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Billions have heard her unmistakable voice, millions have flocked to her electrifying performances, and an astonishing 90 million of her albums have sold worldwide. Though GLORIA ESTEFAN exploded onto the pop scene in 1985 as the dynamic front woman of the groundbreaking Miami Sound Machine, it was the seven time Grammy winner’s soar to solo-act superstardom, which clearly earned her title, the “Queen of Latin Pop.”
Born Gloria Maria Fajardo in Havana, Cuba, to Jose Manuel Fajardo, a Cuban Security soldier and school teacher Gloria Garcia Perez de Fajardo, they fled Cuba in 1959, when Fidel Castro seized power of the country and settled in a neighborhood behind Miami’s Orange Bowl Stadium.
In 1975 she met Emilio Estefan, Jr., who invited her to join his band The Miami Latin Boys. It was a matter of time before Gloria and Emilio fell in love and married in 1978. With a name change to the Miami Sound Machine the band was about to make musical history. By 1983, under the leadership of Emilio Estefan, Jr., the group was well known throughout Central America and South America. In 1984, Eyes of Innocence the band’s first English album stunned the music world especially once their song Conga become a major hit, appearing on Billboard’s Pop, Latin, Soul and Dance charts simultaneously.
Through the years, Gloria has remained true to all facets of her bi-cultural heritage. Focused and committed, she survived an accident that nearly brought her life to an end when her tour bus collided with a semi-trailer in 1990. Estefan marked her return one- year later with the release of the multi-platinum album Into the Light backed by a 29-country world tour. In recent years, Gloria was invited to perform at the closing ceremony of the XIX Winter Olympic Games.
As one of the most revered Hispanic female role models, Gloria has received numerous recognitions and honors. In 1992 she was invited by President George Bush to serve as a public member of the United States Delegation to the 47th General Assembly to the United Nations. In addition, she was the first-ever Latin female to receive the BMI “Songwriter of the Year” award. She has composed 15 of her own Top 10 Hits and has written worldwide hits recorded by renowned artists such as Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.
A gifted artist of international acclaim, she has extended herself through humanitarian efforts. In 2009, she was presented with the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award and the “American Spirit Award” given by the Pepperdine University Hispanic Council in 2005. Additionally, she was presented with an award, next to her husband, Emilio named the “National Artistic Achievement Award” presented by the U.S Congress on July 4 of 2005, commemorating Capitol’s Fourth 25th anniversary. Also, she was presented with the International Women’s Forum “Hall of Fame” award and The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute chose her to be the recipient of their 2001 Medallion of Excellence for Community Service.
In 1997, she founded the Gloria Estefan Foundation, aimed to reach those who struggle outside the safeguards of society by promoting good health, education and cultural development. Following her own brush with paralysis, in March of 1994, Gloria teamed up with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the world’s largest and most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center to serve as the Capital Campaign Director for the Miami Project’s new building campaign that raised over $40 million dollars. Today the Miami Project’s new home, the Lois Pope LIFE Center, is a state-of-the-art facility that has brought together some of the most prominent neuroscience researchers in the world.
Estefan is celebrated as a Best-selling author after the release of her second children’s book, Noelle’s Treasure Tale: A New Magically Mysterious Adventure (in Spanish: El Tesoro de Noelle, Harper Collins, illustrated by Michael Garland). Her smash literary debut, Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog (in Spanish: Las mágicas y misteriosas aventuras de una bulldog llamada Noelle) made it to the New York Times best-seller list for Children’s Books. Both volumes include Gloria’s recordings of her children’s songs, the latest featuring the poignant “See With Your Heart.”
The books center on the life and adventures of Noelle, an intrepid bulldog inspired by and named after Gloria’s real-life beloved English bulldog. A celebrity in her own right, Noelle has appeared with Gloria on Oprah and has been featured in People Magazine.
In the fall of 2007, Gloria released “90 Millas”, a collection of newly recorded original Spanish language songs celebrating Cuban music and culture. The album also pays homage to the most influential and universally respected Latin musicians of the past fifty years. Some of the artists joining Estefan on this album include Grammy award winning artist CARLOS SANTANA, JOHNNY PACHECO (whom many refer to as the ‘godfather of salsa’), trumpet virtuoso ALFREDO ‘CHOCOLATE’ ARMENTEROS, conga drum diva SHEILA E., actor and musician ANDY GARCIA, and CACHAO who is credited as the creator of mambo. This album brought her the #1 single “No Llores” and two Latin Grammy awards.
In 2008, Gloria embarked on a European tour performing to sold out crowds in 11 different cities over two months. Tour stops included Istanbul, London, Madrid, Barcelona Tenerife, Rotterdam and finally ending in Aruba. This marked the first time in twelve years that Estefan toured Europe. Later that year Gloria was named the Latin Recording Academy’s “Person of the Year”, she is the first women to receive this recognition.
In 2009, Gloria became the first Cuban-American to become a minority share-holder in an NFL franchise, by purchasing a stake in the Miami Dolphins.
Gloria’s greatest pride is her family, Nayib (31) and Emily Marie (16) and her marriage of 33 years with her husband Emilio Estefan. Dynamic and transcendent as musician, artist and woman, Gloria remains a beacon of inspiration to her legion of fans worldwide.