As superstar of both Mexican telenovelas (soap op-eras) and Latin pop music, Thalia has won worldwide fame and adulation. Known for her sultry, romantic image, she had reached an almost goddess-like stature in some countries, such as the Philippines. She made news in the United States when she married Sony Music Entertainment chairman and CEO Tommy Mottola, who had previously been married to pop diva Mariah Carey.
Ariadne Sodi Miranda was born in Mexico in 1972, the youngest of five children. Her father died while she was a young child. At age nine, she joined Din-Din, a pop group made of children, and toured Mexico. Din-Din released four albums; their first, Alegrias musicales, was released in 1981. While performing in the band, Miranda continued to pursue her love of acting and dancing, taking the stage name of Thalia. She won a part as a chorus girl in Mexico City’s production of the musical Grease, and at age 13 she became the lead in the production. Firmly planted in the entertainment world, Thalia joined a popular vocal group called Timbiriche. She and the group released three albums.
Spending a year living in Los Angeles, California, Thalia felt ready to change her image. She decided to go solo and cut her debut album, Thalia, on Fonovisa in 1989. Producer and mentor Alfredo Diaz Ordaz produced all three of her Fonovisa albums, which include Mundo de cristal (1991) and Love (1992). While Thalia was experiencing great success in her career, she was devastated in 1994 when Diaz died from cancer. They had been engaged to marry.
All the while her musical career was taking off, Thalia continued to pursue acting. She appeared in numerous Mexican soap operas, including Luzy Sombra in 1989. Her breakthrough role came in Quinceanera, which ran in 1987. She won three career-defining roles in soap operas that would span the next four years. Playing the lead in 1992’s Maria Mercedes, 1994’s Marimar, and 1995’s Maria la del barrio, Thalia became a global celebrity. “[She] always portrayed a poor girl who found a way to become rich,” described Teresa Aguilera in Billboard. Thalia won fans everywhere, and was viewed by one billion people worldwide. Fans related to her romantic characters and were glued to the television sets whenever she appeared. Thalia explained to Billboard’s Leila Cobo, “In all my soaps, my characters have always been very real, very pueblo [of the people], very raza [the common race]. They get the opportunity to expand, but they’re Cinderella characters. And I’ve always had very direct contact with my audience. They don’t see me as unattainable.”
Whatever the reasons, Thalia’s success as a soap opera star was nothing short of phenomenal and translated to huge record sales for her albums. “Soaps give you a platform in places you can’t even imagine,” she told Cobo, “For example, in Greece … in Spain, too. My
Born Ariadne Sodi Miranda on August 26, 1972, in Mexico; married Tommy Mottola (a record company executive), December 2, 2000.
Performed on four albums as member of kiddie pop group Din-Din; performed in Mexico City staging of musical Grease, 1984; actress in telanouelas (soap operas), including Maria Mercedes, Marimar, and Maria la del barrio, joined vocal group Timbiriche, performed on three albums, 1986-89; signed with Fonovisa and released debut solo album, Thalia, 1989; signed with EMI Latin, 1994; released En extasis, which included hit single “Piel Morena,” 1995; contributed songs to the animated film Anastasia, 1997; released greatest hits album, Con banda grandes exitos, 2001; had film debut in English-language independent film Mambo Cafe.
Awards: Lo Nuestro Award, Best Female Regional Mexican Artist, 2002.
Addresses: Record company —EMI Latin, 404 Washington Ave., Suite 700, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Website —Thalia Official Website: http://www.thalia.com.
records sell in Turkey, the Philippines, countries where I would have never had the opportunity to be known and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had those roles and if my songs hadn’t played every single night on TV.”
In 1994 Thalia signed with EMI Latin, releasing En extasis in 1995. Emilio Estefan produced the album’s hit single “Piel Morena.” She took promotional tours to the United States, Brazil, and Southeast Asia, and toured Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, and the Dominican Republic in support of the album, and watched her sales reach top-ten levels throughout Latin America. Her visit to the Philippines in 1996, where Man Mar was the country’s favorite soap opera, revealed the extent of Thalia’s global fandom. The same week that a peace agreement was being signed with Muslim guerrillas and the Philippines were celebrating their centennial anniversary of their revolution, her week-long visit earned non-stop press coverage. Television carried her arrival as thousands gathered to catch a glimpse of her. Politicians fawned over Thalia, making sure they had their photos taken with her. In the Filipino Daily Inquirer, a reporter noted: “They are trying to escape from the ugliness around them… you can see Thalia descending like an apparition from Mount Olympus, and you can understand what the Filipinos are trying to escape into. They are trying to escape into beauty.” Many lawmakers were amazed that Filipinos were more interested in Thalia than the celebration of the Revolution.
Creating her own revolution of sorts, Thalia continued pursuing both her acting and musical careers. After the release of her second EMI Latin record, Amor a la mexicana in 1997, Thalia released NanditoAko, which includes songs sung in Tagalog, a Philippine idiom. The Mexico City Wax Museum placed a wax figure of Thalia in their museum. She also made forays into new businesses by creating two lines of lingerie and a Thalia doll, and appearing in her first Hollywood film, Mambo Cafe.
