Gloria Estefan: Singer, Songwriter
Miami Sound Machine
While she was still in college, Gloria was persuaded by her mother to attend a wedding, where a band called the Miami Latin Boys was playing. The band leader, Emilio Estefan, asked Gloria to sing with the band for a few numbers—she received a standing ovation. Soon, Gloria and her cousin, Merci, joined the band, which was quickly renamed the Miami Sound Machine. As the popularity of the band grew, they went from playing small weddings to performing in front of larger crowds and eventually recorded their first album, Renacer. Although Gloria and Emilio maintained a platonic relationship for the first few months of playing in the band together, they eventually began dating, and on September 1, 1978, Gloria's birthday, they were married. In 1980 Estefan gave birth to a son, Nayib. The same year, her father died. Emilio Estefan, sensing the band's potential for stardom, resigned from his job as director of Hispanic marketing at Bacardi in order to manage the band full time, swiftly obtaining a contract for them to record four albums with the Latin Music division of CBS, Discos.
The music of Miami Sound Machine blended sambas with pop and disco influences. Their first albums were in Spanish and were largely unknown to English speakers, but they were very popular with Hispanic American audiences, especially, of course, in Miami. During their early years, the band toured several Latin American countries and had several hit songs in Spanish-speaking countries. In 1984, they released their first English-language album, Eyes of Innocence, and scored their first big American hit with "Dr. Beat." The song rose to number ten in the United States and was on the charts in Europe as well.
In 1986 the song "Conga Love" from the album Primitive Love became a true crossover breakthrough: it was the first song ever to simultaneously hit the top of Billboard's charts in pop, R&B, Latin, and dance music. The album included both English and Spanish language recordings, and the song itself went on to win the American Music Awards for Best New Pop Artist and Top Pop Singles Artist. Other hits from the album included "Bad Boys," and "Words Get in the Way". This would be the last album on which Emilio Estefan would perform—from this point on, he was full-time manager and producer for the band.
The band's success prompted a move to CBS Epic label, the mainstream music division of CBS. Miami Sound Machine had altered over time, with several changes in band members over the years. The recording studio musicians were often different from the touring concert band members, and musically, dance numbers were interspersed with ballads, featuring Estefan's melodic singing. As Estefan herself rose in popularity, the band changed names yet again to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.
Estefan and the Sound Machine's popularity continued to soar, and they performed to sell-out crowds in large stadiums. Music videos on MTV and VH-1 introduced to band to many more fans. In 1987 the album Let It Loose sold four million copies and featured the hit singles "1-2-3," "Anything for You," and "Betcha Say That." Their 1989 album, Cuts Both Ways, had only Estefan's name on the cover. She had written seven of the songs and won BMI Songwriter of the year. Estefan was one of the first musicians to recognize that undiluted Cuban music had huge potential among world audiences, and in 1990, she released the Spanish-language single "Oye Mi Canto."
Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyGloria Estefan: Singer, Songwriter Biography - Miami Sound Machine, Accident Changed Life, Declined Pope's Invitation