Interview: Whatever Happened to Gloria Estefan?
Cuban-born, singer, songwriter, restaurant owner, mother and talented and artist, Gloria Estefan once captured the hearts of millions of people. Her reputation has allowed her to remain one of the top 100 musical artists of all times. She has sold more than 100 million albums, performed around the world, won three Grammy awards, four Latin Grammy awards and is still as humble as ever.
Keeping a more low profile in recent years has fans wondering whatever happened to Estafan, who was such a presence in the 1980s/90s music scene.
Perhaps all artists eventually fade into the background and focus on other priorities once they have catapulted to fame.
We were able to catch up with Estefan recently, along with Karin Caro, Donna Drake and The Village Connection Magazine, for an interview while the reality show The Next was being produced on Long Island at The Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York.
Reality TV seems to be a last bastion of great artists who land on television to either mentor others on the road to fame or keep the irresistible spotlight of fame shining as long as possible. The Next, another show devoted to discovering new musical talent, stars Estefan and airs on August 16 on the CW channel.
What is your schedule for tonight’s show?
After this I am almost ready. We do these interviews so I am mostly made up, I will just bump it up and Ill change.
With so much technology out there, what challenges do up-and-coming artists face today that may differ from before?
I think that the Internet has been a blessing and a curse. It has destroyed sales for artists. It has changed the whole panorama and now we are back to live performances to be able to really make a living at this point.
Yet it gives some artists opportunity, the ones that may have been signed by a major label to get their name out there. But there is fragmentation. When we used to perform on Johnny Carson we were almost guaranteed record sales the next day. A top-10 hit… at that time you were talking millions and millions of copies. Now we have so many channels available, people do not even watch live anymore, I am guilty of that. People are very impatient now. Everything comes with issues and difficulties. Things have changed; it can make things easier in certain ways but can make it difficult.
That’s why we are seeing more shows like The Voice and Idol. The real artists are going to do it because they love it. Anyone can become famous; just get a YouTube video to go viral. But how do you get that to support your career and your family? There is a lot of talent out there. I’m shocked. I was talking to Quincy Jones and he said I had to listen to this 11-year-old girl playing piano. I said to him that pretty soon they are going to be recording fetuses.
How do you manage to balance career and family?
It’s all a balance. I was lucky I could take my children to work with me. I take my husband with me. I joined his band at 17 for fun. He has been my manager. I told him when I was in my 20s that I am going to work really hard so that I can pick and choose. I do the things that I love.
What was it about The Next that made you want to Participarte in the show?
It was working on Biggest Loser. I got to meet Dave. I think he is an amazing guy. [Queen] Latifah and I ran into each other and we said we must do something together. So Dave came to talk to me about this. The thought appealed to me that why have people been doing their stuff but nothing has happened?
So how does this show work?
We go to six different cities. We spend 72 hours in their lives. It has to be fun and entertaining. I made pizza yesterday. In between all that lunacy, you try and deliver some helpful information.
Where do these people (the contestants) come from?
The show looks for people in each city that already has a following. Maybe they are big on YouTube or had careers or have local followings at local shows and bars but somehow have not made that big jump. They have sent videos and been prescreened. We never say anything bad to or about to the contestants because we have been there. Simon Cowell can though. One time I was a mentor on Idol. One guy did my tune and Simon said, “That was to Latin as chocolate is to an onion!” Tonight one of the four people will win, but no one will know. Tonight everyone wins. No one will know because if it gets on Twitter, what is the reason to watch the show any more?
Is it possible that all four of the winners could be someone you mentored?
It could, but I doubt that will happen. I haven’t gotten all the cute boys. These people can really sing. It is a great show. As the mentors we really try and change things up a bit. We do crazy stuff that is unexpected. It’s a great show.
Is one of the reasons you mentor because someone was really nice to you at some point?
I am at a point where I can really share. I have had a lot of experience. Anything that has happened can happen. It has been about 30-something years and I have been in every possible scenario you can think of from three Super Bowls to two Olympics. I have an international audience. We have been fortunate to have hits all over the world.
You are also an inspiration because you have overcome physical challenges as well.
I am not religious in a dogmatic way, I was raised Catholic, but I believe in the power of prayer because I felt it. I could feel the energy. When I had people all over the world thinking of me in such a positive way, it was amazing. It was real. My doctor then, who is now at Beth Israel in New York, said we put things back together as best we could. I have titanium rods and screws.
When he saw me perform after, he couldn’t believe it. He said, “Science said you may not be able to walk again and you definitely won’t be able to perform like you did. Chances are you will not be able to have another baby!” My family would walk in to see me crying and I would know I was going to be OK. I could feel the people’s energy. I channeled all that it, it is called visualization. I know it works.
What can we see from you music-wise in the future… any more CDs?
Yes, I am working on one. I am now doing a project that I have wanted to do for so many years now. I am doing an American Standards record with Shelly Berg, the jazz pianist. Our wedding song, which was a 1920s song, has never been done in English. I wrote it in English and hope it will be a great new wedding song.
Alysia Stern is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.