Gloria Estefan

Latin superstar Gloria Estefan first came to fame as the frontwoman of Miami Sound Machine in the '70s. Born Gloria Fajardo in Havana, she came with her family to Miami as a child during the Cuban Revolution, and became a US citizen in 1974.  She studied psychology at the University of Miami and while still a student, she joined a dance band called the Miami Spanish Boys, led by keyboardist Emilio Estefan. The group became Miami Sound Machine and the pair were married soon after. Initially big with Spanish-speaking audiences, the group's mix of disco and Latin pop didn't cross over until they began making English-language albums in the early '80s.  "Dr. Beat" in 1984 was their first international dance hit, though it was easily topped by the next two albums, Eyes of Innocence and Let it Loose , which went multi-platinum and produced eight hit singles between them-among them were "Conga," which would become Estefan's signature dance song, and "I Need Your Love," the first of her many ballad hits. By now she had top billing in the group, and 1989's Cuts Both Ways, though largely made with the same group, was released as a solo album. It produced another five singles including a smash ballad, "Don't Wanna Lose You." Soon after its release, Estefan met with President Bush on March 20, 1990 to discuss antidrug efforts. Leaving that meeting, her tour bus was struck by a van in Scranton, PA and she was critically injured with a fractured spine. Against the odds she made a full recovery within a year, and had another success with Into the Light, a concept album about overcoming adversity. Another career peak would come with the 1996 album Destiny, which coincided with a commercial resurgence of Latin music. Among its hits was "Reach," which became the theme of that year's Summer Olympics. She carried her career into other media, making her movie debut in the Wes Craven film "Music of the Heart" (1999). During 2010 she and Emilio Estefan spearheaded an all-star, Spanish-language version of the Michael Jackson charity song "We Are the World" for Haitian relief. A jukebox musical based on the Estefans' life story, On Your Feet! , opened on Broadway in 2015 and toured internationally. Gloria Estefan was featured at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017.