Born and raised in San Jan, Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin first revealed a love for the performing arts through school plays and choir. By age six he had begun to appear in television commercials, becoming comfortable with the camera and maturing in his craft through acting and singing lessons. Though divorced, his parents were always supportive of his ambitions.
At age twelve Martin became a member of Menudo, the teenage group whose singing, dancing and stage presence electrified young audiences worldwide. For five years Martin lived his dream, performing at music festivals and sold-out concerts on every continent. In 1989 he left the group and returned to Puerto Rico to finish high school; moving to New York after graduation to enjoy six months of well-deserved tranquility.
An offer to return to the theatrical stage brought Martin to Mexico, where he starred in the long-running musical play Mama Ama El Rock ( Mom Loves Rock & Roll). In 1992 Martin segued into the popular Mexican daytime drama "Alcanzar Una Estrella II" ("To Reach A Star"), spending eight months as Pablo, a musician and singer in the band Muñecos De Papel. Due to the tremendous success of the drama, the band did an extensive tour throughout Mexico and the story spinned off into a feature film. For his performance in the feature film version of the series Martin earned a Heraldo, the Mexican equivalent of Academy Award.
Concurrent with a burgeoning acting career, in 1992 Sony Music released his first album of original songs, the self-titled Ricky Martin, which quickly proved his success as a solo artist, evidenced by platinum sales and packed concert dates in every country across South America."It felt great to have complete control of the process," says Martin. "I was also lucky to be surrounded by people who wanted to work as hard as I did."
He followed with another album, Me Amaras (You Will Love Me), a more mature compilation of personal, romantic songs which also skyrocketed to the top of the Latin charts and earned him "Best New Latin Artist" at the 1993 Billboard Music Awards.
Martin's musical talents shine brightest through his work as a songwriter, singer and musician. His third solo album for Sony Music International, a compilation of 'alternative' songs reflecting pop, rock and Latin influences entitled A Medio Vivir, contained the international smash hit "Maria" and opened doors for Martin in countries previously untouched by a Latin star. "Maria" was the #2 selling single in the world in 1997, broke all international smash hit "Maria" and opened doors for Martin in countries previously untouched by a Latin star. "Maria" was the #2 selling single in the world in 1997, broke all records for single sales in Europe and was #1 in countries as diverse as Japan, Argentina, Turkey, Israel, France, the US, Brazil, Mexico and 20 more! His success in Europe and Asia has paved the way for worldwide recognition of his talents and he has only just begun.
His follow up to A Medio Vivir, entitled Vuelve was released in February of 1998 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 50 Album chart, where it remained for 22 consecutive weeks. Vuelve has been certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000 units in the US, and is currently over 950,000 units sold in the US alone. The single of the same name reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks in just two weeks and remained atop that previously untouched by a Latin star.
Ricky Martin's career has always been governed by significant moments. He began in Menudo, the most popular youthful Latin American group of all time; he made his first entry into North American television through 'General Hospital' the longest running soap opera in the US; and he made his debut on Broadway with a starring role in nothing less than 'Les Miserables', one of the biggest selling and most highly acclaimed works of the world capital of musical theatre. The Puerto Rican singer and actor has made the jump from Spanish-speaking market to the North American and established himself in both environments with success and fame.
Since he began as a soloist, Ricky Martin has become one of the most popular, award-winning and concerted artists, not only in Latin America, but also in the United States and around the world. He has received awards in virtually every Latin music category, as well as several in Europe and even one in Japan. This year, "The Cup of Life," (English version of the World Cup song) was the #1 selling single in Europe and Australia! His album sales increase with every release and he has received over 150 gold and platinum albums in his career.
Singled out by Walt Disney to perform the theme song from the movie Hercules, entitled "No Importa La Distancia," ("Go The Distance") in the Spanish - language version of the motion picture release he was also tapped to be the voice of Hercules in the same release. When the film was released in theaters in the US and Latin American countries, fans flocked to the theatre to hear their idol and see the video for the song, which was only available for viewing at the end of the film. The video of the single was subsequently released and garnered worldwide airplay.
"At the moment, I am 100% focused on my musical career," Martin stated early in 1997. He then conquered the European market with A Medio Vivir, and Vuelve has kept him in the spotlight. In countries where Spanish is not spoken, his songs are heard on the radio and on the streets. "La Copa De La Vida," has hit #1 in over 20 countries including Turkey, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Thailand and Italy. His crossover appeal is endless, and he continues conquering new markets on a daily basis. It has been estimated that every 40 seconds, somewhere in the world, a Ricky Martin song is being played.
Martin's non-stop tour in the first half of 1998 was literally a world-wide journey, taking him from Japan to Argentina to Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Belgium, Israel and Turkey, on to, to Australia, back to France where he performed the official theme song for the World Cup '98 "La Copa de La Vida," (The Cup of Life) at the closing ceremonies, in front of an estimated television audience of two billion people.
An arena tour of the United States in the fall was completely sold out and included dates at the Miami Arena, the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, and Madison Square Garden. To close off this hugely successful year, Ricky recently completed a short concert tour which includes stops in Lima (Peru), Bogota (Columbia), Sydney and Melbourne (Australia) Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Jakarta (Indonesia), Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei (Taiwan), Manila (Philippines), Beijing (China) and New Delhi (India).
What could be left for Martin to accomplish? After sweeping the Billboard year-end charts in all categories, being nominated for an American Music Award and winning a Grammy, as well as performing on the live broadcast, Martin is putting the final touches on his first full-length English language album, on Columbia Records, as part of a multi-album deal, which is due for release in early June. The first single, "Livin' La Vida Loca" can be now heard on the radios throughout the USA and the video has hit MTV. The album will be produced by Desmond Child, Emilio Estefan and Robi Rosa, and is Columbia's top priority for the first quarters of 1999.
And all this by the age of 27.