Guzmán, Alejandra: 1968—: Rock Singer, Songwriter
Alejandra Guzmán: 1968—: Rock singer, songwriter
She's been called the Mexican Madonna and the bad girl of Latin pop. Mexican rock star Alejandra Guzmán indeed gained tabloid notoriety for her flesh-baring displays on stage and for a series of controversial moves and wrong turns in her personal life. Yet another way to regard Guzmán's career would be to identify her as a performer who has broken new ground for women in Latin American music. Guzmán's low, raspy voice is a distinctive instrument widely recognized all through the Spanish-speaking Americas, and she brought a new level of sexual frankness to Mexican popular music. In a world where female performers often act out the ideas of male impresarios, Guzmán has generally controlled the direction of her own career.
Born February 9, 1968, in Mexico City, Alejandra grew up in a hothouse atmosphere where her performing instincts were encouraged, making her first appearance on television at the age of two months and often traveling with her mother's dramatic company. "I was influenced by being born to two big stars," Guzmán told the San Antonio Express-News. Her father, Enrique Guzmán, was a Venezuelan-born performer who was one of the pioneers of rock en español in the 1960s and 1970s, and her mother, Silvia Pinal, was an actress who sang duets with her husband on their television program Silvia y Enrique— something like a Mexican Sonny and Cher. As a teenager she was cast along with her mother in a production of the musical Mame and decided that she wanted to make singing a career. Her parents insisted only that she finish high school.
Guzmán appeared for a few years in Mexican television soap operas while looking for a way to break into the music business. Her musical career took off in 1989 when she convinced Latin producer Miguel Blasco to helm her debut album Bye Mama. From the start Guzmán, who named the Rolling Stones and the throaty-voiced Janis Joplin and Billie Holiday as major influences, made a strong impact. It wasn't long before Mexican fans had proclaimed her "La Reina del Rock" or "The Queen of Rock."
Guzmán's second album Dame tu Amor, featuring classic-rock covers, eclipsed even its predecessor's strong showing and marked the beginning of her sexy stage show, featuring short miniskirts and a set of sensual dance moves that were explicit even by Latin pop standards. She accumulated a set of tattoos in the bikini-line area that male fans shouted for her to display as her concerts unfolded, and her daring image stoked her record sales as the Fonovisa label released roughly one Guzmán album a year. Her best-selling release was her third album, Eternamente Bella, which reportedly hit sales of a million copies within a year of its release. Guzmán's outrageous persona went from image to reality in 1992, however, when she announced that she was pregnant out of wedlock with her daughter Frida Sofía.
At a Glance . . .
Born on February 9, 1968, in Mexico City, Mexico; daughter of Enrique Guzmán (a musical performer) and Silvia Pinal (an actress); married Farrell Goodman, 1998 (divorced); daughter, Frida Sofía, born 1992.
Career: Stage performer, 1985–; singer, 1989–.
Selected awards: Latin Grammy award for Soy, 2001; Latin Grammy nomination for Algo Natural, 1999.
Addresses: Label— BMG U.S. Latin, 2100 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Ste. 825, Coral Gables, FL 33134. Web-site— www.aleguzman.com.
That caused major controversy, but Guzmán bounced back undaunted after a short hiatus, releasing a song called "Mala Hierba" as the leadoff single of her RCA-label album Libre and, more controversially still, posing semi-nude in a 1994 issue of Playboy magazine's Mexican edition. Guzmán defended her photo spread to the Houston Chronicle saying, "My intention was to do it with artistry, not something vulgar or horrible…. Also I did not show the expensive things, because for that I would have charged an incredible sum." Regardless of the controversial publicity, Libre, which featured songwriting contributions by Guzmán and reflected her heavy involvement in song selection and production, did well, landing in the top ten of Mexican album sales charts.
