Gabriel, Ana (Contemporary Musicians)
Singer, songwriter, producer
A Mexican music star, Ana Gabriel has made her mark as a singer, songwriter, and producer. Her trademark rasp brings power and sensuality to her repertoire, which varies from traditional mariachi to pop. Her songs have charted consistently since she began cutting albums in the mid-1980s. Ramiro Burr of the Houston Chronicle calls her "far and away the top female ranchera singer in Mexico."
Born Maria Guadalupe Araujo Yong on December 10, 1958, in Guamuchil, Sinoloa, Mexico, Gabriel began singing at an early age. While still in her teens she moved to Tijuana where she studied accounting while launching her singing career. She won the local Valores Juveniles (Youthful Values) competition in 1984, and competed in the OTI (Iberoamerican Television Organization) song festival a year later, a performance that earned her a recording contract with CBS Mexico. In 1986 she placed first in the festival and went on to represent Mexico at the international competition in Portugal.
In 1988 Gabriel released her first album, Tierra de Nadie, followed by Pecado Original in 1989, which met with some chart success. Her 1990 album Quien Como Tu made her a force within the Mexican music industry. Eight months later, her live album En Vivo showcased her powerful stage act and scored several hits: "Hice Bien Quererte, " "Propuesta, " and "Solamente un Vez."
Throughout the 1990s Gabriel released an album almost every year. A versatile singer, she showcased her talent as an interpreter of many different musical styles, from lambada to mariachi and romantic ballads to pop music. She also honed her skills as a songwriter and a producer, releasing Mi Mexico, a ranchera-influenced, mariachi-backed pop album, in 1991. This unique blend of styles was also reflected in the songs, all written by Gabriel. Her lyrics described strong, active women involved in their love lives, counter to their passive, traditional depiction in older songs. The album also included a tribute to Mexico's most popular singer-songwriter, Juan Gabriel (no relation).
Gabriel scored a number-one hit with the duet "Cosas del Amor" in 1991, which she sang with Vicki Carr, a Mexican-American pop singer famous in the 1960s. The single earned Gabriel a Billboard Latin Music Award as Song of the Year in 1992. At the same awards ceremony Gabriel was also named Female Artist of the Year in the Mexican regional category and Pop Female Artist of the Year; Mi Mexico was named Regional Mexican Album of the Year.
In 1996 she released the pop-oriented Viven-cias. She followed this with the traditional ranchera album Con un Mismo Corazon in 1997, an album she wrote and produced herself. Of particular interest is her title-track duet with Vicente Fernandez, one of the most prolific and popular ranchera singers in Mexican history. Burr wrote of the duet, "The beauty here lies in the melding of two great voicesabriel's husky sensuality and Fernandez's powerful, understated expressionset against a 25-piece symphony."
Gabriel released another live album in 1998, En la Plaza de Toros Mexico, a 30-track boxed set. That same year she traveled to Miami to work with the renowned producer Emilio Estefan, Jr., on her 1999 album Soy Como Soy. The result was a pop-influenced ranchera album that went gold in the Latin music market and helped Gabriel win the Ritmo Latino Music Award for Female Pop Artist of the Year in 2000.
With the release of Eternamente in 2000 Gabriel returned to mariachi love ballads, using only guitar as accompaniment. That same year she also appeared with other Mexican music icons in an independence day television special called Viva Mexico, a celebration of Mexican music and history. In 2001 Gabriel released Huelo a Soledad, once again balancing the traditional sounds of Eternamente with sophisticated pop songs, a cappella numbers, and dance tracks.
In 2002 Gabriel's platinum-selling album Sagitario was released. In that same year she won the Billboard Latin Music Estrella Award in recognition of her contribution to the Latin music industry, performed at a tribute concert for Vicente Fernandez sponsored by the Latin Music Awards, and participated in the ninth annual Las Cruces International Mariachi Concert and Festival in New Mexico. In December of that year she was scheduled to perform at the eleventh annual Christmas Mariachi Festival in Phoenix, Arizona, but was denied a work visa and refused entry into the United States.
Gabriel is a devout Catholic, telling Luther Orrick-Guzman of QV Magazine, "I believe and have a lot of faith in God." She places a red rose and a white carnation onstage at each of her performances, telling Orrick-Guzman the flowers symbolize "communication between myself and God." Her performances are also noted for their power and the respect she has for all of her fans.
For more than 20 years, Gabriel has contributed to the Mexican music industry. Her wide range of talent is evident in her work: she produces, writes, sings, and performs across a variety of styles. She has performed with such diverse musical stars as opera singer Placido Domingo, pop star Jon Secada, and the ranchera king himself, Vicente Fernandez. Popular from Latin America to Europe, her extensive discography and prolific songwriting ensure that her star will continue to rise well into the twenty-first century.
Tierra de Nadie, Sony, 1988.
Pecado Original, Sony, 1989.
En Vivo, Sony, 1990.
Qien Como Tu, Sony, 1990.
Un Estilo, Sony, 1990.
Mi Mexico, Discos CBS, 1991.
Silueta, Discos CBS, 1992.
Luna, Sony Discos, 1993.
Joyas de Dos Siglos, Sony, 1995.
Vivencias, Sony, 1996.
Con un Mismo Corazon, Sony, 1997.
En la Plaza de Toros Mexico (live), Sony, 1998.
Soy Como Soy, Sony, 1999.
Eternamente, Sony, 2000.
Huelo a Soledad, Sony, 2001.
Sagitario, Sony, 2002.
Arizona Daily Star (Tuscon, AZ), December 15, 2002, p. B7.
Billboard, March 28, 1992, p 10; May 30, 1992, p. 10.
Business Wire, September 12, 2000; May 10, 2002, August 29, 2002.
El Paso Times, November 15, 2002, p. 1.
Houston Chronicle, November 30, 1997, p. 7.
PR Newswire, October 20, 2000.
"Ana Gabriel, " Latin.com, http://music.latin.com/artistprofile.asp?artist=agabriel (June 12, 2003).
"Ana Gabriel Mi Mexico, " RollingStone, http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/cd/review.asp?aid=62590... (June 12, 2003).
"Simplemente Ana! A QV Interview with Superstar Ana Gabriel, " QV Magazine, http://qvmagazine.com/qvArtist/ana/ (June 9, 2003).
Eve M. B. Hermann