Gloria Estefan on music, her heroes and motherhood

Singer Gloria Estefan (64) who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide shares her life lessons.

Gloria-Estefan

by Jane Oddy |

As one of the world's biggest selling artists, the fabulous Gloria Estefan has learned a thing or two during her impressive career. Now, the singer and actor has shared her most important life lessons with us.

Follow your passion

"I studied psychology at university – and would have liked to be a psychologist – but the opportunity to be a singer came when I met Emilio Estefan (her future husband). I joined Emilio’s band and we started dating a year later. We fell in love, got married in 1978, and the band Miami Sound Machine started growing. He still makes me laugh even after all these years."

Music helps the bad times

"My father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after returning home from Vietnam. I would take care of him and my sister when I got home from school, until Mom came home from work late at night. Music was my escape. Dad was only 47 when he died.

"In 2015 Emilio and I received the Presidential Medal of Freedom together from President Barack Obama. My father would have been so incredibly proud because he brought me to the United States to raise me in freedom. (Gloria’s parents, José and Gloria, fled Cuba after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959)."

An accident changed my life

"In March 2000 I broke my back when a truck crashed into our tour bus. It felt like an explosion and threw me to the floor. I was temporarily paralysed but surgeons put me back together. It was life-changing and I wouldn’t want to go through it again, but I wouldn’t change it either. It made me stronger and I learnt a lot of things about the power of prayer. I felt people sending me positive vibes and I absorbed them. The here and now is the only thing you really have that’s guaranteed."

What would you tell your 18-year-old self?

"Don’t look back. Always look forward. There’s always something exciting around the corner!"

Motherhood is a gift

"My son Nayib (now 41) was eight when I had my accident and doctors said I wouldn’t be able to have any more children. It took a year to get back on stage, then we toured for two years and spent the next year trying fertility treatments. Emily (now 27) was finally born in 1994 so she’s a bit of a miracle. I love being a grandmother too. My grandson Sasha (8) calls me Tutu which is Hawaiian for grandma."

Everyone needs a hero

"My mom and grandmother were my absolute heroes. I never grew up thinking that there was something that a woman couldn’t do because quite honestly, the women in my family were doing it all.

"When we escaped from Cuba to America my grandmother smuggled my mom’s record collection to us in Miami in boxes of baby food. She would plead at the airport, ‘this is the only thing my granddaughter will eat!’ The records included Nat King Cole albums. As I got older he was the soundtrack of my childhood. I’ve always been a huge fan. When he sings, he makes you feel that anything is possible."

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