Gloria Trevi Finds Redemption in New 'Gloria!' Album
In her new single, "Me Rio de Ti" (I Laugh at You), Mexican diva Gloria Trevi happily belts: "And I spend my time dancing, singing, doing so much with you . . . creating my eternal life with you. And when I remember your name, I laugh at you."
Through her lyrics, Trevi has candidly chronicled her rise to stardom in the early '90s as the rebellious "Mexican Madonna." She became an international icon. She fell from grace. And now she rises again.
"Throughout my career I've always been like an open book, and very coherent in my [musical] evolution," says Trevi, who will sit for an exclusive Q&A at the Billboard Latin Music Conference on April 27. "You can dress the monkey in silk, but I'm still that monkey. And I like being how I am."
Now, at 43, Trevi's new album, titled "Gloria!," features the artist in her prime. She has new management: Mexico City-based Westwood Entertainment, which also handles pop group Camila. She's more than a year into her new marriage to businessman Armando Gomez, with whom she's raising her two children. And her album-her first studio set for Universal Music Latino-is a priority for the label. This marks the first time a Trevi album will be released simultaneously throughout Latin America, and in digital format in Spain.
"New generations are discovering her as a new act, because she was out of sight during much of the 2000s," says Jesus Lopez, chairman of Universal Music Latin America/Iberian Peninsula. "Gloria was my first new-artist release when I arrived in Mexico [as head of BMG]. And my first to sell over 1 million copies of her debut."
It's hard to overstate just how ubiquitous Trevi was in her '90s heyday. She was her own creation, an iconoclast. She fabricated her own look-torn stockings, wild hair, extravagant outfits-her own choreography, wrote her own songs and articulated what millions of sequestered Mexican girls wanted to say. In her song "Dr. Psiquiatra," Trevi screamed from a fifth-floor window: "I'm not crazy. I'm just desperate!"
Trevi released hit albums in quick succession, sold millions of pin-up calendars, starred in two hit Mexican films and, buoyed by approving editorials from a cadre of Mexican intellectuals, even announced her intention to run for president.
But the avalanche of success came to a grinding halt in 1999 when a former backup singer, Aline Hernandez, wrote a book saying that she and others had been sexually abused and tortured by Trevi and her then-manager, Sergio Andrade. Criminal complaints were filed. Trevi fled to Brazil. She was captured and jailed there in 2000.
Trevi spent four years and eight months in prison, charged with the corruption of minors, rape and kidnapping. In 2002, while in imprisoned in Brazil, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Angel Gabriel. After much speculation, paternity tests confirmed his father was Andrade. Shortly after her son's birth, Trevi returned to Mexico to face charges. She set up a makeshift recording studio in prison, but on Sept. 21, 2004, she was acquitted on all charges, and freed. She walked out of jail polished, and elegant, clad in a white halter top.
"I have my memories, but they're good memories," Trevi says now. "I'm the most positive person on the planet and I don't want to forget the moment I held that little boy in my arms and he gave me back my will to fight. Those are life lessons."
Trevi quickly resumed her recording and touring career. She released one studio album (with Sony, which had acquired BMG), "Como Nace el Universo." It sold 63,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But she truly re-established herself in 2007 when she signed with Univision Records for "Una Rosa Blu," an album of far greater emotional depth. Although it sold 85,000 U.S. copies, according to SoundScan, in Mexico it was certified platinum for shipments of 100,000 copies (according to Amprofon)-a major accomplishment-and yielded a handful of singles, most notably "Cinco Minutos," which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart and became an anthem in Mexico. When Universal acquired Univision Music in 2009, Trevi's contract transferred to Universal, and, in a happy coincidence, back to Lopez's hands.
"Our main goal is to . . . solidify her place as a true Latin entertainment icon," Universal Music Latino/Machete president Walter Kolm says. "We made sure only top-of-the-line producers were involved in crafting a sound that not only defended the soundscapes and bravado Gloria is known for, but also pushed the envelope. Gloria herself has a brand-new outlook that clearly resonates in her lyrics, showcasing a happier and energetic aura."
"Gloria!" is almost entirely uptempo. Produced by two-time Billboard Latin producer of the year Armando Avila (who produced "Una Rosa Blu" and has worked with David Bisbal and Luis Fonsi, among others) and Sebastian Jacome, the album is high-gloss pop, endowed with catchy hooks and colloquial lyrics.
"In the beginning I was the crazy chick, the one with the long hair who stuck her tongue out at a society of hypocrites," Trevi says. "Then they broke my heart, and while I was still that girl who could criticize, I was also in pain, like the protester who's tortured in prison. And today I've become 'Me Rio de Ti.' Because I'm that girl, and I speak with the authority of someone who knows what she's saying, and who deserves to have more fun."
The video for "Me Rio de Ti," which Trevi co-wrote with Balta Hinojosa and is No. 36 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, has had 1.2 million hits on Vevo. Directed by Colombian filmmaker Gustavo Garzon, the clip features Trevi romping with abandon-in pink and black spandex-at a surreal party that evokes memories of her tousled teenage rebelliousness, despite her now-sleek, blonde mane.
"She looks better than ever," Universal Music Latino/Machete GM Luis Estrada says. "One of the key strategies was to give the single gigantic exposure beyond radio, and for that reason, we've slated a national TV campaign with Univision that runs for a whole month. It's the biggest campaign Universal Latino has ever had previous to an album release."
In addition to Trevi's appearances on most Spanish-language national TV shows (she premiered "Me Rio de Ti" on Univision's Premios Lo Nuestro last month, wearing a red cat suit and backed by a troupe of lingerie-clad dancers) and on Univision's channel 34 in Los Angeles-Trevi's biggest market-Universal Latino will run 120 spots in 20 days promoting an event with Univision's Spanish adult contemporary radio station KLVE.
Universal is also selling a special boxed set available only online. It includes one-of-a-kind items like a comic book illustrated by Trevi. In addition, Universal has contracted Miami-based promotion/event production company Granda Entertainment to work "Me Rio de Ti," through multiple remixes, in the club circuit and the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community. "She did gay pride parades in Long Beach [Calif.] and San Francisco [during promotion of "Una Rosa Blu"] and it gave her so much force to continue to work," Granda Entertainment CEO Joe Granda says. "She saw this audience who really supported her. It was an integral part of her comeback."
A major part of Trevi's promotion hinges on her live shows. Her 2007 Una Rosa Blu tour lasted more than two years and included 300-plus shows worldwide, with 21 stateside concerts. "She's great. "She's great at selling tickets, and we're working together with Universal to coordinate her tour through Latin America and the U.S.," says Jorge Juarez, who manages Trevi with David Westwood. Trevi's official tour, which Westwood also books, kicks off in May-nearly 80 shows are set for Mexico. Westwood is in conversations with several U.S. promoters to close approximately 20 dates in what would be Trevi's first full-fledged U.S. tour in more than a decade.
"I've always thought I'll keep on doing this as long as I'm young and have the strength," Trevi says. "I've been compared to Madonna and [Brazilian pop star] Xuxa, but I think I'm more akin to Tina Turner because of my energy. Sometimes I end the shows full of bruises from throwing myself to the floor."