Born to Carlos Humberto Valenzuela Priego (died 2007), a medical doctor, and Dulce Canseco, she was the youngest of three; one brother, Carlos Valenzuela Canseco, and sister, Yamili Valenzuela Canseco. Her grandfather is of Cuban descent. During her childhood she studied ballet; at age nine she received a scholarship to study ballet at the famous
Russia. However, due to her age and the prospect of having their young daughter living in a foreign country her parents declined. A few years later, her mother in compensation allowed her to join a garage band in Veracruz called Yuri y La Manzana Eléctrica. The band played at fiestas and important festivals around the city of Veracruz; at one of these festivals she had the opportunity to sing with Celia Cruz. During another performance, Julio Jaramillo, an executive producer from the recording studio Gamma, discovered her talent as a singer. Julio Jaramillo proposed a record deal, and urged her to move to
Mexico City. Her parents had an altercation over the future of their younger daughter. Her father wanted her to pursue a college degree, and her mother, convinced of Yuri's talent and charisma, supported her artistic endeavor. In the mid-1970s, she and her mother left the rest of the family in Veracruz to pursue a record deal in
Mexico City without her father's consent or economic support.
Once they arrived in Mexico City, her mother became her manager. At first, they struggled economically until Yuri finally started recording her first album. Her mother was an effective manager and had to fight the record executives to fulfill their verbal contract with her daughter. Yuri's first album, Tú Iluminas Mi Vida, was released on Gamma Records in 1978. The title track was a cover of the
Debby Boone smash hit "
You Light Up My Life". The album went almost unnoticed. In the same year, she obtained a role in the movie Milagro en el circo. Later that year she co-hosted with
Cepillín on the TV show, En Familia con Chabelo.
Rise to stardom
In 1979, Yuri represented Mexico in
Festival OTI; she was disqualified because the song she sang, "Siempre Hay un Mañana" by Irasema, was seen as plagiarism "
McArthur Park" sung by
Donna Summer. During the competition, the judge panel decided, unanimously, that she be awarded the "Award for the Best New Female Artist". The new award convinced the executive producer, Julio Jaramillo, to record a second album titled Yuri. This album gave Yuri her first hit, "Esperanzas", and helped her to appear in the Mexican soap operas Colorina and Veronica. Shortly after recording her second album, Yuri embarked on an international concert tour in Central and South America, the Caribbean and the United States. "Primer Amor", "Goma de Mascar" and "Regresarás" are the most popular songs in Latin America. In 1981, she sang the song "Deja" by
José María Napoleón in the Festival OTI, being placed third in the category of "The Best Female Singer".
In 1982, Yuri recorded her third album and her first gold record in Latin America and Spain, Llena de Dulzura, with the hits "Mi Timidez", "Llena de Dulzura", "Tú y Yo", "Este Amor Ya No Se Toca" and "Maldita Primavera" (the Spanish version of the song "Maledetta Primavera" by the Italian singer Loretta Goggi). In the same year, she recorded a single, "El Pequeño Panda De Chapultepec", dedicated to
Tohui, one of the first pandas born in captivity in Mexico. It sold a million copies in the first year.
She was later invited to the Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar in Chile. She won the award "Antorcha de plata", the first female Mexican singer to receive this award. In 1983, Yuri continued to prevail in the Latin entertainment industry with a popular fourth album, Yuri, Te Amo, Te Amo and her second movie, Rapto en Acapulco.
1984 was a particularly successful year for Yuri. Her fifth album, Karma Kamaleón was a hit that dominated the music charts in Latin America. Yuri decided to participate in Festival OTI for a third time and sang "Tiempos Mejores" by
Sergio Andrade. She won the national competition to represent Mexico at the International Festival OTI, but she came in third place in the category of "Best Female Singer".
