 1980.

Gloria Fajardo became romantically involved with the Miami Sound Machine's band leader, Emilio Estefan, and she and Emiliio married on the day after her 21st Birthday, September 2, 1978. Together, they have a son and daughter.

Estefan was raised primarily in Miami (she accompanied her father, Jose Fajardo; mother, Gloria Fajardo; and younger sister, Becky, to several military bases in the 1960s). She is one of the more prominent graduates of the University of Miami.

She was lead singer for the Miami Sound Machine, which performed and recorded in Spanish in the early years of its existence. The Miami Sound Machine soon gained a large fan base and released an LP in 1976 with a local company. It was the first all-Spanish album from CBS International. The Miami Sound Machine, with Estefan on lead vocals, had its first English-language hit with "Dr. Beat," which topped the danced charts across Europe, from the album "Eyes of Innocence," in 1984. "Primitive Love" was released in 1985; "Conga," "Bad Boy," and "Words Get in the Way" were crossover hits. Her next album, 1988's Let It Loose went multi-platinum, with several million copies sold. "Let It Loose" had the following hits: "Anything For You" (#1 Pop), "1,2,3" (#3 Pop), "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" (#5 Pop) and "Can't Stay Away From You" (#6 Pop and #1 Adult/Contemporary).

Unwrapped Series 2003 (Photo by Carlos Betancourt)

In 1988, Estefan took top billing as the band's name changed to Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine. Beginning in 1989, Estefan recorded as a solo artist for the first time. That year, she released her best selling album to date, "Cuts Both Ways" (which refers to Estefan's desire to appeal to both English and Spanish-speaking fans) with hits like "Don't Wanna Lose You" (a USA #1 hit), "Oye Mi Canto, "Here We Are," "Cuts Both Ways" (#1 in Australia) and "Get On Your Feet". This album sold more than ten million copies worldwide, and reached number one in several countries, such as Holland and the United Kingdom.

While touring in support of "Cuts Both Ways," on March 20, 1990, near Scranton, Pennsylvania, a tractor trailer crashed into Estefan's tour bus, critically injuring her and breaking her back. Surgeons permanently implanted two titanium rods to stabilize her spinal column. A grueling recovery took almost a year. After extensive physical therapy, Estefan returned to the charts with a concept album, Into the Light, in 1991. The lead single "Coming Out Of The Dark," whose title was based on a phrase her husband, Emilio hastily jotted on a piece of paper as a helicopter transported her to New York City for delicate surgery to repair her broken back, was a hit worldwide.

The "Into the Light World Tour" displayed the relentless energy, personal warmth, and crack musicianship that Estefan had developed through her old band, the Miami Sound Machine, and through her solo career. This tour covered 100 cities in nine countries and was seen by more than 10 million people across the world.

1993's Mi Tierra saw Estefan return to her Cuban roots with a Spanish-language album, for which she won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album. "Mi Tieera" was a successful album worldwide, with over eight million copies sold. In Spain, Mi Tierra became the country's best selling international album ever.

The Classics Collection "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" -- a cover album -- was released in 1994. "Turn the Beat Around," the first single, a disco hit from the 1970s, became one of the most successful singles of the 1990s. "Everlasting Love" was a successful club and pop hit.

1995's Spanish-language album "Abriendo Puertas" earned the artist her second Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album. It spun off two #1 Dance hits, "Abriendo Puertas" and "Tres Deseos" -- and two #1 Latin singles, "Abriendo Puertas" and "Mas Alla." The Miami Herald called "Abriendo Puertas" "a danceable pan-Latin American fusion, brilliantly built on improbable instrumental combinations and layers of styles and rhythms." In 1995, Estefan sang the Billboard Latin #1 song "Mas Alla" for Pope John Paul II as part of the celebration of his 50th anniversary in the priesthood. She was the first pop star to receive a call from the Pope to perform.

The Platinum album "Destiny," released in 1996, featured "Reach," the unofficial theme of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. She performed in the closing ceremony, in front of an audience of 2 billion people.

On July 18, 1996, Estefan embarked on her "Evolution" world tour (her first tour in five years), which covered the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Australia, South Africa and Asia.

Estefan appeared in a movie, Music of the Heart (1999) and dueted with 'N Sync on the Billboard #1 and Academy Award Nominated "Music Of My Heart." She also released a Latin hit with the Brazilian group So Pra Contrariar called "Santo, Santo," sang with Luciano Pavarotti in "Pavarotti and Friends for Guatemala and Kosovo," released the benefit album "A Rosie Christmas," and sang with Stevie Wonder at Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami. Estefan is the only artist to perform twice at the Super Bowl.

Gloria and Emilio are successful entrepeneurs. Together, they own five business establishments in Florida: three Cuban-themed restaurants (Bongos) in Miami, Miami Beach and Orlando; along with two hotels, The Palm Court Resort Hotel in Vero Beach and The Cardozo in Miami.

