Often hailed as "the Mexican Madonna," charting and award-winning singer and songwriter Gloria Trevi is not only one of the most daring and cutting-edge Latin stars of all time, she's also one of the most important. She is well-known for feminist sociopolitical lyrics that turns the tables on machismo by expressing its own desire and an always compelling, sometimes provocative stage show. In addition to her musical career, Trevi is also a sophisticated dancer, actress, television hostess, and successful entrepreneur. Four decades into her career, she remains a top-tier concert draw who sells out venues months in advance and has regularly appeared on the top rungs of the Latin charts since the 1989 single "Dr. Psiquiatra" off her debut album, Qué Hago Aqui? topped the charts. She has four number one albums — as recently as 2017, Versus, a duo set with fellow rebel Alejandra Guzman, topped the chart, with half-a-dozen more in the Top Ten and a startling array of singles that have been equally successful.
Trevi was born Gloria de los Angeles Treviño on February 15, 1968 in Monterrey, Mexico. Growing up, Trevi was not only interested in Latin music but was seriously into American and British rock and listened to Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Deep Purple, Pat Benatar, and Janis Joplin (among others) extensively. Against her mother's wishes, Trevi left home when she was only 12 and moved from Monterrey to Mexico City to pursue a career in the arts. At first, life in Mexico City was a struggle for Trevi, who survived by doing everything from singing on the streets for money to selling tacos to teaching aerobics.
After briefly singing with the all-female group Boquita Pintadas in the mid-'80s, Trevi became a full-time solo artist and recorded her debut solo album, Qué Hago Aqui?, in 1989. Released on an independent Mexican label, that album and its lead single, "Dr. Psiquiatra" (which made it to number one on the Latin charts), were a smash — and in 1990, Trevi landed a deal with RCA/BMG's Latin division. By 1993 she had sold more than five million albums overall. The Mexican Madonna was selling out large venues all over Latin America, where she embraced mostly Spanish-language material but also performed covers of songs by Zeppelin, the Doors, and other English-speaking rockers on-stage. Between her albums, live performances, and racy pinup calendars (which sold millions of copies), someone who had been dirt poor as a child had become one of Mexico's wealthiest, most affluent and famous women.
In the early '90s, Trevi was extremely controversial. The thing that made her so shocking to social conservatives in Mexico and other Latin American countries was her image — as defiantly and blatantly sexual as Prince or Madonna. Like those artists, Trevi promoted sexual freedom in a very in-your-face way. Trevi wasn't the only female artist of Mexican descent who was often compared to Madonna in the '90s; the late Tejano star Selena (a bilingual Chicana from Texas) was also described as one of Madonna's Mexican counterparts. But Selena, for all her sex appeal, was never as controversial or over the top as Trevi, whose live performances went out of their way to shock, taunt, and offend social conservatives. Trevi's antics included wearing a bandolier of condoms across her bare chest and bringing young male fans on-stage so that she could strip them down to their underwear.
But there was more to Trevi than shock value and titillation — much, much more. Her material often had a decidedly feminist outlook, and she brought a sociopolitical perspective to topics like drugs, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and abortion. Upsetting social conservatives was exactly what Trevi set out to do; in many respects, she was the Mexican equivalent of a riot grrrl. Some Latino journalists have compared her to Irish agitator Sinéad O'Connor — a very outspoken feminist — and Trevi was often quoted as saying that she hoped to run for president of Mexico someday; in fact, one of her pinup calendars depicted her as a nude presidential candidate.
Más Turbada Que Nunca, released in 1994, became her fourth consecutive album to top the charts in Mexico, and two tracks hit the top of the Latin charts in America ("El Recuento de los Daños" and the title track to a film, "La Papa Sin Catsup"). Si Me Llevas Contigo was released the following year. In 2004, her sixth full album, Cómo Nace el Universo, became a big hit in both Mexico and the U.S., where it eventually reached platinum status. The live album La Trayectoria followed in 2007, as did another studio effort, Una Rosa Blu, which became her first to crack Billboard's Top 200. The self-titled Gloria followed in 2011, followed by a live album, a compilation, and in 2013, De Pelicula.
The album reached number two on various charts and topped others. Its success was in part due to the track "Libre Para Amart." Though it wasn't released as a single, it was performed by Trevi in her first starring role as Aurora Valencia, in the telenovela ¿Quién Mató a Patricia Soler? Trevi's next album, Amor, issued in August of 2015, topped the Latin albums charts. It was her second to do so after 2011's Gloria, and and her tenth album to make the Top Five. The hits compilation Pelo Suelto Con... Mis Número Uno followed in 2017. She and sister, Latin rock legend Alejandra Guzman, teamed for the studio effort Versus, issued in June on Sebastian Krys' Rebeleon Entertainment label. The album proved a vehicle for Latin American and U.S. tours of major arenas. It debuted at number one on the Top Latin Albums chart, the first-ever collaborative date to do so. It marked Trevi's fourth number one and Guzman's first. In 2018 she was inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. 2019's Diosa de la Noche (Goddess of the Night) offered yet another twist on her legend. Lead single and video "Abranse Perras" (Outta My Way, Bitches), was an expression of solidarity with the LGBQ+ community. In addition to the street-smart pop melodies and staggered beats, she was accompanied by a chorus trio of drag friends (Valentina, Jessica Wild, Cynthia La Fountaine and Ricky Lips) who are all dressed to the nines as they as crash a party of handsome but utterly boring people whom they rescue with joy. Released in May, the set debuted inside the Top 100. ~ Alex Henderson