Pop singer. Born Enrique Jose Martin Morales IV, on December 24, 1971, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Martin began appearing in commercials on local television at the age of six. He auditioned three times for the teen singing group Menudo before finally earning a spot in 1984. In his five years with Menudo, Martin toured around the world, singing in several languages. He reached the group’s age limit of 18 in 1989, and returned to Puerto Rico just long enough to finish high school before moving to New York to pursue a solo acting and singing career. His debut solo album, Ricky Martin was released in 1988 by the Sony Latin division, followed by a second effort Me Amaras in 1989.
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. From 1995 to 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 two 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 up on his star-making Grammy night with the release of his phenomenally successful first English single, “Livin? La Vida Loca,” and his album, Ricky Martin, which 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.
In recent years, Martin has 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.
Latin pop star Ricky Martin revealed in an official blog post on his site that he is indeed gay. “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man,” Martin said. There has been much speculation as to Martin’s sexuality, but the singer had refused to discuss the issue until now. The 38-year-old said the decision not to share the truth was made because the people he loved warned him that “everything you’ve built will collapse.
Martin, who became a father to twin sons via a surrogate in 2008, said his recent revelation came as he began working on his memoirs. “From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time,” he wrote.
The star also said that disclosing his secret became important after the birth of his two sons, who were born via surrogate. “To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with,” Martin wrote.