Gloria and Emilio Estefan Receive The Presidential Medal Of Freedom

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

The success of “On Your Feet” is only one of Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s latest achievements.  

The Presidential Medal Of Freedom

The couple were both recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Emilio Estefan’s work as a music producer, entrepreneur, author and songwriter has won him 19 Grammy Awards and influenced a generation of artists. As the founding member of the Miami Sound Machine, and later through a decades-long career producing and shaping the work of countless stars, Emilio Estefan has helped popularize Latin music around the world.  

He has received a Lifetime Achieve-ment Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Emilio Estefan is an inductee to the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Gloria Estefan introduced Latin music to a global audience through her work as a singer, song-writer, actor and entrepreneur. The Cuban-American lead singer of the Miami Sound Machine has had chart-topping hits such as “Conga,” “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” and “Anything for You.”

Estefan has won seven Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records world-wide. She is an inductee to the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Estefan became one of the first mainstream Hispanic artists to crossover between English and Spanish-language music paving the way for countless other Latin artists to follow.

During the medal ceremony President Barack Obama spoke about the Estefans’ lives and accomplishments: 

“On a Miami night in 1975, a young woman named Gloria walked into a wedding reception and saw a handsome young man named Emilio leading his band.  He was playing ‘Do the Hustle’ -- on an accordion.  (Laughter.)  I’m quoting her now -- she said she found this ‘sexy and brave.’

(Laughter.)  I mean, the brave part I understand.  (Laughter.)  But it turns out he had a few other things up his sleeve.  He brought her up to sing a few songs that night, invited her to join his band.  A few months later, Emilio asked Gloria for a birthday kiss.  It was not her birthday -- it wasn’t his birthday.  But he got the kiss anyway.  And Emilio and Gloria Estefan have been partners -- on and off-stage -- ever since.  

Some worried they were ‘too American for Latins and too Latin for Americans.’  Turns out everybody just wanted to dance and do the conga.  And together, their fusion sound has sold more than 100 million records.  And as proud Cuban-Americans, they’ve promoted their cultural heritage and inspired fans all over the world.”