Mexico, and in turn much of the Spanish-speaking world, knew very few media superstars as illustrious as singer/actress Thalía, whose beauty and celebrity were practically unmatched during her prime. A media darling for most of her life, la mexicana rose to increasing fame throughout the 1990s, starring in popular telenovelas and releasing solo albums that capitalized on her television renown. By the end of the decade, Thalía was a chart-topping recording artist on the brink of extending her reach internationally, to the United States in particular.
Born Ariadna Thalía Sodi Miranda in Mexico City to parents Ernesto Sodi Pallares and Yolanda Miranda Mange on August 26, 1971, the singer/actress was the youngest of five daughters. She lost her father when she was five years old, and the loss had a devastating effect on her. As a youth, Thalía was a good student throughout her school years and studied ballet as well as piano. Even at such an early age, she aspired to be an actress and singer. She began singing professionally at age ten as part of the children's group Din Din, and shortly thereafter, in 1983, she embarked on an acting career, beginning with a TV Christmas special. Her music career was enhanced in 1986 when she replaced group member Sasha Diez Barroso in the popular teen pop act Timbiriche (whose members also included Paulina Rubio). And her acting career was likewise enhanced in 1987 when she joined the cast of the telenovela Pobre Seniorita Limantour, her first of several such roles.
In 1990 Thalía made her solo recording debut with a self-titled album, and in 1992 she began starring in a series of "Maria" telenovelas -- Maria Mercedes, Maria Mar, and Maria la del Barrio -- that earned her the title of la Reina de las Telenovelas (the Queen of the Telenovelas). Her acting certainly didn't hurt her recording career, though she did struggle to take her music to the heights of her acting. All of this began to change in 1995 when she moved from Fonovisa to EMI Latin and released her label debut, En Extasis, which featured her first major international hit, "Piel Morena," as well as her hit theme song, "Maria la del Barrio." Latin pop impresario Emilio Estefan, Jr. produced her next album, Amor a la Mexicana (1997), and it too met international success and was a much stronger album; her first great one. Estefan also produced her follow-up, Arrasando (2000), and it was an even bigger success, spawning five hit singles, one of which ("Entre el Mar y una Estrella") topped Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart, her first time doing so. The album also featured the hit theme song from her concurrent telenovela, Rosalinda.
Thalía's next album, Thalia (2002), was largely written and produced by Estéfano, the hitmaker who had taken Paulina Rubio's career to megastar heights two years earlier with Paulina. Buoyed by a pair of chart-topping singles ("No Me Enseñaste" and "Tu y Yo"), this album was Thalía's first to hit number one on the Top Latin Albums chart, reaching number 22 on the overall Billboard 200 chart, which itself was a supreme feat for a Spanish-language artist. In 2003 and 2004, a remix and greatest-hits album followed, respectively, and 2005 brought with it a new studio album, El Sexto Sentido, which, again written and produced primarily by Estéfano, met a relatively lukewarm reception. It didn't top the album chart, and its lead single, "Amar Sin Ser Amada," likewise failed to hit number one (in the stateside market, at least, as Thalía's popularity in her native Mexico remained more or less unmatched).
Beginning in the early 2000s, it should be noted, Thalía did try to cross over into the greater stateside market with English-language versions of her music. These concessions, however, fell flat time after time, which, along with the disappointing reception of El Sexto Sentido, suggested that Thalía's enormous success was receding in the wake of her 2000-2002 peak. Her celebrity remained intact, though, especially because she'd married music industry titan Tommy Mottola (former head of Sony as well as Mariah Carey's ex), the couple having celebrated the occasion with a three-million-dollar wedding in 2000. After giving birth to her first child in 2007, Thalía released Lunada the following year. Her first live offering, Primera Fila...Un Año Después appeared in 2009. After a long layoff to concentrate on family and then filming a live DVD, Thalía returned with Habítame Siempre in 2012. It quickly climbed the Latin pop chart. ~ Jason Birchmeier