Gloria Estefan with Billboard "Juice" editor Erika Ramirez (Photo: JD Anderson)
For an artist with the resume as Gloria Estefan's, it's rare and admirable of her to open up about her professional to personal life with honesty and humility.
At a luncheon, hosted by Think Tank Marketing and Doug Barash of Verve Music Group, held at the Universal office in New York today (Sept. 14), Gloria Estefan walked a select few journalists through her 14th studio album, "Miss Little Havana." Those in attendance, including Simone "Boss Lady" Amelia of Dr.Jays and Sirius/XM, Jeff Rosenthal of Village Voice, Rich Juzwiak of MTV Hive, Kathy Iandoli of MSN Music, Alvin "Aqua" Blanco of Antenna, and more, marveled as Gloria shared on her upbringing, culture, family (her daughter Emily Marie plays the electric guitar on 'Miss Little Havana' track, "On") and her thoughts on the record business regarding her Target partnership, which was exclusive announced in Billboard.
David Naranjo, Gloria Estefan's publicist of 15-plus years, waved at new and familiar faces as he bopped in his seat. Everyone in the room shook their shoulders, especially to the "Wepa" remix featuring Pitbull, while indulging in the catered Latin appetizers, from quesadillas to guacamole.
A few songs in, Gloria began to take questions from those in attendance. She began by speaking about her chemistry with Pharrell Williams, executive producer of "Miss Little Havana." . The two began working on the album the minute Pharrell brought her the album's titled track, which he'd written specifically for her.
"There was major chemistry," Gloria said. "The studio situation was incredible. We had family walking in and out, his entourage, my daughter, my goddaughter. We were just in there writing, working fantastically well. I got lucky."
Gloria continued to talk on her partnership with Target, infusing her thoughts on the record business.
"First of all, there's no more retailers, like for records… I have history with Target. I was very involved in their campaign where the troops read books for their kids then they filmed the kids reading and sent it back. They did [the] Noelle books when I did the children books ['The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog,' and more]. They're bringing a lot to the table, promotion wise. I think it'a good fit because now a days people don't go out to buy records, it's you either download it or if it happens to be where you are, and you're curious, [then] that's great.
"A store like Target, that sells all kinds of things, it's only natural and much easier for them to stay in the record business. Everybody else had to get out cause they couldn't afford to stay in because of record sales. It's the sad truth of the way things are.
"But artists, we're still going to make music [and] figure out a way to get it out to the fans the best way possible."
Through out the session Gloria touched upon the impact her upbringing and culture had on her and her work, her family (Nayib, son, Emily, daughter, and husband/business partner Emilio Estefan) and young artists she has an eye on. "I love Nicki Minaj and Jessie J," Gloria said. "Am I gonna rap? Hell no! But will I work with these artists? Hell yeah."
Angie Romero of Latina Magazine, in company with Nuria Net from Univision and Sarah Bogdanski from Mun2, requested for Estefan to play "On" ending the session.
Gloria played it as well as one of her favorite tracks, "Hotel Nacional" (popular club in Havana, Cuba) before saying a few final words. "I'm still excited about music. It's my catharsis. That's never going to change whether it's lucrative or not."