Perspectives

Emilio and Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song 2019 | Friday, May 3 at 9


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PBS to Honor Emilio and Gloria Estefan in Music Special with Star-Studded Performances from Jose Feliciano,
Il Volo, Cyndi Lauper and More, Hosted by Rita Moreno and Andy Garcia

— Latest from Emmy Award-Winning Music Series THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG
is First to Honor Musicians-Songwriters of Hispanic Descent, Airs Friday, May 3, 2019 on PBS —

PBS announced the talent and broadcast plans for EMILIO & GLORIA ESTEFAN: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG, a PBS music special honoring Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The program will premiere Friday, May 3, 2019 at 9:00 p.m.  on PBS stations nationwide.  This will be the first time the Gershwin Prize will be awarded to a married couple or to musicians-songwriters of Hispanic descent.

The event was recorded on March 13, 2019 at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. The event will feature performances by Gloria Estefan, as well as Jose Feliciano, Il Volo, Cyndi Lauper, Emily Estefan, and original cast members of “On Your Feet!”, and a special presentation by Quincy Jones — with Rita Moreno and Andy Garcia as hosts.  Gregg Field will be music director; he most recently won an Emmy Award for his music direction of last year’s special, TONY BENNETT: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG. During this year’s event, the Estefans will be presented the Gershwin Prize by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, and a delegation of Members of Congress.

The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named in honor of the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin. The prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. The Gershwin Prize was first awarded to Paul Simon in 2007, followed by Stevie Wonder in 2009, Sir Paul McCartney in 2010, the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 2012, Carole King in 2013, Billy Joel in 2014, Willie Nelson in 2015, Smokey Robinson in 2016 and Tony Bennett in 2017.

“The Estefans’ extraordinary career has left an indelible mark on American music and culture,” said Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “PBS is excited to share this very special evening with our viewers, and we’re delighted to celebrate the important contributions of Latino and Latina artists to our country.”

“CPB is proud to support this program celebrating and sharing the musical legacy of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. The Gershwin Prize is the most prestigious award given by the Library of Congress to honor artists who have promoted cultural understanding through song, a recognition of the Estefans’ unique contributions to American music,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

“The music created by Emilio and Gloria Estefan makes you want to listen to the beat and get on your feet,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “They are the creative force behind the popularity of music steeped in the Latino culture. This dynamic couple’s professional and personal journey truly mirrors the American dream, and we are so pleased to honor their musical legacy.”

The Estefans symbolize the rich cultural diversity of the American musical experience. They are musical auteurs, creating a unique sound of Latin rhythms that transcends cultural boundaries, parlaying their creative genius into entrepreneurship and community activism, and propelling the careers of many of today’s Latino artists to stardom. During their more than 30-year career, they have built a musical empire and made listening to Cuban-infused music one of America’s favorite pastimes.

“From the moment I started singing, I was drawn to the iconic songs of the immensely talented Gershwin brothers and have had the privilege to record several of them,” said Gloria Estefan. “I am deeply honored, along with Emilio Estefan, my beloved husband of 40 years, to be the 2019 recipients of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. This award celebrates lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding, and we feel privileged to have been able to live our lives making and sharing music. We are profoundly humbled to have been chosen for this singular accolade.”

“My life and career in music has been a blessing, and I’m humbled by this amazing honor and to be sharing it with my wife,” said Emilio Estefan. “I can only hope that our careers will influence a new generation of songwriters and producers. Throughout my career, my wish has always been to inspire minorities and to be an example that with hard work and dedication, all your dreams can come true.”

Married since 1978, the Cuban-American Estefans started their extraordinary rise to global fame in 1985 with Miami Sound Machine, creating a unique sound that blended Latin and pop rhythms. Many of their iconic hits — including “Conga,” “Turn the Beat Around,” “Get on Your Feet” and “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” — reflected the perfect marriage of creative lyrics, high-octane rhythms and spirited vocals. In March 2018, “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” was named to the National Recording Registry, an exclusive group of sound recordings selected for preservation because of their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to the nation’s audio heritage.

The Estefans have both been named BMI’s “Songwriter of the Year” and have garnered 26 Grammy Awards between them. Their life story and music were showcased in the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical “On Your Feet!,” which they executive produced. In addition to their musical talents, they are also successful entrepreneurs, philanthropists and humanitarians. The Estefans have received numerous awards, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Gloria Estefan is one of the most successful crossover artists in Latin music history. She is a seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and author of two New York Times best-selling children’s books. She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and achieved 38 #1 hits across the Billboard charts. Her many achievements are a testament to her popularity: an Academy Award-nominated recording, “Music of My Heart;” a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Spain’s Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts; and a National Artistic Achievement Award from the U.S. Congress, among others. She is scheduled to release a new album the first quarter of 2019.

Emilio Estefan, a 19-time Grammy Award winner, is a musician, songwriter, record and television producer, best-selling author, filmmaker and cultural ambassador. He has shaped and directed the careers of many musical talents, including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Jon Secada and Jennifer López. He was one of the founding leaders of the Latin Grammy Awards, inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and named the first “Person of the Year” by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Estefan was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame presented him with its lifetime achievement award. He was selected as the second vice chair to the Commission for the National Museum of the American Latino by President Barack Obama. President George W. Bush also appointed him as a member of the President’s Committee of the Arts and Humanities.

The Estefans and the other performing artists will be joined by a house band led by music director Gregg Field.