Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in December of 1971, Ricky Martin is one of the most well-known Latin music stars today. He was attracted to the spotlight at an early age, starring in TV commercials by the age of eight as well as in theatre productions and telenovelas throughout his teens. At the age of 12, he became the youngest member of the popular Puerto Rican band, Menudo, and stayed with them for five years before returning to finish high school.
Martin made his solo music career debut at the age of 21 with his self-titled album. He found immediate success when the album sold 500,000 copies worldwide. Two years later his second album, Me Amarás, won him the award for Best New Latin Artist at the Billboard Video Awards. Martin would continue to expand his performance career by starring in the lead role in the 1994 Broadway production of Les Miserables.
Ricky Martin would become well-known in the United States with his 1999 crossover album in English, Ricky Martin. The album included the hit song, Livin' La Vida Loca, which boasted the highest sales Columbia Records had ever seen. That year he was also named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People." His next English-language album, Sound Loaded, included She Bangs as well as a duet with Christina Aguilera titled Nobody Wants to Be Lonely. These two albums firmly cemented his recognition and success as an international Latin pop star.
Despite all his commercial success, Ricky Martin has shown himself to be very concerned about worldwide issues. In addition to serving as a UNICEF ambassador, he also founded the Ricky Martin Foundation in 2002. He has most ardently spoken out against the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children throughout the world. Martin's work through his organization has earned him several humanitarian awards. Martin also made headlines in 2007 for criticizing President George W. Bush. After supporting his election in 2001, Martin later spoke out against the president for promoting the war in Iraq.
Ricky Martin's latest album, MTV Unplugged, has already been nominated for numerous awards.