Gloria Estefan Talks Career, New Album at Billboard Latin Music Conference

It takes a lot of hard work to keep the crown as queen of all Latina musical artists. But Gloria Estefan makes it look easy.

Latin music's premier female artist -- with seven Latin Grammys and more than 100 million albums sold -- has a new album, a Broadway show about her life, a football team, multiple businesses and a daughter headed to college. Even so, she finds time to help Hurricane victims, advocate against repression -- like that in her homeland of Cuba -- defend human rights, fight against violence and in favor of religious freedom, as she recently participated in the TEDx conference in Rome, where she met her second Pope.

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How does she do it all? It's a combination of luck, prayer and teamwork, she said, referring to her husband, music mogul Emilio Estefan.

A new Broadway production will document the incredible lives that Gloria and Emilio Estefan have lived -- from their escape from Communist Cuba to the pinnacles of their careers.

Estefan also talked about her upcoming album, for which she recorded 16 songs in four days and that she described as a collection of her favorite tunes. "All my life, I've loved standards.  Johnny Mathis. Javier Solis. Trio Los Panchos. I always wanted to do it. I chose songs that were very special to me," Estefan said. "They were all songs that somehow spoke to me personally."

One of those is "El Dia Que Me Quieras," by Carlos Gardel. "It was our wedding song, the first song we danced to as husband and wife." She recorded that one in English, "which I think will make a killer wedding song," Estefan said.

She also wrote a Spanish version of "Smile," by Charlie Chaplin, and recorded it as a duet in Spanish and Italian with Laura Pausini.

Estefan also gave young artists some advice in the new world of the music business. The most important: "Keep your day job," she said.

While the business is still weak, however, the artists who have to write and sing and perform because they can't stop themselves will be the ones who succeed, she said.

"The internet has been a blessing and a curse. The curse we know: A lot of people appropriating your intellectual property without paying for it," Estefan said. "But I think it's important to realize the blessing of the internet, which is that everybody has a voice and you can break through, even without a record company. You can put out your voice and if you know what you are doing, it will get noticed," she said, pointing to the South Korean artist PSY as an example.

An artist is going to make music, is going to write, is going to paint, is going to do anything artistic people do. We are not going to stop making music because the business is not good.

She had a job as an interpreter at Miami International Airport and was studying to become a psychologist when she began her career. Emilio Estefan worked at Bacardi. "Our son was just born and he had great health benefits," she said. But the luck that put her on stage with her future husband's band -- then known as the Miami Latin Boys -- was her true destiny, she said.

"When we made the decision let's go for the music we both said if it doesn't work out, hey we will go back  to our day jobs," Estefan told the crowd during a Q&A session that was alternately in English and in Spanish.

"I was going to be a doctor, but I think my music allowed me to help more people than I could have done one-on-one as a psychologist. Just like other people's music really helped me."



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