Gloria Estefan is one of the most successful Latin artists of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide and seven Grammy Awards. But before she became a global superstar, she had to face many challenges and overcome many obstacles.
One of the biggest hurdles she faced was convincing the record executives to let her and her band, Miami Sound Machine, record in English and keep their distinctive Latin sound. In an episode of Apple Fitness's Time to Walk, she recalls how they were warned to strip their music of congas, horns, and anything remotely Latin if they wanted to cross over to the mainstream market.
She says, "When we were already working on the song 'Conga,' we had to convince a record company to let us record in English. We had the material. We knew we could do it, so we're pitching our idea and the execs that were there at the time, they're going, 'You can't compete on a worldwide level. If you really want to cross over, you got to get rid of the percussion. You got to get rid of the horns. You got to change your name."
Gloria was not willing to compromise her identity or her culture for the sake of fame. She says, "Emilio and I are looking at him going, 'Really? That's who we are. So, if that's who we are, that's who we want to be a success as, not water down our culture or our sound or our music just to try to be someone else.' If I do that, and we're a success, I'm not going to be happy the rest of my life. We know this going to work."
She was right. The song "Conga" became a huge hit in 1985, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. It also became the first single by a Latin group to cross over from the Latin charts to the pop charts in American music history. The song introduced millions of listeners to Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine's unique blend of pop, dance, and Latin rhythms.
Gloria Estefan went on to have a stellar career as a solo artist and a musical icon. She has released dozens of albums in both English and Spanish, covering various genres such as pop, rock, salsa, bolero, and jazz. She has also starred in movies and Broadway shows, written children's books, and received numerous honors and awards.
Through it all, she has never forgotten her roots or her fans. She says, "I always say that my fans are my family because they've been with me through thick and thin. They've supported me through everything. They've given me so much love and so much joy."
[Source: Classic Hits Today]