EMI Latin released Thalia’s Arrasando in 2000—a mix of rap, salsa, rap, and reggae set to a club beat. Her Con banda grandes exitos followed in 2001, a collection of her greatest pop hits backed by banda music, a brass-based traditional Mexican music. Exploring new venues, Thalia contributed to the soundtrack of the animated film Anastasia. At the same time her albums were climbing the charts, she made another popular soap opera called Rosalinda and watched the ratings soar. Billboard anointed her with their Star Award in 2001 in recognition of “artistic achievements [that] cross barriers beyond music.”
Cutting back from acting and concentrating on her music, Thalia courted an English-speaking audience with 2002’s Thalia, which includes three English-language tracks. According to Billboard reviewer Cobo: the album “has far more aggressive rock undertones than its namesake’s previous material, edgier arrangements that often rely on crunchy guitars, and a generally relaxed feel.” Thalia was attracting more attention in the United States for other reasons as well. She and Sony Music executive Mottola had married in December of 2000.
Promotional materials for Thalia accents the vocalist’s steamy soap opera image and while some in the press called for a recognition of Mexican female singers that don’t promote a sultry, Latin image, all indications pointed to massive worldwide sales. Thalia settled into a new home in Miami Beach, poised to work as hard as ever to promote her new album. Cobo felt her new album signaled a departure: she “has taken a quantum artistic leap that may mark the difference between her current musical success and mainstream stardom.”
Thalia, Fonovisa, 1989.
Mundo de cristal, Fonovisa, 1991.
Love, Fonovisa, 1992.
En extasis, EMI Latin, 1995.
Amor a la mexicana, EMI Latin, 1997.
Arrasando, EMI Latin, 2000.
Con banda grandes exitos, EMI Latin, 2001.
Thalia, EMI Latin, 2002.
Billboard, November 29, 1997, pp. 4, 12; April 28, 2001, p.24; December 8, 2001, p. 3; April 13, 2002, p. 11.
New York Times, August 27, 1996, p. A4.
“Cinderella Story,” Time, http://www.time.com/musicgoesglobal/la/mthalia.html (March 27, 2002).
“Thalia,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (April 2, 2002).
Thalia Official Website, http://www.thalia.com (April 2, 2002).
Born: Thalía Ariadna Sodi; Mexico City, Mexico, 26 August 1971
Best-selling album since 1990: Arrasando (2000)
Hit songs since 1990: "Piel Morena," "Amor a la Mexicana," "Arrasando"
As a singer and actress of the late 1990s, Thalía produced disposable but catchy and well-produced singles for enjoyment at discos and parties. Even as a child Thalía knew she wanted to be a star, and she relentlessly pursued her goal. From 1986 to 1989, she belonged to Mexico's hottest teen-pop group, Timbiriche. She credited that job to years of experience with the more obscure kiddy group Din Din, which she joined in 1980. Thalía has said she always knew she would never be content to be just another face in a group, even one as popular as Timbiriche.
Thalía recorded her self-titled debut album in 1989. She registered moderate sales for that effort and her 1991 follow-up, Mundo de Cristal. Expressing her admiration for the Doors, she adopted a neo-flower-child image for her pop persona. Meanwhile, she played a plucky, optimistic poor girl in the legendary "María" trilogy of Mexican soap operas between 1992 and 1995: María Mercedes, Marimar, and María la del Barrio.
Her recording career reached A-list status with the 1995 album En Extasis, produced by Emilio Estefan. Featuring the single "Piel Morena" ("Brown Skin"), the album was a huge success, helping to turn Estefan's Miami studios into a Latin hit factory that is today compared to Motown. An expression of cultural pride that fuses booming bass with the folksy, midtempo Colombian rhythm known as Cumbia, "Piel Morena" showcases Estefan's pan-Latin sensibilities. It was Estefan who introduced the singer to Sony Music president Tommy Mottola in 1997 at a New York restaurant. Mottola and Thalía married in December 2000.
Thalía teamed with Estefan again on Amor a la Mexicana (1997). A rollicking pop-cumbia fusion that celebrates Mexico's love of "horses, boots and sombrero; tequila, tobacco and rum," the album was significant for appealing to a broad range of Mexicans in the notoriously class-conscious country. The final entry in the Estefan-produced trilogy, Arrasando (2000), contains her usual mix of tropical/dance ear candy and throwaway ballads.
Always noncommittal about the "crossover" to English attempted by Latin artists such as Enrique Iglesias, Paulina Rubio, and Shakira, Thalía did record a few songs in English for Thalía (2002). A new version of Alan Shacklock's "The Mexican," with Marc Anthony on backing vocals, received some Top 40 airplay, and she also pays tribute to the 1980s music of her teenage years with a campy cover of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)," sung in an affected British accent.
As Thalía entered her thirties, she kept up the youthful public persona she has cultivated throughout her career while attempting to negotiate the tricky transition into more "mature" music and acting roles.
Love (Universal, 1993); En Extasis (EMI Latin, 1995); Amor a la Mexicana (EMI Latin, 1997); Arrasando (EMI Latin, 2000); Thalía (EMI Latin, 2002).