updated 09/25/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/25/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Thanks to concerts with his band on HSN, Esteban, who quit the Hyatt gig in June, has sold 75,000 CDs of his music, described by The Wall Street Journal as "Yanni meets José Feliciano." "I always thought I had a gift in me," says Esteban, 52, "but for a long time others didn't see it."
Esteban's long sojourn in musical anonymity began in Pittsburgh, where he grew up as Stephen Paul, one of four children of Ed, a steel-worker, and Marian, a homemaker, and started playing guitar at age 9. He majored in music and English at Carnegie Mellon University—"I was the only guy on campus playing flamenco"—and studied in Spain with guitar maestro Andres Segovia, who called him, simply, Esteban.
Classical guitar stardom seemed possible until a 1980 car crash left Esteban nearly blind in one eye and with nerve damage in his hands. In 1989, finally able to perform again, he took the job at the Hyatt Regency. "When people checked in," says Ann Lane, the hotel's public relations director, "they would ask if Esteban was playing." Last year, his manager got him a stint on QVC, which led to the HSN gig. And now? A national and international tour—a chance for Esteban to hear some of the guys who still play hotels.