En español | On the kind of glorious Miami day that puts picture postcards to shame, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the city's most high-profile power couple, stand in the ornate, Moroccan-style entertainment room of their Star Island estate, posing for a photographer.
Playing in the background is The Standards, Gloria's new CD, a romantic, multilingual interpretation of the American songbook. The pair begin to sway, dancing in place. Suddenly, Emilio's hand, which a moment ago was wrapped around his wife's tiny waist, slips lower down her formfitting dress.
"He's copping a feel!" Gloria exclaims in mock protest, her throaty tone instantly recognizable as the defining voice of the Miami music scene. (Don't miss the exclusive video, below, of AARP's visit to Gloria and Emiliio's home.)
In the mid-1980s, Gloria, now 56, and Emilio, 60, propelled themselves onto the national stage with their Latin crossover band, Miami Sound Machine, for which Gloria sang lead vocals and Emilio played keyboards. They cultivated a Cuban dance beat that sent songs "Conga" and "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" to the top of the charts.
The Estefans' fusion of pop, disco and salsa sold 100 million albums and won Gloria seven Grammy awards. It also paved the way for the crossover explosion of Latin music, mostly through artists that Emilio (who has his own 19 Grammys) brought to the forefront, including Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Shakira.
It all made the Estefans — both Cuban immigrants who arrived in South Florida with next to nothing — rich beyond anyone's wildest imagination. Today their estimated net worth hovers around $700 million, not just from the entertainment business but also from commercial endorsements and shrewd real estate investments.
From Rags to Riches, Literally
Emilio and Gloria Estefan's story of personal and professional reinvention is so extraordinary, in fact, that this year they signed a deal to turn their lives into a Broadway musical.
"I'm so psyched!" Gloria enthuses, sitting in her writing den ("my lair"), where photographs crowd the walls. "There are so many story lines. It's a universal story, it's an immigrant story, and it's a love story. In the United States, if you believe in yourself and you're determined and persevere, you're going to succeed."
To be sure, the Estefans' gated mansion isn't just a testament to affluence. It's a house of love — for each other, for family and for the country the couple says allowed them to become all they are. Gloria insisted they wait to purchase the property until they had the cash in hand: "We've got that immigrant mentality. No mortgages."
Next page: Fleeing Castro's Cuba. »