Q&A: Gloria Estefan
Along the way, Estefan has sold a whopping 70 million
albums and singles worldwide, according to her record label and
management company. This includes the Spanish-language albums
"Mi Tierra" and "Abriendo Puertas" and such English-language
collections as "Destiny," "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" and
"Into the Light."
Now, Estefan has returned with her first English-language
album in five years, the intimate, acoustic-shaded "Unwrapped,"
the bulk of which she wrote herself. Co-produced by Sebastian
Krys, Estefan and her husband, Emilio Estefan Jr., "Unwrapped"
(released Sept. 23) includes vocal contributions from Chrissie
Hynde of the Pretenders and Stevie Wonder.
What do you see when you look at the musical landscape today?
People's attention spans are extremely short -- I see this
in my own two kids. They have such a vast array of things to
choose from: TV, videogames, satellite radio. It's sensory
overload. But it's the nature of life at this time. With music,
it's hard for them to follow something beyond one or two
singles. That's the nature of the beast, unfortunately.
Fortunately, I came up in the industry when artist
development was still important. It's tough for today's artists
who want to grow and develop. But music is music, and it is
more popular than ever. I love the fact that world music is
cropping up in more places, particularly in the States. And
artists like John Mayer and Vanessa Carlton are showing that
kids are looking for depth in their music, too.
How has the Internet changed the music business?
I see revolutionary changes in the way music is delivered
and consumed. The way the consumer wants their music is a major
shift for the business side. Pirating is so easy now; is
first-generation now. And the legal side must be addressed. It
is all cutting into how artists make a living. I don't think
kids realize they are stealing when they share their files.
They need to be educated. Payable downloads must be affordable
and easy to access.
But as an artist, I simply make the best music I can.
Hopefully, everything will work itself out. Until then, if I
were a multinational label, I would drop the price of CDs. At
the same time, I would put additional value into CDs.
Have you discussed CD pricing with your label?
Yes. In fact, I even asked Sony to drop the price of the
actual CD. But there is just so much control that we as artists
have. My new CD does include a bonus DVD, though. I've been
adamant with Sony that it be included as a gift for my fans.
What do you attribute your special relationship with your fans to? They are extremely loyal.
I've nurtured this relationship. I spent a lot of time
touring on the road. Hopefully, every time they see me live,
there is a deepening of that relationship.
Also, when I went through that tough accident 13 years ago,
they were able to connect with me on a very human and personal
level. My battles became theirs. They were able to see a human
being struggling with difficult times and turning it into
What did the accident teach you?
There were a lot of things. First, I had so much love sent
my way; I used it in my recuperation. I could feel a real
physical energy around me. I attribute a lot of my well-being
to that. I learned that I have much discipline when I needed
I also learned that we have an incredible power to affect
reality, our bodies and the healing process. These are all
Additionally, I learned to live life in the moment, to
enjoy what's happening now. Of course, having a big business, I
must plan ahead. But you must not take life for granted.
Is there anything you have learned along the journey that you wish you had known from day one?
I was shy. It took me a long time to relax. There were a
lot of performances and situations that I could've enjoyed if I
had just been able to let go. But that is impossible, because
it comes with time and experience.
But I try to impart this to artists like Shakira and
Thalia, so that they can get a jump-start on what it took me a
long time to figure out: that we're privileged and lucky to be
making a living from something that is so much fun. Also, to
keep yourself open to the love that everyone is giving you.
Tension and fear affect your performance. Because I am a
perfectionist, it took me a while to enjoy the process. Since
I've learned to enjoy it, it's been fantastic.
You have always embraced the dance community. Why?
The dance community was responsible for putting us on the
map way back when we did "Dr. Beat." At the time, we couldn't
afford to do anything, but we were able to do a trade with
Pablo Flores, a DJ in a gay club in Puerto Rico. We had him
create a 12-inch mix of the song.
Emilio and I took the mix to all the record pools. There
was nobody else to do this for us -- we were signed to a Latin
label. "Dr. Beat" was one of two English-language songs on our
fourth Spanish-language album with CBS. Somehow, the record
pools exported the single to Europe. The next thing we knew, we
were No. 1 all over Europe and No. 20 with a Latin album on the
British album charts.
"Conga" happened backwards. It was released in Europe first
and returned to the States by way of the dance community. It
took the song a full year to get into the top 10 here. Radio
kept saying, "We can't play this." But once they played it, the
phones would go crazy. People don't care where music is from;
they understood the lyrics and they liked its different sound.
The dance community was instrumental in our career; it has
always been there for us.
What is this I hear about you, a screenplay and Connie Francis?
I've been working with Connie for the past two years on a
screenplay of her life based on her 1984 autobiography, "Who's
Sorry Now?" We met for lunch, and the first thing she did was
place my CD, "Mi Tierra," on the table. She said, "I want you
to play me. I want you to do this movie of my life for me."
Would you star in it?
Absolutely. It would be my first big starring role. It
would follow my roles in "Music of the Heart" and Arturo
Sandoval's life story, which I did for HBO. I also just spent a
week in Vancouver filming "The Chris Isaac Show." I play the
evil Gloria. I wrote myself a devious part. Everyone always
says I'm so nice. So, I wanted to play a manipulative character
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