A performance that brings Black stories to white-dominated spaces
Gloria Estefan encourages fans to ‘Put On Your Mask’
Amna Nawaz: And, finally tonight, like much of the world, superstar Gloria Estefan has been under quarantine at home in Vero Beach, Florida with her husband, Emilio.
As part of our Beyond the Canvas series, I caught up with her to talk about life in isolation, wading into political debates, and why she decided to take an old hit song and turn into a public service announcement to get more people to mask up.
Gloria Estefan: You know, I wanted to use "Get on Your Feet" because, in people's minds, it's an empowerment song.
So I knew there was -- when they heard the music, it was going to make them happy. And I figure like a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
(singing): Put on your mask when you are buying groceries.
My idea was to capture kids, because there's a lot of fear.
I know my own grandson literally said to my son, "Daddy, I don't want to die" when this was starting, because they just hear and see everything, that I wanted to do a funny spin on a very serious subject matter.
Really, the only tool we have as a public health tool is to wear masks. If we all would wear masks, we'd be much more protected.
Amna Nawaz: Since you put that song out, masks themselves have become political, right? There's a huge debate over whether people should wear them, should be forced to wear them, where they can be required.
What has that been like for you to watch that debate unfold?
Gloria Estefan: Curious, because I think to myself, you know, how do we get to that point where something that is so simple, to help to protect other people -- because, literally, you're protecting other people more than yourself.
And if everybody wears it -- it's like people ask me, how does Emilio's and my relationship work? And I say, well, he takes care of me and I take care of him. That means that we're both taken care of.
Amna Nawaz: You and Emilio both been hesitant to ever really talk too much about politics. Do you feel more strongly about some of those things than you did before?
Gloria Estefan: Well, I feel strongly about it, but I'm still not going to share the view, only because I have friends on both sides of the aisle.
And it's kind of sad that there's only two sides of the aisle. I don't think that my own personal political views, just because I'm a singer and somebody likes my music, that I should try to convince them otherwise.
I think that everyone has to look at what's happening. We all have eyes. We all these -- well, brains. And I love this country. And I believe very much in its freedoms.
And it pains me, it really hurts me to see what we're all going through here, because it's so unnecessary. I haven't been able to hug my family members for five months. I mean, it's like -- it hurts.
But we got to do whatever we got to do to make the world safer for our kids, for my grandson, you know? But I stayed away from politics in my song, because I was a victim of politics. We lost our country, Cuba.
My dad gave up his life for both countries, for Cuba and for the U.S. when he went to Vietnam. He was in Bay of Pigs. He was in the U.S. Army. So, to me, music was an escape from those kinds of things. That's why I have stayed away from politics in my music.
Amna Nawaz: You really haven't hugged your family in five months? You seem like a hugger to me. That would be hard.
Gloria Estefan: I haven't hugged -- I have hugged some trees.
Gloria Estefan: I have hugged some trees. I have hugged my animals. I hugged my grandson for his birthday, because I was able to convince my son, and his wife convinced him, to let me host something in my backyard, all of us with masks, only eight of us.
And I got my grandson a gigantic water slide. And, as a kind of joke, but not really, I ordered hazmat suits.
Gloria Estefan: Because I was not going to let my son tell me that I could not hug my grandson.
Amna Nawaz: You wore a hazmat suit to hug your grandson?
Gloria Estefan: I did. I did.
And he hugged me so tight. I will never forget that hug. He wouldn't let go. We wouldn't -- he was holding on to me, like, squeezing me. That hug lasted -- oh, it was the best thing the entire day. It was beautiful.
I'm going to frame it and make it really big, because tears are always on the edge during this time. But...
Amna Nawaz: But we're all feeling that, right? Everyone's feeling that right now.
Gloria Estefan: And you know what's funny about these kinds of things?
I mean, you know. You have been in the business forever. There's something much more real, I think, that gets said and talked about in this. I could never be this close to you physically like we are right now.
Amna Nawaz: No.
Gloria Estefan: We're literally two -- you're literally like 16 inches, your face, from mine.
Gloria Estefan: So, you learn a lot more about people through these venues when you're speaking on a screen, because you're looking at their face the whole time.
Amna Nawaz: Yes.
Gloria Estefan: And you're at home in a setting. It's just a lot more, I think, conducive to actual real conversations.
Amna Nawaz: Conversations Estefan says she will continue to have, including through her music.
Her latest album, "Brazil305," is out now.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.