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Ricky Martin was born as Enrique Martin Morales in Puerto Rico in December 1971. Raised as a Catholic, he joined the local choir as an altar boy. In his early teens, he joined the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo. He stayed in the band for five years, recording and touring throughout the region but left when he graduated high school to seek opportunities in New York. With very little work coming his way, Martin didn’t remain in the city for long before he moved to Mexico City where things were different.
Combining his love of music with acting, Martin began working in musical theatre in the city before making the move into television by appearing on a local soap opera called “Alcanzar Una Estrella II”. Members of the soap opera formed a six-piece boy band called Munecos de Papel and achieved moderate success in Mexico and South America
During this time, Ricky signed with Sony Discos, part of the Sony group and recorded his first solo album. “Ricky Martin” was released in 1991 and was promoted by the number of concerts across Latin and South America. His second album “Me Amarás” followed in 1993 and included a Spanish language version of the Laura Branigan song, “Self Control”. The album sold over a million copies throughout South America.
Realising that he needed to move north of the border to achieve international success, Martin relocated to Los Angeles, auditioned and won a role as a bartender and singer in the long running American soap opera, “General Hospital.”
The following year he returned to the studio and produced his third album, “A Medio Vivir” which was again recorded in Spanish. This album was different from its predecessors in that it was based on Latin American rhythms and sounds. It also produced the hit single “Maria” which broke Martin into the international market, becoming a top ten hit across Europe and even making it into the lower half of the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Martin kept busy by touring and making an appearance on Broadway, playing the lead in Les Miserables. At the same time, he began recording his fourth album, “Vuelve”. The first two singles from the album reached number one on the Latin Pop Airplay chart but it was the single, “La Copa de la Vida” that was the smash hit, with an English language version of the song reaching the top of the charts in multiple countries. The album also saw Martin nominated for and winning his first Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Performance. His performance at the award ceremony blew people away earning him a standing ovation from his peers and making the music loving American public sit up and take notice.
The reaction gave Martin confidence to record his first English language album. “Ricky Martin” was released in 1999 and was written and produced by industry stalwarts such as Diane Warren, William Orbit and Desmond Child. It also featured a guest appearance from Madonna on the track “Be Careful”. The first single from the album provided Martin with his breakthrough into the English-speaking market. “Livin’ la Vida Loca” went to number one in many countries including the influential UK market and the album went on to sell over 22 million copies globally.
The following year, Martin released his next English-language album, “Sound Loaded” which sold two million copies in the USA and gave us the single “She Bangs” plus a duet with Christina Aguilera called “Nobody Wants to be Lonely.”
In 2001 he released both a Spanish and English language greatest hits album but went back to his Spanish roots for his next studio release in 2003. “Almas del Silencio” went to the top of the Latin American charts and all three single releases, “Tal Vez”, “Jaleo” and “Y Todo Queda en Nada”, also went to number one.
It wasn’t until 2005, that Martin released another English language album called “Life”. Martin co-wrote many of the songs on the album which reached the top ten on the US Billboard charts but single releases didn’t do so well, with the second single, “Drop It On Me” failing to chart.
Throughout this period, Martin toured extensively, performing his first concert in the Middle East in May 2005 and recording an Arabic/English version of two of his hits with local pop start Cheb Mami. He also performed at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Milan.
Fans had to wait another six years for his next studio album, which wasn’t released in the US until February 2011. “Musica + Alam + Sexo” is a bi-lingual album that features appearances by Joss Stone on “The Best Thing About Me Is You” and reggae duo, Wisin and Yandel.
Martin made headlines of a different nature in August 2008 when he announced he was the proud parent of twin boys called Matteo and Valentino who were born to a surrogate mother. Two years later, he confirmed what many had believed for some time when he came out on his website. "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am," he wrote. He also confirmed that he was dating although has declined to reveal the person’s name.
Martin is also known for his humanitarian work and has founded the charity, “Ricky Martin Foundation”. The Foundation works with children around the world and focuses on projects to ban child trafficking. Martin’s work in this area was recognised by the US State Department who, in 2005, named him one of their “Heroes in Ending Modern Day Slavery”.
Ricky Martin has successfully made the transition from Latin American singer to international superstar. On the way he has performed on the stage and on the small screen, worked tirelessly on behalf of children and sold over 60million albums worldwide. He is scheduled to return to the theatre in 2012 to star as Che in the Broadway production of Evita.