Singer Margarita (María de Santa Teresita Gaviria) has earned the nickname "The Goddess of Cumbia," due to her pivotal role in the development of Colombian cumbia as it evolved to become a successful commercial genre in Mexico. Born in Medellin in 1960, as a teenager she started singing at friends' parties and at events and hotels, and soon decided to try her luck as a professional. After recording some discs of ballads and jingles for radio and television, she cut a few singles and albums for Discos Fuentes. In 1986, producer Víctor Nanni summoned her to sing with the group La Sonora Dinamita, who were very popular in both Colombia and Mexico. Beginning her career with them as a guest vocalist, she earned the principal vocalist spot and moved permanently to Mexico. After working with La Sonora Dinamita for six years, Margarita opted to go solo, founding the group La Sonora de Margarita.
Since her 1991 solo debut, Bailable y Tropical, Margarita has released more than two dozen albums and compilations that include cumbias, boleros, vallenatos, and even pop songs. Beginning with that album, she was voted Best Interpreter of Tropical Music for eight consecutive years by the influential journal Furia Musical. (She has also won the Premios Oye! four times.) In 1996, Mis Cinco Sentimientos topped radio airplay and Latin album charts in Mexico. Subsequent recordings, such as Oye, La Cumbia del Aida, La Suita, and La Cortina, all achieved gold and/or platinum status in Mexico.
In 2005, she released the audio-video disc package Margarita Sinfónica. Commemorating her 25th year as a professional entertainer, it featured the singer fronting her own band and the State Symphony Orchestra of Puebla in a program of cumbias, boleros, and mariachis. It included duets with La Banda el Recodo, Bacilos, and El Grupo Pesado. Two years later, Margarita appeared in two major Mexican television programs: Cantando por un Sueño and Los Reyes de la Canción, which also featured music and cultural legends such as Jose Jose, Maria Conchita Alonso, Ricardo Montaner, and Yuri. Her 2008 offering Tentaciones featured the nuevo cumbia single "Colegiala" in duet with the band Calo. The same year she appeared in 12 episodes of the telenovela Fuego en la Sangre and on the album Las Mujeres de Manzanero -- she was invited by the composer and singer Armando Manzanero himself.
In 2009, Margarita released the platinum date Me Quedo Contigo; regarded as her most "danceable" album, it featured the singer in duet with Aleks Syntek on the single "Si Superias." In 2010, she celebrated her 30th anniversary with another audio-video concert package, 30 Años de Cumbia; its sales achieved double gold and platinum status. For 2012's La Musa, Margarita received her fourth Oye! Award, for Mejor Solista de Música Latina. She followed it the same year with another album, Por Fin...Boleros! She was awarded the Grado de Caballero from the Colombian government for her career efforts in spreading the folk music and cultural identity of that country abroad. In 2013, Margarita played the Gibson Theater in Los Angeles for the first time, resulting in the roots music effort Desde Mis Raices. She followed it in 2015 with the studio effort Sin Fronteras, led by the single "Te Di Todo." She also published her autobiography, El Lugar Donde Habitan Tus Sueños. Near the end of 2016 she issued the pre-release single "El Cable" (featuring Ab Quintanilla); it placed on several streaming and digital charts. ~ Mariano Prunes & Thom Jurek