In 1985, Yuri signed a contract with EMI to record the album,
Yo Te Pido Amor, which was nominated for a
Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Performance and included the hits "Dejala" and "Dame un Beso". During the
TV y Novelas Award ceremony she fled with Fernando Iriarte, the son of the television personality
Maxine Woodside. Yuri married Iriarte that year, and she held a press conference afterwards when she revealed the internal conflicts of her family and her wishes for independence. Iriarte replaced her mother as manager. Despite being a novice, he proved to be quite efficient, giving Yuri a more sophisticated sound and image. A few months later, she appeared in
Playboy but she did not pose nude. In 1986, Yuri was released; "¿Es ella más que yo?" and "Un Corazon Herido" are the two major hits that made it another great year for her.
In 1987, Yuri participated in the Festival OTI for the last time and was disqualified. She sang "La Locura de Vivir" and it was considered a major mistake in her career. Shortly after she was baptized into the Catholic Church so that she could be married through the church with Iriarte. In the same year she recorded her most successful record, Aire, with the hits "¿Qué Te Pasa?" and "Cuando Baja La Marea"; the album was a super hit in all of Latin America and the United States. One of her biggest hit songs from this era, heard widely on Spanish radio and in dance clubs, was the up-tempo "Que Te Pasa?" written by
José Ramón Florez. This single is the second longest-running female single of all time in the Billboard
Hot Latin Songs chart (second to
Shakira with "
La Tortura"), spending 16 weeks at number one in
1988 and the fourth one in general.
Aire dominated the music charts which helped her sign a record deal with
Sony Music to produce the album
Isla del Sol. This was her most diverse record yet and included remnants of dance, rap, pop and balads, including the songs "
Hombres al Borde de un Ataque de Celos", "Imposible Amarte Como Yo", "No Puedo Más" and "Hola". In the same year, she received the
Lo Nuestro a la Música Latina award. Later that year, an American actor,
Don Johnson, asked her to record a duet called "A Better Place", which is her only English-language musical recording to date. In September 1989, she recorded her tenth album, Sui Generis; the album did not sell as well as her previous albums. Yuri's 1980s albums and singles often reached the top of the charts, earning her several gold albums in Mexico alone.
At the end of 1989, she revealed that she was separating from her husband. After her divorce, she released a new album, Soy Libre. Three months after release, the album sold more than half a million copies. Five singles dominated the Latin charts: "El Apagon", "Todo Mi Corazon", "Quien Eres Tu" and "Sabes lo Que Pasa". Yuri broke another sales record when an edition of Playboy titled "Sin Límites" was published; she received admiration and criticism from her fans. At the same time her fans were comparing her to
Madonna and American celebrity journalists were speaking of a possible rivalry between the two stars on the program Hard Copy.
 In late 1990, Yuri and
Ricky Martin filmed a risque music video for her hit single "Todo mi corazón".
In 1991, she starred in her first female lead in the movie Soy Libre along with
Omar Fierro. In the same year, the album Isla del Sol was made in Brazil for which she recorded four songs in Portuguese. A year later, she had a makeover by dying her hair red in an effort to help promote her new album, Obsesiones. Her new appearance and album were not readily accepted by her fans. Despite her previous record, in 1993 Yuri released the album Nueva Era which was a success with the tracks "
Detrás de Mi Ventana", by
Ricardo Arjona and "Amiga Mía". The album dominated the Latin music charts once again. In 1994, Yuri and fellow pop star
Chayanne were the stars of
Volver a Empezar, a
telenovela that was panned by critics but earned big ratings for
Televisa, and Univision in the United States.
Wedding, Christian-music career
In 1995, Yuri promoted a new album,
Espejos del Alma. At the same time she was diagnosed with tumors in her vocal cords. This diagnosis became a pivotal moment in her life. She looked for possible solutions to her ailment and soon became a born-again
Christian and stopped singing secular music. In that year she married Rodrigo Espinoza, a
Chilean musician. At the time, she had expressed considerable regret for her past life, confessing that she had become a
sex addict and that she would demand sex from anyone she found attractive enough after drinking even minor quantities of
alcohol, even to the point of missing professional appearances while indulging in sexual marathons. She then visited numerous Christian congregations in Mexico and abroad, gave testimony to the radical change she had experienced, and warning young people against the dangers of
promiscuity and unprotected sex.
