recounted anecdotes from their personal and public lives besides the opening of
the bio-musical On Your Feet
are Gloria and Emilio Estefan up to nowadays? In two words, Broadway theater.
With the opening of On Your Feet at the Marquis Theater on November 5th,
inspired by the Estefans’ life and music, the Cuban-born American couple are
getting a real taste of the Great White Way.
a recent evening at the 92Y, as part of their “92Y Talks” series, Rita Moreno
(Oscar Award, as Anita in West Side Story) served as moderator in a
three-way conversation with the music icons (Together they have won 26 Grammy
Awards and sold 100 million records worldwide.) They recounted anecdotes from
their personal and public lives, including how they met, the genesis of the
Miami Sound Machine, and Gloria’s phenomenal rise as an award-winning
singer-songwriter in the 80s and 90s.
to Gloria, music was what really brought Emilio and her together in 1975. She
recalled when she met Emilio he was holding an accordion and wearing home-made
shorts that looked like they had been made out of couch fabric. In spite of
his odd-looking shorts, she immediately liked him. And when he subsequently
invited her to sing in his band called the Miami Latin Boys, she readily
accepted. Emilio nudged into the conversation here and shared that he was
greatly impressed with Gloria’s debut in his band and asked her to join as
leading vocalist (They married in 1978.) It was then he changed the band’s
name to the Miami Sound Machine.
credit: Chloe Apple Seldman/Michael Priest Photography
duo then spoke about their breaks, first with Latin albums and, later on, with Primitive
Love (1986) and its crossover hit “Conga,” which garnered them
international recognition. They spoke briefly about their subsequent albums Let
It Loose (1987) and Cuts Both Ways (1989). And Gloria’s steady rise
to stardom as a solo vocalist with mega-hit songs like “1, 2, 3. . .” and
“Don’t Wanna Lose You Now.”
conversation turned to other storied events in their life together. The famous
couple shared that they have met and performed for two popes, Pope John Paul II
in 1995 and, more recently, Pope Francis, at the festivities before his mass at
Madison Square Garden on September 25th. Emilio, in fact, shared an amusing
anecdote about how he accidentally met Pope Francis (don’t ask) before the
formally scheduled events were underway. Gloria listened as her spouse
colorfully related the details of his unplanned meeting with the pontiff. But
when he completed his story, she smiled and added: “I call him Forrest Gump.”
and Emilio were particularly animated when talking about the new Broadway
musical On Your Feet. They discussed the very challenging
process of finding a “Gloria” and “Emilio” who could convincingly portray them
on stage. Gloria explained that they weren’t looking for “clones” but
performers who could interpret their lives with feeling and sensitivity. Both
of their hopes were fulfilled in Josh Segarra and Ana Villafane. The two
performers had to go through arduous auditioning sessions but ultimately
persuaded Gloria and Emilio, as well as the creative team, that they could
carry the lead parts.
talk wrapped up with a Q & A session with the audience. And Gloria and
Emilio responded to each question with thoughtfulness, candor, and wit. One audience
member’s question--addressed only to Gloria-- read: “What do you know for
sure?” Without missing a beat, Gloria responded: “That I love life!”
fittingly wrapped up the star-dusted conversation there. And the audience
slowly exited onto Lexington Avenue.
Talk with Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Monday, October 19th.
92Y, 1395 Lexington Ave, New York
Upcoming 92Y Talks, phone (212) 415-5500 or visit www.92Y.org