1957 - Present
Inducted in 2013
Gloria Fajarda was born in Havana, Cuba in 1957 but didn’t spend much time there. Her father took the family to live in Miami following the Cuban Revolution in 1959. As a teenager Gloria had little time for a social life. While her mother worked to support the family, she took care of her younger sister as well as her father who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Her love of music served as an escape during these difficult times.
In 1975, she met Emilio Estefan who was performing with the band at a wedding she was attending and they soon began making music together. They were married in 1978.
Now called the Miami Sound Machine, Gloria became an important part of the group. As the band continued, Gloria began focusing more on the musical legacy of her Cuban roots. By 1980, Emilio realized the band had serious potential and quit his day job to act as the group’s full-time manager.
Although it would be common by the mid-nineties, in 1985 there was little sign of Latin music on the billboard charts. Miami Sound Machine would change that with their album Primitive Love. This album contained three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: “Conga,” “Words Get In the Way,” and “Bad Boy.” Their next album, 1987’s Let It Loose, went multi-platinum having sold six million copies in the U.S. with hits like “Anything for You,” “1-2-3,” “Becha Say That,” “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” and “Can’t Stay Away From You.” In 1988, the band officially changed its name to Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, and in 1989 the band’s name was dropped in favor of Estefan’s billing as a solo artist.
The hits kept coming, and Gloria Estefan had put Latin music on the pop music map. She brought her Cuban musical heritage to the masses as the first major crossover artist, and together with Emilio they’ve made Miami the popular music capital of Latin America. In 1993, Estefan released her first Spanish-language album Mi Tierra. Gloria continued to have tremendous success with Grammy-winning Latin recordings and has become a staple on the adult contemporary charts.
Outside of singing, Estefan has appeared in two films, Music of the Heart (1999) and For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (2008). She has also appeared in various television shows and wrote two children’s books: The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog (2005) and Noelle’s Treasure Tale (2006). Together, Gloria and Emilio Estefan own a number of businesses including several Cuban-themed restaurants.
Her contributions to the Florida community include hurricane relief concerts, AIDS research benefits, and advocacy work to strengthen boating safety regulations in the state. In addition to a demanding performance and recording schedule, she contributes time and resources to many cultural events. Estefan frequently champions the importance of arts education for young people with artistic and financial contributions.
Estefan is in Billboard Magazine’s Top 100 Best Selling Musical Artists and has won seven Grammy Awards. She has also received BMI Songwriter of the Year, an MTV Video Music Award, the American Music Award of Merit, and many others. Today, the charts are filled with Latin Artists, but with an estimated 100 million records sold around the world none have ever been bigger than Gloria Estefan.