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Gloria Estefan: Singer, Songwriter Biography

Miami Sound Machine, Accident Changed Life, Declined Pope's Invitation

Gloria Estefan: Singer, songwriter.

Gloria Estefan has been entertaining fans since she joined The Miami Latin Boys in the 1970s. She has inspired many people, and helped to bring the Latin sound to the pop genre. She has weathered many storms, but still managed to continue to release platinum-selling record after record.

Estefan was born "Glorita" Fajardo, in Cuba, on September 1, 1957, just two years before Fidel Castro became president of the island nation. Following Castro's ascent to power, Estefan's parents, Jose Manuel Fajardo and his wife, Gloria, fled to Miami with their infant daughter. In Cuba, Jose had been a former volleyball star and policeman, and two years after his arrival in America, he participated as a tank commander in the futile Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. He was captured by his cousin, a member of Castro's military, and was jailed for over a year and a half. While Estefan's father was imprisoned, her mother struggled in a strange land to make ends meet. Young Gloria was in first grade when Jose returned from Cuba. Soon thereafter, however, he enlisted in the United States Army, and went on to serve in Vietnam. When he returned to the United States in 1969, Jose was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, leaving ten-year-old Gloria to take over much of the burden of caring for her him as well as her younger sister, Becky, while her mother worked in the daytime and attended night school.

Gloria managed to maintain excellent grades at Our Lady of Lourdes all-girl high school while caring for her father, but she had no time for a social life. Instead, she found comfort in singing and playing her guitar. Estefan had loved music from a young age; while her father was in Vietnam, she sent him recordings of her singing. He had responded with a letter saying "One day, you're going to be a star." When Gloria was 16, her long role as caretaker was finally over when her father was admitted to the VA hospital. In 1975 she graduated from Lourdes Academy, going on to attend the University of Miami, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology in 1978.

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