loria Maria Fajardo was born September 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba.
She came to Miami less than two years later when her parents
were forced to flee from the government of Fidel Castro.
The day after her 21st birthday she married Emilio Estefan
(born March 4, 1953), the leader of the Miami Sound Machine. Emilio and
Gloria have a teenage son, Nayib (born September 2, 1980) and an infant
daughter, Emily Marie (born December 5, 1994).
Gloria Estefan's early years were not easy. Her father Jose was
among the Cuban exiles who participated in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion,
the unsuccessful attempt to oust Castro from power.
Jose spent a year and a half in a Cuban prison, and during this time
Gloria and her mother lived in a Cuban ghetto near the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Misfortune continued to follow her dad. He was badly poisoned by the defoliant,
Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.
When her mother went out to make a living, Gloria had to act as nurse
and tend to her invalid father. Her one source of comfort was the
guitar she had been given when she was 12. She would sing to herself the Top 40 tunes
of the day, alone in her room for hours on end.
In 1975, at the urging of her mother, Gloria sang some songs at a
wedding which was being entertained by a local party band,
The Miami Latin Boys. The band leader, Emilio Estefan, was so
impressed by her smooth alto voice that he hounded her to join his band.
She reluctantly agreed, but only to sing on weekends. No longer all boys,
the band was rechristened The Miami Sound Machine.
That was the start of MSM's rise to fame.
By 1983, the group was well known throughout Central and SouthAmerica
and had produced four albums for a major label, CBS Discos.
Then in 1984, Emilioconvinced record executives at Epic to release an
English only album (Eyes of Innocence) to the US and European markets.
The first single, Dr. Beat, became a huge hit on the dance charts.
The crossoverworked! The next album (Primitive Love) solidified their success.
From this album came the single "Conga!" which carried with it a unique distinction.
It is the only song in history to appear on Billboard's Pop, Latin,
Soul and Dance chartsall at the same time.
ours, awards, fame, fortune and good luck followed in a steady stream.
That is until the morning of March 20, 1990. As Gloria slept in her tour bus
which had stopped along a Pennsylvania Interstate highway, a speeding
semi-trucksmashed into it from behind.
She knew immediately that her back was broken. A delicate surgery
was performed that required two 8-inch titanium rods to be placed on
either side of her spine. The operation was a success.
She needed 400 stiches to close the 14-inch incision.
But within one year of the accident she was performing on stage again.
During that time of excruciating pain, Gloria received thousands of letters,
telegrams and floral arrangements from well wishers. In 1992 she was able
to return the favor by organizing a benefit concert (Hurricane Relief)
which raised three million dollars for the victims of
More recently in September 1995 the Estefans suffered a traumatic
incident when a jetskier collided with their boat and sadly died.