Gloria Estefan interview: Singer talks new album and what her alternate career would have been

1 September 2020, 06:00 | Updated: 12 April 2023, 13:55

Gloria Estefan talks lockdown fun, new music and family in Smooth's Virtual Coffee Break

By Rory O'Connor

Hitmaker Gloria Estefan has just released her brand new album, Brazil305, with new originals and re-imagined hits from her back catalogue.

Now, Gloria has sat down for a chat from the other side of the world for a Virtual Coffee Break with Smooth Radio's Jenni Falconer.

Speaking about her new Brazil305 album, Gloria said: "I’ve always loved Brazilian music. The head of Sony Brazil knew. He’s a fan.

"When I joined the band at 17, I asked them to learn all these classics, because I told my husband [Emilio Estefan]... he wasn’t my husband yet; he was my boss at the time.

"I told him, 'You know, I think it would really open up our musical appeal if we could do some Brazilian music, because I can sing it'.

Watch the full interview video above.

Gloria Estefan with her husband Emilio Estefan | Gloria Estefan on a virtual chat with Smooth Radio
Gloria Estefan with her husband Emilio Estefan | Gloria Estefan on a virtual chat with Smooth Radio. Picture: PA • Smooth Radio

"In 1983, we did an album called Rio, where I rewrote lyrics in Spanish to big Brazilian hits at the time by Rita Lee and Baby Consuelo.

"So I’ve always loved it. And when he came to me with this idea at the end of 2015 – I loved it, and I said, 'I’d love to do it. I want to put a couple of original tunes on it'."

Gloria then went on a trip to Brazil to infuse the country deep into her upcoming music.

Read more: Gloria Estefan facts: What are her biggest songs, how old is she and who is her husband?

The 62-year-old explained: "We went to Brazil. We recorded all the music, and, like I said, when I came back – in early 2017, I was going to put my voice on it, but my mum got very ill, and that changed all our plans.

Gloria Estefan recalls how she got her start in music and meeting Emilio

"But again, as I say, the universe conspired to have it come out now, and I think it’s much more important to be able to, you know, remember the beauty of music, and how it transports us, and helps us through tough times. That’s what it did for me, all my life.

"Each one of those songs represents a different moment in my life when I was rerecording them all, which was also a great thing that most artists don’t get to do. Rarely do you go back and rerecord your own hits.

"When I went into the studio, you have to feel the rhythm that you’re singing. That’s what was so exciting for me. That was so much fun, to put it at a slightly different spin. Because I also don’t want to disappoint my fans, and have them say, 'Oh, no, you totally trashed what I loved already'."

While Gloria loved making the entire album, there were a few favourites in there for the singer.

Gloria continued: "I was blown away by the arrangements that these amazing musicians had done. I can’t pick a favourite, but I have to say, for me, only because it was so new and different, that the duet I did with Carlinhos Brown, 'Magalenha', which closes out the album – it’s the fastest I’ve ever had to sing in my entire life, in a language that is not my own.

Gloria Estefan - Magalenha (Audio) ft. Carlinhos Brown

"And I got to work so closely with Carlinhos. We established a really nice friendship when I was in Brazil. We shot a documentary that will air early next year in Brazil about the roots of samba, and I got to interview some of the top people there.

"It was really exciting, the whole project, for me. So I’m happy that at least the music has come out now."

See more: On Your Feet star Christie Prades would love to play Gloria Estefan in a movie biopic

Gloria went on to reveal that if she hadn't gone on to become the superstar that she is, she would have gone into an entirely different career.

The 'On Your Feet' star smiled: "Yes. When I joined Miami Sound Machine, it was the summer of 1975, when I had just graduated high school. I had already declared my French minor.

Gloria Estefan releases 'Conga' video ahead of ON YOUR FEET! arriving in London

"They offered me a college work study programme at the airport. So I was working full time, six days a week, from one in the afternoon to nine at night, in customs and immigration, and as an interpreter for Spanish, French and English.

"And then I taught community school guitar two nights a week, from 9:30 at night to 11:30 at night. And then I joined the band. I started school from eight in the morning to noon. And the rest of the days, I was rehearsing with the band and performing all weekend.

"So I literally had three jobs and a full-time school schedule. And I loved it, because I took care of my dad all through high school. So the fact that I could do all this – he was already in the hospital. We couldn’t care for him at home anymore.

"And I was doing everything I possibly could, and loving every minute. But, yeah, it was a lot of work."

Gloria Estefan's Brazil305 album is out now.