With her new album, The Standards, being released September 10, legendary singer Gloria Estefan is returning to her roots. The multi Grammy Award-winner, 55, sings classic songs, elegantly redone, from a genre that she says is her “heart.”
The mom-of-two – and proud new grandmother to grandson Sasha – opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her longtime career, the secret to her successful family life, and her latest project on Broadway.
CBS: Tell us about your new album The Standards. What was the inspiration behind it? We hear some of the songs have a deep connection to your life. Please share.
GE: “I always knew I would eventually record an album of standards because despite the music that I’ve created and sung throughout my career, this genre is my heart. I grew up listening to the greats like Sinatra, Dean Martin, Henry Mancini, Doris Day, Nat King Cole, and one of my favorites, Johnny Mathis, and would learn to play standards on my guitar to sing for my parents and grandparents. In fact, the first time I performed on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, I sang our first worldwide hit, Conga, which was top ten in the states at the time, and as a second song, I did Good Morning Heartache with my piano player. It’s full circle for me for that very song, 35 years later, became the catalyst for the recording of this album.”
CBS: Are there any special plans for a tour around the time of the album’s release?
GE: “Although I’m not doing a tour per se, I taped a television special live from the New World Center in Miami Beach that will air on PBS through August, September and October. I will also be performing at the Royal Albert Hall in London on October 17th, in Basel, Switzerland on October 29th and will be participating in a series of shows that have played very successfully for the last 25 years in Europe, called Night of the Proms, in November.
I would love to do some shows next year here in the United States in places like Carnegie Hall or Radio City Music Hall and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles that would focus on The Standards and some of my hits re-imagined in that genre.”
CBS: You’ve reunited with Sony Music. Is it a little bit like coming home?
GE: “Sony and I have had an amazing partnership through the years and I look forward to continuing that with some very special projects.”
CBS: Your music has been a fan favorite for decades. Why do you think it transcends generations?
GE: “I think my fans indoctrinate their children into loving and listening to my music. Kids also see me in Sesame Street, Elmopalooza and in the United States there’s a whole section on my life in their 4th grade reader in public schools so I get a lot of young fans that google me after they read about me and they check out my music and videos. I think the dance element in my music reaches all ages and definitely keeps us young!”
CBS: Who are some of your favorite artists? Anyone you would like to collaborate with?
GE: “This year alone I’ve had the privilege to record tracks with Laura Pausini, Johnny Mathis, Santana, Joshua Bell and the great Carole King, who was a huge inspiration to me growing up and was one of my biggest musical influences as was Stevie Wonder, who I’ve also had the honor to work with on numerous occasions. I sang with all three tenors, Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Carreras and got a taste of what my album, The Standards, could be when I recorded duets with the iconic Frank Sinatra and more recently, the great Tony Bennett.”
CBS: Tell us about your grandson Sasha. What’s he into? How do you two spend time together?
GE: “I am in love with my grandson! He lives very close and I can walk over and play with him every chance I get, or he comes over here and I put him on a swing that I had put in for my daughter, Emily, when she was a baby. He’s already walking all over the place and he loves to show me his toys and takes my hand to take me wherever he wants to go. He is quite a blessing and it makes me very happy to see the relationship he shares with my son who is an amazing father.”
CBS: What are your son Nayib and daughter Emily up to nowadays? How does Emily like being an aunt to Sasha?
GE: “Emily loves being, literally, Auntie Em! The baby loves her and they share a very special bond. She’s about to head off to college and we have planned to Skype or FaceTime every day so they stay in touch. She’s the best musician in the family and plays drums, guitar and piano and already has several recordings under her belt. She and I just wrote and produced tracks for an amazing singer Emilio is producing named Fantine.
My son, Nayib, has his own company and has created “Gorilla Box,” something he invented to house modular synthesizers complete with power which has been very successful and artists like Dead Mouse use on the road while touring. He also loves film and is working on a documentary that he directed and has done music that, most recently, was on a trailer for a big Hollywood sci-fi film. He’s also coming more into the fold and has been brainstorming ideas that we will incorporate into several of our businesses. He’s a very talented man and a wonderful dad.”
CBS: How do you balance being a world-renowned singer, a mother, and now a grandmother, along with all your other projects? Can women really have it all?
GE: “I truly believe we can have it all, but it comes with a price: less time for ourselves. The key word in my life is balance, and although I do many things, I try to focus on whatever I am doing at the moment. It also helps to have a partner like Emilio who is an incredible man and motivator and helps to make everything happen and in a wonderful way. We share everything.”
CBS: You and your husband, Emilio, have been together since the mid ’70s. What’s your secret to a successful marriage? How do you prioritize making time for each other?
GE: “We’ve been fortunate to be each others’ cheerleaders and partners in everything we do. We are very different personality-wise, which creates a good balance. But in the things that truly matter in life like core values, priorities, family life and business, our opinions rarely differ. We fell in love with each other before the craziness of fame and its challenges came into our lives and I can honestly say I love him more than ever. The difficulties we’ve had to live through, like the accident that derailed our lives in 1990, have only served to strengthen our relationship.”
CBS: You seem to do it all: singing, songwriting, acting, creating a reality show, author, restaurateur. Is there another project you would like to do in the future?
GE: “We are working on a Broadway play based on our life, love and career and I am enjoying every minute of creating something new and, hopefully, very exciting for our fans. I look forward to watching our family grow in health and happiness hope to be able to enjoy as much time with them as I possibly can.”