Oprah, meet Miami’s royal family.
In an interview to be aired at 9 p.m. Sunday on Oprah’s Next Chapter, Gloria and Emilio Estefan chat with the Queen of Media in a revealing and intimate discussion at their Vero Beach home. Winfrey shares a Cuban lunch with the longtime couple and their two children, Emily and Nayib, plus their daughter-in-law Lara, grandson Sasha and Emilio’s niece, Univision personality Lili Estefan. Oprah explores the ups and downs in the life and career of Gloria Estefan, the pioneering crossover artist who brought Caribbean fusion and Latin flavor to American pop music in the late ’80s. The artist and her megaproducer husband Emilio went on to help several other Latin artists like Shakira make the crossover, acting as a sort of musical consulate between the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking music industries.
In the interview, Estefan discusses how hard she advocated for one of her prodigies, Colombian pop superstar and now judge of the “The Voice,” Shakira. Oprah asks why record company executives were reluctant to produce an English-language album for Shakira. “They wanted her to just to throw a couple of songs in English on a Latin record. I fought hard,” says Estefan. “I said ‘This is her shot. You can’t do it halfway. You know, an American audience is not going to get a record that’s mostly Spanish because it has a couple of English cuts on it. They want to hear the whole thing. It’s going to work.’ I fought hard and she sold like 13 million of that album.”
Estefan also takes Oprah to the snowy night in March 1990 when she suffered from what could have been a career-ending back injury after her tour bus was rear-ended by a semitruck. “I was on my way to a concert and I took a nap to be fresh and I open my eyes and I thought we were there because the bus had stopped and boom! Explosion! We got rear-ended by a fully-loaded 18-wheeler, which is the only bigger thing than a tour bus.” Her subsequent injuries and painful recovery served to bring her closer to husband Emilio. “Things can either tear you apart, it’s hard to handle. He didn’t leave my side for a moment,” she confesses. “He would walk me every 45 minutes because I couldn’t sleep for more than that without pain. He would sit me up, bathe me, lay me down, move me.”
Once deemed “too American for the Latins, too Latin for Americans,” Estefan talks about how her intention with the Miami Sound Machine was not to simply become famous but to “do music that we felt could do something new and fresh and different.” Keeping her own unique percussion- and horn-heavy sound was also something she had to fight for, but she confesses to Oprah that her music endures because it’s unique. “I still like all the stuff we did.”
The interview airs at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4 on “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”