Gloria & Emilio Estefan Bring Their Legendary Love to Billboard Latin Women in Music

Gloria Estefan was the most applauded of the night when she received the Legend award at the Billboard Latin Women in Music 2024 gala, and she did so at the hands of her husband, the visionary music producer Emilio Estefan, who surprised her as the presenter of the recognition and gave a moving introductory speech.


“It’s the first time in our career that I’ve given an award to Gloria, but when they told me to do it, I had to do it because I’m honestly so proud of you,” he said with evident admiration for the singer and songwriter, who started while she was still a teenager as part of her group Miami Sound Machine. “We had a sound that was different, and it was so difficult because no one believed in us,” Emilio recalled, noting that together they reached “the most important corners of the world” as young Cuban immigrants.

“Receiving this award is more than anything to let a new generation know that, even though we come from other countries, we have to maintain our culture, we have to maintain our nationality and be proud of where we come from. That’s what made Miami Sound Machine famous. But tonight, more than anything, is to celebrate our union of more than 45 years,” he added to the cheers of the audience, who asked for “kiss, kiss” and became even more excited when the couple joined their lips in a tender moment.

Amid shouts of “Glory,” the superstar accepted the honor with joy and gratitude, and said how at 17 she went to a friend’s wedding where an orchestra was playing in which a young man who “had incredible charisma” played the accordion. It turns out that he — Emilio — had already heard her sing at a mutual friend’s house and invited her to perform a couple of songs with them.

“I sang ‘Sabor a Mi’ and ‘Tú Me Acostumbraste,’ and of course, everyone at the wedding had heard me sing since I was a little girl and they gave me an impressive ovation, which obviously impressed him,” she said making those present laugh. “And that night he told me, ‘You know, I would love for you to join the group because there is no group that has a woman at the front.’ How things have changed!” Gloria exclaimed.

“To all the queens who are sharing this night with me, I adore each one of you. I am very proud every time I see a woman succeed, it fills my heart with joy and happiness. Thank you, Billboard, for always being there through everything my career. Thank you Leila [Cobo] for creating this impressive way to celebrate the women that we have to celebrate ourselves whenever we can,” she concluded.

Since rising to stardom in the ’80s as the lead vocalist of Miami Sound Machine alongside Emilio, Gloria Estefan has helped infuse Latin flavor into English-language pop music, breaking barriers with hits like “Conga” and “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” and singing in parallel in Spanish.

On the Billboard charts, she has placed 29 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, three of them at No. 1 (“Anything for You” in 1988, “Don’t Wanna Lose You” in 1989, and “Coming Out of the Dark ” in 1991); and 30 songs on Hot Latin Songs, 15 of which reached the top (from “No Me Vuelvo a Enamorar” in 1986 to “Hotel Nacional” in 2012). Her first Spanish-language album, Mi Tierra (1993), spent an impressive 58 weeks atop Top Latin Albums and earned her the first of her three Grammy Awards.

Juliana Velasquez, Elena Rose and Gale
Juliana Velásquez, Elena Rose, and Gale during their tribute to Gloria Estefan at the Billboard Latin Women in Music gala at the Telemundo Center in Miami, on June 8, 2024.

Before receiving the Legend award, Estefan was honored by three emerging Latin American singers and songwriters — Venezuelan Elena Rose, Puerto Rican GALE and Colombian Juliana Velásquez — who performed for her a beautiful version of “Mi Tierra” accompanied by an orchestra entirely composed by women. From their seats, Gloria and Emilio did not stop smiling with emotion, and in the end, they were rewarded with a standing ovation.

In its second annual edition, Billboard Latin Women In Music also honored Karol G as Woman of the Year, Gloria Estefan as Legend, La India as Pioneer, Ana Bárbara with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Ángela Aguilar with the Musical Dynasty award, Camila Cabello for Global Impact and Kali Uchis as Rising Star.

The ceremony is airing on Telemundo and streaming live on the Telemundo app and Peacock.

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