Gloria Estefan, perpetually ahead of the curve, predated the Latin pop explosion by more than a decade, exposing her Latin Caribbean musical roots to the world for the past 15 years.
Her unique musical style -- ranging from propulsive dance hits rooted in the rhythms of her native Cuba to softer, more ballad-oriented fare -- has entranced listeners around the worldwide.
Gloria was born in the late 1950's in Havana, Cuba. Her family moved to the United States after being forced to flee the island following the 1959 coup helmed by Fidel Castro. The young Estafan taught herself guitar and singing, and auditioned in 1975 for the Miami Latin Boys, a local wedding band. After Gloria and her cousin joined the band, the band was rechristined the Miami Sound Machine.
They issued four all-spanish albums before the group recorded their first English album in 1984, Eyes of Innocence which included the regional hit single "Dr. Beat." The follow-up record from the Miami Sound Machine, Primitive Love, was released in 1985 and included the international hit "Conga."
For 1988's triple-platinum Let It Loose, the group was billed as Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, reeling off four Top Ten hits -- "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "Can't Stay Away From You," the chart-topping "Anything for You," and "1-2-3."
In 1990, Gloria was in a near fatal bus accident, and from that experience came the inpirational "Coming Out Of The Dark." This track, as well as many of her earlier popular songs are contained on her 1992 Greatest Hits album.
With 1993's Mi Tierra, Estefan returned to her roots, recording her first Spanish-language record in close to a decade and earning a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.
On the follow-up, 1994's covers collection Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, she also recalled her dance-pop origins with a rendition of the Vicki Sue Robinson disco classic "Turn the Beat Around." Another all-Spanish effort, Abriendo Puertas, earned the Grammy as well, while Destiny featured "Reach," named the official theme of the 1996 Summer Olympics. As Latin pop made new commercial headway thanks to the efforts of acts like Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias, Estefan still reigned as the most successful crossover artist in Latin music history, with international record sales close to the 50 million mark.
In 1999, she also made her feature film debut alongside Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart, recording the film's title song as a duet with N'Sync and scoring both a massive pop hit and an Oscar nomination in the process. A new Spanish-language album, Alma Caribeña, followed in the spring of 2000.
Like many other established musicians, Gloria Estefan chose a total change of direction for Unwrapped, her 2003 release, writing all of the earnest and reflective lyrics for the soul-searching and devoid-of-dance-pop album. With the most detailed production to ever grace the singer's albums, Unwrapped features work from collaborator Jon Secada and contains 18 tracks, of which 14 are in English and the other four are in Spanish.
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