Married 40-years Emilio & Gloria Estefan share secrets of making their partnership work

The “Gershwin Prize” PBS Special honors music’s “Sweet Embraceable” power couple Emilio and Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

 The Library of Congress has a commitment to excellence and has created the Gershwin Prize, one of the highest honors in the field of music. The 2019 award will be presented on a music special, “Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,” premiering Friday, May 3 on PBS. This is the first time the Gershwin Prize will be awarded to a married couple or to musicians-songwriters of Hispanic descent. It’s an extraordinary achievement for an extraordinary couple, as viewers will see with an in depth and entertaining look at the music world’s beloved power couple, Emilio and Gloria Estefan.

 The all-star tribute event was filmed in March in Washington, D.C., with Rita Moreno and Andy Garcia as hosts, and featured performances by Gloria Estefan, as well as Cyndi Lauper, Patti LaBelle, José Feliciano, Emily Estefan, and the original cast members of the Estefans’ Broadway musical, “On Your Feet.” Plus, there’s a special presentation by Quincy Jones. The Estefans are presented the Gershwin Prize by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, and a delegation of members of Congress.

 To promote the music special during the recent Television Critics Association press tour, PBS had an interview panel with Tim Swift, producer of The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize and his dear friends Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Swift worked with the Estefans on their last PBS special titled “Standards.”

Photo: (l. to r.) Producer Tim Swift, Gloria Estefan, and Emilio Estefan at the panel for “Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” PBS music special. (photo courtesy PBS)

 The music created by Emilio and Gloria makes you want to feel the beat and get on your feet. Gloria is best known for her world-wide success as a recording artist who has popularized Cuban-infused music, mixing Latin and pop rhythms. Emilio is the producer-arranger behind the hits that top the charts internationally.

 They also embrace the standards and released “The Standards” album featuring songs from the Great American songbook, which of course included some classics from songwriters George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. It included “How Long Has This Been Going On?” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “EmbraceableYou.”

 After the interview panel this reporter had to chat with Gloria about the sweetness she had in her voice when she sang the Gershwin classic “Embraceable You” on the album. She told me, “Emilio was in the studio and I sang ‘My Sweet Embraceable You’ directly to my hubby. He was crying and it was hard for me to keep it together while I recorded it live.”

  Since they are getting the Gershwin Prize together, I wanted to learn more about their relationship (married 40 years), what they admire about each other, and what makes their partnership work?

 Gloria said, “We feel privileged to have been able to live our lives making and sharing music. Emilio is an artist. I know how happy everyone he has produced is. He allows the artist to be themselves and be creative. He also brings many things to them to choose from— he compiles many different songwriters, or he’ll have a hook idea. He’s incredibly energetic and organized. He’s never come in on any project over budget. And he makes life easier for me. I know that when he’s out there, he’s going to be checking the lighting, and make sure the sound is right. He’s going to protect me in a million different ways, as he does for all the artists he works with.”

 Emilio said, “When you love somebody, and you see somebody getting success, it’s the most wonderful thing. What she has to give is amazing. I feel so proud of her. I definitely always try to tell her. I think love is about giving, and giving will make the other person happy. For me, when I see her perform and getting all the success, I am extremely happy.”

 The Estefans have built a musical empire and created a unique sound. Many of their iconic hits, “Conga,” “Turn the Beat Around,” “Get on Your Feet” and “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” symbolize the rich cultural diversity of the American musical experience.

 “Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,” a co-production of WETA, premieres Friday, May 3, 2019, on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). Tune in.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.