Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan (born September 1, 1957), known professionally as Gloria Estefan, is a Cuban American singer, songwriter, actress, and entrepreneur. She started off her career as the leading vocalist in the group called “Miami Latin Boys” which was eventually known as Miami Sound Machine. Her breakthrough success with Conga in 1985 made her known worldwide. It won the grand prix in the 15th annual Tokyo Music Festival in Japan. This is also her signature song. In the summer of 1988 she and the band got their first number-one hit for the song “Anything For You”. She has a Contralto vocal range.
In March 1990, she had a severe accident in her tour bus. She made her comeback in March 1991 with a new world tour and album called Into The Light. Estefan became a worldwide inspiration after that. Her 1993 Spanish-language album Mi Tierra won the first of her three Grammy Awards for Best Tropical Latin Album. It was the first number-one album on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, established when it was released. It was also the first Diamond album in Spain. Many of her songs like Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, 1-2-3, Get On Your Feet, Here We Are, Coming Out of the Dark, Bad Boy, Oye!, Party Time and a remake of Vicki Sue Robinson’s Turn the Beat Around became international hits, with chart-topping scores. Estefan has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, including 31.5 million in the United States alone.
She has won seven Grammy Awards. Estefan also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Las Vegas Walk of Fame and The Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the highest award that can be given to a naturalized U.S. citizen. Estefan also won the Hispanic Heritage Award, an MTV Video Music Award, two ACE Awards and the National Music Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. She was also honored with the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement as well as being named BMI Songwriter of the Year. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has received multiple Billboard Awards for her many chart-topping hits.
She is also on the list of Vh1 top 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and one of the Top 50 female Artists Who Will Never Be Forgotten, according to The Sun tabloid, UK. In 2015 she was added to the list of Now It Counts as one of The Most Powerful Americans and in Billboard’s Top 30 Most Influential Latin Artists Of All Time.
Estefan was born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García in Havana, Cuba, to José and Gloria Fajardo, a middle-class couple. Her maternal grandparents were Spanish immigrants to Cuba – her maternal grandfather, Leonardo García, immigrated to Cuba from Pola de Siero, Asturias, Spain, where he married Gloria’s maternal grandmother, originally from Logroño, Spain. Prior to the Cuban Revolution, her father was a Cuban soldier and a bodyguard to the wife of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
The Fajardo family fled to Miami, Florida as a result of the Cuban Revolution and settled down there. Shortly after they moved to the United States, Gloria’s father joined the U.S. military and fought in the Vietnam War and moved to Houston, Texas, also having participated in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Gloria attended St. Michael-Archangel School and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami.
Her father became ill after returning from Vietnam and Gloria helped her mother, Gloria Fajardo, care for him. Her mother worked as a schoolteacher for the Dade County Public School system. Gloria Estefan graduated from college in 1979 with a BA in psychology, with a minor in French, from the University of Miami.
When she was studying at the university, she worked as an English/Spanish/French translator at Miami International Airport Customs Department and, because of her language abilities, was once approached by the CIA as a possible employee. Estefan was raised Catholic.
Gloria became romantically involved with the Miami Sound Machine’s band leader, Emilio Estefan, in 1976. As she later revealed, “he was my first and only boyfriend.” She and Emilio married on September 2, 1978. They have a son, Nayib (born September 2, 1980) and a daughter Emily (born December 5, 1994). The family lives in the Star Island section of Miami Beach, Florida. On June 5, 2010 Nayib married Lara Diamante Coppola in the backyard of his parents’ house. On June 21, 2012, the first Estefan grandchild was born: grandson Sasha Argento Coppola Estefan.