There’s nothing Emilio and Gloria Estefan can’t do. They’ve achieved international stardom, sold over 100 million albums, won a total of 26 Grammys, broken down barriers for Latin crossovers, received Presidential Medals of Freedom, and tackled Broadway with their new musical “On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan.” Their career success proves Gloria right — the rhythm will get you.
The husband and wife superstar duo sat down with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric to talk about their life together, their Cuban roots, and their hit musical.
“On Your Feet!” the musical
“I have cried more this year than in my entire lifetime, because you see, you know, your life unfolding. But it’s almost as if I’m watching someone else’s story,” said Gloria.
“On Your Feet” tells of Gloria’s upbringing in Miami, the early days of Miami Sound Machine, and their path to worldwide success, as well as the trials along the way, including the 1990 bus accident that nearly left Gloria paralyzed. Despite the tremendous struggle, Gloria never felt like giving up. “I thought, ‘Maybe this is the whole point of me having gone through fame. Maybe my actual job is going to be having people all over the world see that you can get past something. That you — something happens to you, and it all depends on how you deal with it.”
Gloria and her family left Cuba when she was only 2 years old. Emilio was 14 when he left. Coming to the United States in pursuit of freedom and a better life, both held their Cuban roots close to their hearts. “[My mom] kept it very much alive for me, always thinking we’d be back,” said Gloria. “And then, as it got longer and longer, it became even more important for her to keep that culture.”
Early days of Miami Sound Machine
Before millions of albums were sold worldwide, the Estefans had to work hard to even be heard. Performing whenever and wherever they could, Gloria said, “We had to convince the record company people to get out of the way. We had to convince radio people to take a chance.”
Emilio explained, “They said, ‘This will never happen in America.’ … That’s when I went to the record guys, ‘This is the new face of America.’”
At a time when immigration is a hotly debated subject in the United States, the Estefans share their story as evidence that the American dream is alive and well.
Emilio said, “Never we should judge a person because of where they come from. And you don’t have to change your last name… in order to be successful. This country gives you the opportunity to be who you [are] and respect who you are. And I think that’s a great privilege.”