Before Selena, J.Lo or Shakira, there was Gloria Estefan. Last week she became the first Hispanic woman inducted into the Songwriters ’Hall of Fame'. When I told my twenty-something year old niece how excited I was, she admitted that she didn’t know who Gloria Estefan was. But as soon as I started singing “Come on, shake your body, baby, do the Conga,” she beamed and started singing along to the globally recognizable anthem.
When “Conga” came out in 1985, I recorded it to a cassette tape from the radio and played it over and over, then begged my dad to let us have MTV so I could watch the video. Estefan has been mesmerizing the world ever since.
Little Gloria was born in Havana in 1957 and was always musically inclined. Her family fled to Miami as part of the Cuban Revolution and later she became part of the group Miami Sound Machine. She married the band’s leader, Emilio Estefan, in 1978 and they’ve been married ever since. Strength, hard work and consistency have sustained her life and career. In 1991, at the height of her stardom, she made a comeback after a tour bus accident left her with a fractured spine. She’s won eight Grammys and has been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. She’s sold more than 100 million records - the second highest-selling female artist of Latin descent - and was honored with the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement. She has so many hits it’s likely you could create a Gloria Estefan soundtrack for your own life.
This latest accolade was long overdue as the 65 year-old goddess has had such a breathtaking impact on global music and culture. Join me in hailing the Queen of Latin Pop. Better yet…Get on your feet…Get up and make it happen.
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