Nevertheless, Guzmán's career began to run into trouble as the 1990s wore on. She entered a rehab program for drug addiction, finally swearing off drugs permanently in 1997. Her music deepened as she began to include elements such as Middle Eastern and Indian instruments, and after the release of her 1996 album Cambio de Piel she began to gain fans in the United States beyond the usual circuit of Latin concert venues and compact disc shops. Guzmán married U.S. citizen Farrell Goodman in 1998, but the marriage didn't last—her husband was arrested and convicted on drug trafficking charges in Germany. Tabloid newspapers had a field day as Guzmán protested that she knew nothing of his illicit activities. To make things worse, Guzmán's daughter became the target of an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt.
Guzmán tried to get back to her roots and recharge by appearing on stage with her mother in the musical Gypsy, but her label RCA had become leery of the negative publicity surrounding its troubled rock star and put only desultory efforts into promoting her 1999 album Algo Natural. The company was also undergoing a reorganization at the time, leaving no one in charge of Guzmán's career. The album won critical praise and a Latin Grammy nomination, but it bombed commercially. Though People en Español had named Guzmán one of its "Year's Most Intriguing People" in 1998, she was displaced from her spot at the top of Mexico's gossip columns by singer Gloria Trevi, who was imprisoned in Brazil after being indicted on kidnapping and sexual assault charges.
Guzmán, having reached an age that few rock-star careers survive, could have given up. But she soldiered on, undertaking a U.S. tour and promoting the Algo Natural album on her own. After a time, things began to turn around. Mexican audiences warmed to her account of the Farrell Goodman fiasco, allowing her to make some degree of transition from bad girl to victimized spouse. And Guzmán drew on a large reservoir of fans who still flocked to her live appearances. An appearance at the Centro de Bellas Artes in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in February of 2001 mushroomed into a three-night stand as tickets were snapped up, and Guzmán's energetic performances were the talk of the Latin music industry.
Hiring Puerto Rican entertainment lawyer Alfredo Castellanos as her manager, Guzmán launched a full-scale comeback. Re-signed to RCA/BMG for a lucrative three-album deal, she recruited veteran Cuban-American rock producer Desmond Child for her next album, Soy ; Child in turn brought on board guitarist Joe Satriani and songwriters Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from the rock group Aerosmith. Guzmán helped to translate the Tyler-Perry contribution, "Soy tu Lluvia," into Spanish, and she herself co-authored the party anthem "Diablo." The album earned Guzmán a Latin Grammy award in 2002 for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and she gained a newly respectable image as a guest anchor for the Mexican network Televisa, at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Guzmán toured the continental United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico in 2002 and worked on a new album that was tentatively planned to include some English-language lyrics. Her concert schedule in 2003 included a May appearance with her father at Mexico City's National Auditorium. As Guzmán entered her second decade of stardom in the early 2000s, she had outlasted the idea that she had nothing more to offer than raunch or sensationalism.
Bye Mama, Fonovisa, 1989.
Dame tu Amor, Fonovisa, 1989.
Eternamente Bella, Fonovisa, 1990.
Lo Mas Prendido, Fonovisa, 1991.
Libre, RCA, 1993.
Enorme, RCA, 1994.
Al Borde de la Locura, Fonovisa, 1994.
De Piel Negra, Fonovisa, 1996.
Cambio de Piel, RCA, 1996.
La Guzmán (live), 1997.
Algo Natural, RCA, 1999.
Soy, RCA, 2001.
Alejandra Guzmán, Fonovisa, 2002.
Ellas Cantan Así, RCA, 2003.
Boston Globe, December 4, 1998, p. C6.
Chicago Sun-Times, November 18, 2000, p. 22.
Houston Chronicle, November 28, 1993, p. Zest-20; November 25, 2001, p. Zest-7.
Miami New Times, February 21, 2002.
San Antonio Express-News, February 21, 2003, p. H14.
"Alejandra Guzmán," All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com (May 22, 2003).
