At night, when you turn off all the lights … The words hit my 12-year-old brain
like a virtual truck of joy. Shaking my maracas,
drag queens flooding the stage with energy, glee and strip of duct tape—high heels,
glitter, sequins and, next to me, my 6’8” classical music aficionado father mumbling
that the rhythm wasn’t gonna get him.
since the release of The Essential Gloria Estefan, which first hit our record stores in October 2006. But still
Gloria Estefan is every little gay boy's fantasy - having come back to stardom after a bus crash in the 90's that almost took
her life, her live performances, her dancing, her singing and so much more.
Four decades after she first emerged and after more than 30 smash hits, Gloria’s entire catalogue of
music is still as popular as ever. The Essential Gloria Estefan starts with “Dr. Beat”,
takes us through “Conga,” “1,2,3” and countless ballads like “Here We Are” and the Grammy
nominated “Coming Out of the Dark,” through disco charted waters like “Turn the Beat Around”
and “Heaven’s What I Feel”—even that duet with ’NSync “Music of My Heart.” It’s all here—37 songs
for you to queen out with.
And to further prove this master of song isn’t one to rest on her successes (which, if
you want to get technical, span to artists like Shakira and JLo even being able to exist—let
alone the songs she’s penned for them), the woman with more hit songs than any Latin artist
in history also penned a number three book on the New York Times Bestseller List children’s books
chart and made countless appearances on every major TV show around.
Tales of triumph over adversity or against seemingly insurmountable odds are fairly commonplace
in the memoirs, biographies and everyday tabloid exploits of most entertainers. Very few
have much basis in fact.
Gloria Estefan was injured in a bus crash in March 1990. The accident, on a snow-covered Pennsylvania road,
broke her back and resulted in surgery.
Few artists suffer and then rebuild from an agonizing life-threatening injury, and
fewer still manage to achieve and sustain the overwhelming success, both critically and commercially,
that Gloria has.
Gloria Fajardo was born in Havana in 1957 but was, along with her whole family, to flee Castro’s
Cuba shortly after her second birthday. Her father was employed by the ex-president Batista and was
captured in an ill-fated attempt to overthrow Castro’s new communist government. He was later
released in an exchange of prisoners. Gloria’s childhood and teenage years were spent primarily in Miami,
and while studying for her degree in Communications and Psychology, aged eighteen, she was invited to
sing at a large Cuban wedding, backed by a local band called the Miami Latin Boys. Popular as a “wedding band”
the group was led by Emilio Estefan.
The combination of the band with Gloria’s vocals was a hit with
local audiences, and it was only a matter of weeks later that Gloria joined the group as a full time member.
Between 1975 and 1977 the group honed their style, began writing more and more original material and changed
their name to the Miami Sound Machine. Landing a deal for Spanish language albums with CBS Discos records in 1980,
the band produced seven albums over the next seven years. In 1978 Gloria and Emilio were married and in 1980,
their son Nayib was born.
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