After many struggles her tumor disappeared. In appreciation of her recovery she dedicated an album to God in the mariachi genre titled Más Fuerte Que la Vida; that year she was recognized as the "Reina VI del Festival Mundial de Mariachis". The album was well received by her fans, but did not sell well. She asked her record label, Sony Music, to allow her to retire so that she could dedicate more time to herself. As she left the Latin pop music stage, many artists like,
Christina Aguilera and
Gloria Trevi, took advantage of the gap and many fans soon looked elsewhere for music icons.
In 1997, she starred in her autobiography, Yuri, Mi Verdadera Historia and once again sang with Celia Cruz. She decided to record music again, but of a different kind, gospel. She found a company that would allow her to sing Christian music. The music label, Poligram, recorded her new single "Sabor a Mi" which was supposedly going to be part of a new album that took almost the rest of the year to be produced. The album, Mi Testimonio, was produced but was only distributed among Christian music libraries in Latin America.
In 1998, Yuri decided to release a new Christian record titled
Huellas in the inspirational pop genre. The album included the single "Y Tú ¿Cómo Estás?", a cover version of "E tu come stai" by Italian singer-songwriter
Claudio Baglioni, and became a Latin top 10 hit. Soon after, she finally decided she was really going to leave the entertainment business to dedicate herself to her new faith and family. Yuri continued to use her fame and fortune to help people around the world. Two years later, she decided to record a new Christian record in the United States titled Yuri: Que Tu Fe Nunca Muera. This was not commercially available but was circulated by Christian congregations throughout Latin America.
The struggle to come back
In 2002, after four years absence from mainstream Latin entertainment, Yuri signed a contract with
Televisa to compile her thirty best hits into an album titled Mis 30 Mejores Canciones. She promoted the album on several Latin TV shows and singing her old songs with a new twist.
She soon signed a new contract with a record label
Español MUXXIC. Her new album, Enamorada with the single "Ya No Vives en Mi", did not reflect the level of success she had had in the 1980s and early 1990s. Media critics and fans agreed that the CD proved that Yuri was still a powerful and diverse pop artist. Regardless of her talent, her absence had taken a toll, and some tracks barely made the top ten in a few countries like "Baile Caliente" in Chile.
In 2004, she went back to Sony Music and released a new album titled Yuri, A lo Mexicano, but this had even more disappointing sales, partially due to the lack of promotion.
The come back
In 2006, Yuri released an album with the Mexican singer,
Acompáñame. This album was her first to be certified gold in almost a decade
 Yuri promoted the album, mostly duet ballads as a tribute to
Camilo Sesto. The album produced the single "Callados" which reached the top of the charts once again. Acompañame reached platinum in Mexico. The success of the album opened the door for her to become a judge in the reality TV show,
Cantando Por Un Sueño, similar to
American Idol. Later, she was also asked to host the reality show Objetivo Fama, a talent show produced by
Telefutura that is broadcast to the United States and Puerto Rico. Univision fired Yuri as the host of the show for unknown reasons.
In February 2007, she recorded a live show at the Metropolitan Theatre in Mexico City that was released as a CD/DVD. The album from that concert, Yuri: Vive La Historia, reached platinum in Mexico despite minimal promotion. In January 2008, Yuri was asked to host the Televisa series
Noche de estrellas. She has used this forum to continue to promote her career by performing with current and past Latin music icons like
Juanes. Later that year, she released another album, Mi Hijita Linda. From February 14, 2009, to March 26, she sold out concerts in the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, where she made a tribute to Madonna. In July 2009, Yuri announced that she would adopt a seven-month-old little girl, Camila.
Yuri’s Inusual album was released on June 22, 2010, the 23rd record in her 30-year career. The album was produced by Scott Erickson and has eight new songs and five covers. The album reached number one in Mexico in the first week after its release and, in less than a month, became a gold album in Mexico. As a result of the success of the album, Yuri was asked to record a theme song "Con las manos atadas" for the Latin series Mujeres Asesinas and, in 2011, the theme song "Por el amor de un hombre" for the TV series Infiltradas by
Chilevision. The song "Ya Para Que" was adapted from the song "Palaanadhu Palaanadhu"
 from the
Kuruvi music album composed by
Vidyasagar which was released in early 2008.