The Legends: Gloria Estefan

The Legends: Gloria Estefan

The story of an illustrious life goes on tour.

The story of an illustrious life goes on tour.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

This article originally appeared in V109, on newsstands August 31.

“I’d see these big, giant men crying, and it made me really happy,” Gloria Estefan admits over the phone from her house in Miami. “Because I saw it really moving people, and that’s a beautiful thing.” Estefan is talking about her Broadway show, On Your Feet!, which has run for over two years now. In October, it will embark on a North American tour and a corresponding one in the Netherlands. The critically acclaimed show, which was nominated for a Tony Award, stages the story of the lives of Estefan and her musician husband Emilio.

“To me, the prime objective of the show is to take the audience on an emotional journey that has its ups and downs,” Estefan explains. The ups include becoming an international phenomenon at the age of 28 with “Conga,” which remains her signature song; 100 million albums sold; 38 number one hits on the Billboard charts; performances at the Super Bowl Halftime Show and the Vatican; and more.

Downs include a severe accident in 1990 when a truck hit Estefan’s tour bus. She broke her vertebra, and her husband and nine-year-old son, Nayid, were hospitalized. Another low, one that the public knew nothing about until On Your Feet!, was the two-year silence between Estefan and her mother. “Nobody knew it had ever happened. I took my sister on the road and [my mother] got so upset. She said she’d never speak to me again...She felt that she had been abandoned, but I knew I had to take my sister with me or she’d have gotten into a lot of trouble.”

Her relationship with her own daughter, Emily, brings a new level of excitement to Estefan’s voice. It sounds as if she’s beaming when talking about Emily’s budding career. “Honestly, not because she’s my kid, to me she’s like Prince or Stevie Wonder.” Emily’s debut album, Take Whatever You Want, demonstrated the rising star’s musical talents, ranging from drums and guitar to a voice that, as her mother puts it, sounds like “it’s full of soul and wise beyond her years.”

Estefan herself has a new album coming out in 2018, this time infusing a Brazilian influence into rerecorded versions of her classics. It’s clear that her work and strong sense of family are crucial to her good spirits. “Do you have relationships that fill your life so that you have a balance of work and love? Can you control your destiny? To me, that’s the measure of success. That’s the measure of happiness.”

Credits:

Gloria Estefan on her Get On Your Feet World Tour in the netherlands, 1989. Photo Michel Linssen/Redferns/Getty

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