Gloria Estefan still remains on her feet after a historic career over the years. The Cuban singer started with Miami Sound Machine where the single "Conga" took off. Hit singles continued until a tour bus accident almost took her life.
She came back with a new album titled Into the Light, followed by a Spanish-language album, Mi Tierra, that became the first diamond album in Spain. The talented performer has starred in movies, written books and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. She has won seven Grammy Awards as well as an American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Gloria and Emilio Estefan have won 26 Grammy Awards combined, and became grandparents in 2012.
Their latest project, On Your Feet, is a jukebox musical telling the story of their life and career ( starring Ana Villafane and Josh Segarra ). Directed by Jerry Mitchell with a book by Alexander Dinelaris, this production debut in Chicago covers the life of two people pursuing the American dream. New music is penned by the Estefans, but there are classic hits such as "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "1-2-3" and, of course, "Get On Your Feet."
Gloria and Emilio Estefan sat down with Windy City Times after a press conference to do a rare print interview acknowledging their gay fans.
Windy City Times: Hi, Gloria and Emilio. This interview is for a Chicago LGBT newspaper.
Gloria Estefan: Wonderful.
WCT: You have been a big supporter for gay rights.
Gloria Estefan: Listen: We are all peoplethat is the bottom line.
WCT: I heard from director Jerry Mitchell that there is a not a specific gay character in the musical but is there at least some of your disco cover songs in On Your Feet?
Gloria Estefan: In the megamix at the end, for sure, because it is a time span with a lot of our hits in the show.
WCT: "Wepa" was a huge gay hit.
Gloria Estefan: I know! When we did that in the studio I kept thinking the Zumba classes are going to go to town on this one.
WCT: How long was the creation process of this musical?
Gloria Estefan: Well, the producers, the Nederlanders, came to me over 20 years ago. It was kind of premature. I think the timing is perfect right now for us. The cosmos has helped to move this along. We have a dream team. Physically we have been working on it three years, which is very fast to have a musical onstage. We worked with Alexander Dinelaris, our writer, for a year and a half before he wrote the book. He blew me away when he did.
All of a sudden we are here in Chicago. It is like mind-blowing to me! It has been very fast.
Emilio Estefan: I think this musical will inspire a lot of people because it shows that it doesn't matter if you are Latino, gay or whatever happenspeople need to accept you the way you are. In our time, they tried to get us to change our name and our sound. We didn't do that. I think it is important to stick to what you believe in. I hope this will allow a lot of people to follow their dreams and make them come true.
WCT: How far into your career does the show go?
Gloria Estefan: There is a little Gloria and a little Emilio, so it goes way back in spots. It is not linear completely. We go back and forth in time. It goes from when I was 17 years old, when I joined the band, to age 32, right after I got back onstage after my accident at the American Music Awards.
You can't tell my whole life story. It's impossible. It was hard enough to get that much in. We are so fortunate to have had so many hits that it's impossible to put everything in the play. We let Alex pick the songs that would advance the story.
WCT: Why is the title On Your Feet?
Gloria Estefan: It is On Your Feet because that is what we have done repeatedly in our lives. We just get back on our feet. We are hoping that the people that come to our show will learn the universal message is that there will be curve balls thrown in life, you may be at the top of your game, a superstar, thenboom!something happens and you are learning to walk again. We have constantly had to get on our feet in many ways, from leaving our country, starting in a new place, starting school, Emilio trying to make a living doing a band that he loved for fun and then, physically, when I had to literally walk again. That is why we didn't put Get On Your Feetwe didn't want to tell people what to do. We want them to realize that is what you have to keep doing in life. Whatever happens, get on your feet!
WCT: Speaking of feet, do you have a favorite pair of shoes?
Gloria Estefan: My favorite pair are the ones actually signed by Louis Vuitton. It was for his 20th anniversary. He is a big fan and he signed the sole of my shoe.
WCT: Is there anything in your massive career that you would like to accomplish but haven't?
Gloria Estefan: Oh, my gosh; we have really gone beyond any dream but I think one day singing in a free Cuba. Being able to actually sing "Mi Tierra" in a free Cuba would be phenomenal. Hopefully I am not too old by the time that happens! [Laughs] I know me and Celia Cruz talked about it a lot but it wasn't meant to be for her. We were hoping that it would be sooner, but hopefully it will happen one day.
On Your Feet! dances to life June 2-July 5 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., before a Broadway debut Nov. 5. Call for tickets at 800-775-2000 or look online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com .