"Biografía," Alejandra Guzmán website, www.aleguzman.com (May 22, 2003).
—James M. Manheim
Nicknamed “la Guzmán” and “la Reina del Rock” (Queen of Rock), Alejandra Guzmán is Mexico’s bad girl of rock ‘n’ roll. The daughter of Mexican rock pioneer Enrique Guzmán, she has managed to establish herself as a major player in the rock en Español genre. Her records consistently produce hit singles and often reach platinum sales levels. True to her rock ‘n’ roll style, Guzmán has had her share of scandals but has overcome them while continuing to work hard, earning her first Latin Grammy Award in 2002 for her album Soy.
Born Alejandra Gabriela Guzmán Pinal on February 9, 1968, to Enrique Guzmán, an actor and singer, and Sylvia Pinal, an actress, Guzmán made her first television appearance at two months old on her famous parents’ variety show, Sylvia y Enrique. As a child she studied dance, including jazz, ballet, and tap. She was interested in the entertainment industry, but she had promised her mother that she would finish her education before making a commitment.
Guzmán started out touring with her mother’s theater company, performing in a production of Mame. Later she acted in several episodes of Mujer: Casos de la Vida Real, which was produced by Pinal. Unsure at first whether to focus on dancing or singing, in 1988 she worked with the famous Mexican producer Miguel Blasco on her first album Bye Mama. When the album earned gold record sales, her decision was made. Its two singles “Bye Mama” and “La Plaga” rocketed up the charts won Guzmán several best new artist awards. She followed her debut success with Dame Tu Amor in 1989; the album went platinum and earned her a number of singer of the year awards. She was also recognized for her philanthropy, receiving an award from the AIDS Health Foundation as well as the Mexican Association for Kids with Cancer.
Her third album, Eternamente Bella, released in 1990, earned triple platinum sales. With the release of this album, Guzmán began to tour the Americas extensively, making stops in Central and South American as well as the United States. Still more awards followed, along with her film debut in the comedy Verano Peligroso. In 1991 she released Flor de Papel, which went double platinum.
While Guzmán continued to score chart hits, the 1990s were a tumultuous time in her personal life. In 1992 she gave birth to her daughter, Frida Sofia, but later separated from the child’s father. Six years later she married Farrell Goodman, but when he was arrested in Germany for drug possession a month after their wedding, Guzman promptly divorced him. She has also admitted that during the 1990s she had drug problems of her own, from which she has since recovered. Adding to the controversy, she posed for Playboy Mexico in 1994.
Guzmán continued to release successful albums despite the turmoil in her private life. Adhering to a demanding schedule, she released the double platinum album Libre in 1993, followed by Enorme in 1994. Her 1996 release Cambio de Piel, which highlights her tough, sexy voice, is a guitar-driven pop-rock effort that produced the hit singles “Todo la Mitad,” and “Ven,” which topped international charts and received impressive amounts of airplay in the United States. She finished the decade with two more popular releases: a live album in 1997, La Guzmán, and Algo Natural in 1999.
The advent of crossover stars such as Ricky Martin and Shakira gave Guzmán an opportunity to reach a wider audience. She turned to American producer Desmond Child, who has worked with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and Kiss, to produce her 2001 album Soy. Child co-wrote the song “Soy Tu Lluvia” with Aerosmith band members Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, and rock guitarist Joe Satriani also made an appearance on the song “Labio de Fuego.” The album was an overwhelming success, earning her a Latin Grammy for Female Pop Artist of the Year and a Rock en Español Artist of the Year award at the 2002 Ritmo Latino Music awards.
Guzmán, a frequent performer in the United States, contributed to the 2001 Hispanics United for New York benefit concert in Madison Square Garden, which raised funds for the families of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as well as those affected by the crash of American Airlines flight 587 two months later. In March 2002 she was chosen as the Fiesta Queen for 13th annual Fiesta Broadway Cinco de
Born on February 9, 1968, in Mexico City, Mexico, to Silvia Pinal (an actress) and Enrique Guzmán (a rock singer and actor); married Farrell Goodman, 1998; divorced, 1998; children: Frida Sofia.
