Born December 24, 1971, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin began appearing in commercials at age six. He was a member of teen singing group Menudo until he turned 18. After finishing high school, he appeared on stage and television while also pursuing his solo music career. His debut English album and single were hugely successful. He continues to make music in both Spanish and English today.
Martin traveled to Mexico to appear in a stage musical; the gig led to a role as a singer on the 1992 Spanish-language telenovela, Alcanzar una Estrella, or To Reach a Star. The show proved so popular that he reprised the role in a movie version of the serial. In 1993, Martin moved to Los Angeles, where he made his American TV debut in the NBC sitcom Getting By. In 1995 he acted on ABC's daytime soap opera, General Hospital and in 1996 he starred in the Broadway production of Les Miserables.
While Martin was actively pursuing his acting career, he was also recording and releasing albums and making concert appearances. He had become well-known in his native Puerto Rico and among the Latin/Hispanic community as a whole. His third album, A Medio Vivir, came out in 1997, the same year that he lent his voice to the Spanish-language version of Disney's animated feature, Hercules. His fourth album, Vuelve, released in 1998, featured the hit single, "La Copa de la Vida" ("The Cup of Life"), which Martin performed at the 1998 World Cup soccer tournament in France, as part of a showcase broadcast to 2 billion people around the world.
At the Grammy Awards in February 1999, Martin, already a global pop sensation, gave a sizzling performance of "La Copa de la Vida" at Los Angeles's Shrine Auditorium just before picking up an award for Best Latin Pop Performance for Vuelve. He followed that star-making Grammy night with the release of his phenomenally successful first English single, "Livin' La Vida Loca." His album Ricky Martin debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Martin was also featured on the cover of Time magazine and credited with helping to bring a growing Latin cultural influence into the mainstream of American pop music.
To add to the phenomenal popular success of his debut English album and single, Martin was nominated in four categories at the Grammy Awards, held in February 2000. Although he lost in all four categories—to veteran male pop artist Sting (Best Pop Album, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance) and Santana, the band led by resurgent guitarist Carlos Santana (Song of the Year, Record of the Year)—Martin delivered another red-hot live performance, a year after his triumphant Grammy debut.
In November 2000, Martin released Sound Loaded, the much-anticipated follow-up album to Ricky Martin. Its hit single, "She Bangs," earned Martin yet another Grammy nomination, for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
After Sound Loaded, Martin continued making music, both in Spanish and English. His greatest Spanish-language hits were compiled on La Historia (2001). This was followed two years later by Almas del Silencio, which contained new material sung in Spanish. The album Life (2005) was his first English-language album since 2000. The album did reasonably well, reaching the top 10 of Billboard's album charts. Martin, however, has yet to be able to recapture the same level of pop success he achieved with previous albums.
Ricky Martin published his autobiography Me in 2010, which quickly turned into a best-seller. Around this time, he also teamed with Joss Stone for the duet single, "The Best Thing About Me Is You," which proved to be a minor hit. Martin soon released a new album of songs mostly in Spanish, Música + Alma + Sexo, which climbed almost to the top of the pop charts and became his latest No. 1 recording on the Latin charts.
In 2012, Martin made a guest appearance on the high school musical series Glee. He also returned to Broadway that April for a revival of the hit musical Evita by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. He plays the role of Ché, who helps narrate the story of Eva Peron, one of Argentina's most legendary figures and wife to leader Juan Peron.
Martin is the father to two twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, born in 2008 to a surrogate. Once evasive about his private life, Ricky Martin came out in 2010 on his website. He wrote, "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am." Martin explained that his decision to go public with his sexuality was inspired in part by his sons. During an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show in November 2016, Martin announced his engagement to Jwan Yosef, an artist who was born in Syria and raised in Sweden.
An activist for many causes, he founded the Ricky Martin Foundation in 2000 as a child advocacy organization. The group runs the People for Children project, which fights child exploitation. In 2006, Martin spoke in support of a United Nations effort to improve the rights of children worldwide in front of the U.S. House International Relations Committee. Martin, through his foundation, also supports efforts by other charitable organizations. For his philanthropic work, Martin has received numerous awards, including the 2005 International Humanitarian Award from the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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