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Gloria Estefan: Singer, Songwriter - Declined Pope's Invitation

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Despite leaving Cuba when she was very young, Estefan has remained keenly aware of the political developments in that country. When the Pope was visiting Cuba, Estefan turned down an invitation to sing before him. Explaining her reasons in an interview with the Miami Herald, she said, "My going there would have turned a beautiful spiritual thing into a political thing because I thought it was fantastic that the pope was going…. But me going there would have been very political…. I would have asked for permission from the Cuban government, which I'm not about to do, and it just would have been a slap into the face of my father and everything he fought for."


In 2000 Estefan became the focus of media attention in a political context once again as she spoke out in the now-famous Elian Gonzalez case. The six-year-old Gonzalez and his mother had been trying to reach the United States from Cuba when the boat sank, killing young Gonzalez's mother, leaving the boy adrift on a life preserver until he was rescued and brought to Florida. The boy's father and the Cuban government wanted him returned to Cuba. Like many Cuban-Americans, Estefan believed that Gonzalez should have been allowed to remain in the United States, and she appeared at protests outside the house where the boy was kept, believing that as an immigrant, he had a right to stay in the United States.

Estefan has received criticism for her defense of Peggi McKinley, who was expelled from the Miami-Dade film board after speaking out against the ban on Cuban artists. Estefan's music also reflects her dedication to Cuban rights: her song, "Oye Mi Canto," was written for the Cuban people and contains the words "I want my Cuba free." In addition to her concern about Cuban rights, Estefan and her husband donate a great deal of their wealth towards good causes and charities, and in 1997 they formed the Gloria Estefan Foundation to support charities for disadvantaged youngsters.

In addition to her music, family, and charitable causes, Estefan has also tried her hand at acting, including a part in the 1999 film Music of the Heart, which starred Meryl Streep. This was followed by a role in the HBO telemovie, The Arturo Sandoval Story. For several years, Estefan has been working on a script based on the book Many Lives, Many Masters, and she is producing a movie based on the book Only Love is Real for NBC.


In recent years, Estefan has stated that she would like to spend more time with her family, cutting down on public appearances. In 2002, however, she performed again at the Olympic Games, this time at the closing ceremony in Salt Lake City, Utah. Son Nayib, who spent much time as a youngster accompanying his mother on tour, is a DJ in England and husband Emilio continues to expand their music empire.

Estefan has played a pivotal role in popularizing Latin music and paving the way for stars such as Ricky Martin. Martin has recognized his debt to Estefan, praising her "pioneering efforts." Her continuing success is due in part to her ability to meld Latin music with American tastes, and she once stated in an interview with Time, " I have the best of both worlds. I have a Cuban heart and an American head. It's a good balance."


Selected discography

Eyes of Innocence, Discos CBS, 1984.

Primitive Love, Epic, 1985.

Let It Loose, Epic, 1987.

Cuts Both Ways, Epic, 1989

Into the Light, Epic, 1991.

Greatest Hits, Epic, 1992.

Mi Tierra, Epic, 1993.

Christmas through Your Eyes, Sony/Epic, 1993.

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Epic, 1994

Abriendo Puertas, Epic, 1995

Reach, EpicRecords,1996

Don't Let This Moment End, Epic,1998

Greatest Hits, Volume 2, Epic, 2001)

AlmaCaribena, Epic, 2000


Sources

Books

Destefano, Anthony M., Gloria Estefan : The Pop Superstar from Tragedy to Triumph, New American Library.


Periodicals

Billboard, Nov 28, 1998, p. 66.

Calgary Sun, November 1, 1999.

Daily Express (U.K), 2000.

Entertainment Weekly Magazine, March 2001.

Entertainment Wire, June 12, 2001.

Horzu, September 8, 1998.

Ladies Home Journal, April 1997, p. 118.

Las Vegas Sun, November 2, 2001.

Living Fit, April 1998.

Miami Herald, September 28, 1997; October 8, 1997; December 20, 1997; May 31, 1998.

People Weekly, August 12, 1996, p. 60.

Time Magazine August 12, 1996.


On-line

American Decades CD-ROM, Gale, 1998, reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI, Gale Group, 2001, http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Biography Resource Center, Gale, 2002, http:/www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC

http://immigration.about.com/library/weekly/aa012400a.htm?terms=Gloria+Estefan

http://members.v3space.com/gloriaestefanlibrary/

http://www.forbes.com/finance/lists/57/2000/LIR.jhtml?passListId=57&passYear=2000&uniqueId=6020&passListType=Person&datatype=PersonGloriaEstefanFoundation

http://www.gloriafan.com/bio.html

Vista Magazine, 2001, http://www.spiritualfitnessonline.com

—Ruth Savitz

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