In addition to her five Grammys, Estefan has a number of other prestigious awards. In May of 1993, she received the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the highest award that can be given to a citizen who was born outside the United States. She has the Hispanic Heritage Award, an MTV Music Award, two cable television "ACE" awards and the 1993 National Music Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year award. She also has a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Her next album, 2000's Alma Caribeña won the first Latin Grammy for Best Music Video for "No Me Dejes de Querer." The album reached number one in Spain, the United States and several South America countries. That year, she also won the American Music Awards "Award of Merit."

"Greatest Hits Vol. II" was released in 2001; it contained hits from 1993 to 2000, three new songs and a remix of her first hit "Conga", now called "Y - Tu - Conga." "Greatest Hits -- Vol. II" was a commercial disappointment, however, selling fewer than 200,000 copies, comparing unfavorably to 1992's original Greatest Hits CD, which sold 2.5 million copies.

In 2003, Estefan released Unwrapped, her first English-language CD in five years. She also visited Europe, [Mexico]], Puerto Rico and the United States in a promotion tour. The first video, for the single "Hoy/Wrapped," was shot in Machu Pichu. Peru. "Hoy" and the next single, "Tu Fotografia," were #1 on Billboard's Latin chart.

In April, 2004, Estefan appeared on the FOX television program, "American Idol", but she declined to be an official judge because, she said publicly, she does not like to "judge" others.

On July 28, 2004, at the Trump Tower Building, in a press conference hosted by Donald Trump, Estefan announced that her then-upcoming tour would be her final one. She said that "music has been on of the most beautiful things in my life and will always be a very big part of who I am and what I do. And although I will continue writing and recording and doing everything else that comes with this incredible way of life, this next tour will be my last." This was her first tour in eight years. The "Live and Re-Wrapped" Summer/Fall 2004 Tour, produced by Clear Channel Entertainment, featured Estefan’s greatest hits along with new material from her recent CD, "Unwrapped," in an explosive, multi-media concert production.

Estefan began her "Live & Re-wrapped Tour" in McAllen, Texas on July 30, and played in 28 cities. She finished her final concert tour in her home town of Miami on the weekend of October 9th and 10th -- a finale in a sold-out American Airlines Arena that was delayed for two weeks by a hurricane.

HarperCollins announced in a news release in early December, 2004 that Estefan will publish her first book, in English and Spanish, in November of 2005.

The first draft of the screenplay for the Connie Francis movie is done, and casting and other preliminary pre-production work is anticipated in 2005.

In January 2005, the singer performed "My Picture"' at a pre-inaugural concert attended by President George W. Bush that saluted the U.S. military.

In early 2005, Estefan participated in two charity concerts to aid the victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami. She sang "There's Always Tomorrow" on a live NBC broadcast -- "Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope" -- with other superstar musical acts, that raised over eighteen million dollars for the Red Cross International Response Fund. Estefan also raised one hundred twenty thousand dollars for tsunami relief efforts with her performance at a private benefit concert at financier Donald Trump's Mar-A-Largo resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

After the Connie Francis movie is released, based on her public statements, it is anticipated that Estefan will focus on writing her autobiography.

Estefan currently lives with her husband and daughter on Star Island in Miami.


Releases with the Miami Sound Machine:

  • A toda maquina (1984)
  • Eyes of Innocence (1984)
  • Primitive Love (1985)
  • Let It Loose (1987)
  • Anything For You (Let It Loose UK Release) (1988)

Solo releases:

  • Cuts Both Ways (1989)
  • Exitos De Gloria Estefan (1990)
  • Into The Light (1991)
  • Greatest Hits (1992)
  • Mi Tierra (1993)
  • Christmas Through Your Eyes (1993)
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me (1994)
  • Abriendo Puertas (1995)
  • Destiny (1996)
  • gloria! (1998)
  • Alma Caribeña (2000)
  • Greatest Hits, Vol. II (2001)
  • Unwrapped (2003)
  • Amor y Suerte (2004)


  • Music Of The Heart (1999)
  • For Love Or Country (An Arturo Sandoval Story) (2000)


  • Homecoming Concert (1989 SMV)
  • Evolution (1990 SMV)
  • Coming Out Of The Dark (1991 SMV)
  • Into The Light World Tour (1992 SMV)
  • Everlasting Gloria! (1995 SMV)
  • The Evolution Tour. Live In Miami (1997 SMV)
  • Don't Stop (1998 SMV)
  • Que siga la tradición (2000 SMV)
  • Live In Atlantis (2001 SMV)
  • Live & Unwrapped (2003 SMV)


  • Conga Tour (1985 - 1986)
  • Let It Loose Tour (1987 - 1988)
  • Get On Your Feet Tour (1989 - 1990)
  • Into The Light World Tour (1991 - 1992)
  • Evolution World Tour (1996 - 1997)
  • Live & Re-wrapped World Tour (2004 - 2005)

External links

  • Official Gloria Estefan Website (http://www.gloriaestefan.com/)
  • Official Gloria Estefan SONY Website (http://www.gloriaonline.com/)
  • CONGA Mailing List (http://www.congaonline.net/)
  • gloria FORUM - Gloria Estefan Community (http://www.gloriaforum.tk/)
  • Gloria Estefan profile, NNDB (http://www.nndb.com/people/117/000023048/)
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Gloria Estefan

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