Performed onstage with her mother in the musical Mame, 1985; released debut album, Bye Mama, 1988; released album of covers, Dame Tu Amor, and appeared in the comedy film Verano Peligroso, 1989; released her most successful album, Eternamente Bella, 1990; followed by Flor de Papel, 1991; Libre, 1993; and Enorme, 1994; posed for P/ayboy Mexico, 1994; released Cambio de Piel, 1996 and live album La Guzmán, 1997; appeared in Gypsy with her mother, 1998; released A/go Natural, 1999, and Soy, 2001; chosen as Fiesta Queen for McDonald’s 13th annual Fiesta Broadway Cinco de Mayo celebration in Los Angeles and performed at Billboard’s Latin Music Awards, 2002; presenter at Univision’s Premio Lo Nuestro Latin Music Awards and performed with father, Enrique Guzmán, at Mexico City’s National Auditorium, 2003.
Awards: TV y Novelas, Best New Artist, 1988; Estrella de Plata, Best New Artist, 1988; Palmas de Oro, Best New Artist, 1988; Sol de Oro y TV Idolos, Best New Artist, 1988; ERES magazine, Singer of the Year, 1990; TV y Novelas, Most Outstanding Artist of the Year, 1990; Galardon a Los Grandes, Pop-Rock Singer of the Year, 1990; ERES magazine, Album of the Year, 1991; Premio de la Gente, Ritmo Latino Music Awards, Female Pop Artist of the Year and Rock en Español Artist of the Year, 2002; Latin Grammy Award, Best Rock Solo Vocal Album for Soy, 2002.
Addresses: Record company—BMG Latin America, 2100 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Penthouse Ste., Coral Gables, FL 33134.
Mayo celebration in Los Angeles. In April she performed at the ceremonies for the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Private hardships followed Guzmán in the new millennium. Her 2003 wedding to Gerardo Gomez de la Borbolla was postponed when she miscarried in late April. Guzmán blamed the miscarriage on the Mexican press, which had printed reports earlier in the month that Borbolla was under investigation for both vehicle theft and credit card fraud.
A member of Mexico’s entertainment royalty, “la Reina del Rock” expresses a strong sense of pride in her nationality. Discussing the tendency of some Latin music stars to play down their origins, she told CBS News “I won’t dye my hair or try to be an American because I’m not. I love my culture. I love my language, and that’s why my music is in Spanish.” Despite her plans to release an album that may include some songs in English, Guzmán appears determined to maintain her distinctive style.
Bye Mama, Fonovisa, 1988.
Dame Tu Amor, Fonovisa, 1989.
Eternamente Bella, Fonovisa, 1990.
Flor de Papel, Fonovisa, 1991.
Libre, RCA, 1993.
Enorme, RCA, 1994.
Cambio de Piel, RCA, 1996.
La Guzmán, RCA, 1997.
Algo Natural, RCA, 1999.
Soy, RCA, 2001.
Ella Cantan Así, RCA, 2003.
Business Wire, March 18, 2002; October 26, 2002.
PR Newswire, December 7, 2001.
“Alejandra Guzmán,” El Sitio Musical MP3, http://www.mp3.lolatino.com/alejandraguzman.html (July 2, 2003).
“Rocker Guzman Takes Career to New Level with Soy,” Houston Chronicle,http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/features/burr/1142285 (June 18, 2003).
“Sanz Sweeps Latin Grammys Again,” CBSNews.com, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/09/18/entertainment/printable522428.shtml (June 18, 2003).
“What’s New with Alejandra Guzman,” LaMusica.com, http://statistics.lamusica.com/main/alejandraguzman_int030801.shtml (July 3, 2003).
—Eve M. B. Hermann