Estefan Honored by Kennedy Center

The 2017 class of Kennedy Center honorees includes, from left, LL COOL J, Carmen de Lavallade, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan  and Norman Lear.

By UM News

The 2017 class of Kennedy Center honorees includes, from left, LL COOL J, Carmen de Lavallade, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan  and Norman Lear.

Estefan Honored by Kennedy Center

By UM News
University of Miami alumna Gloria Estefan was among five artists recognized for enriching the human spirit.

International superstar Gloria Estefan, a University of Miami alumna who brought Latin music to the American mainstream, was among the five artists honored by the Kennedy Center this week for enriching the cultural fabric of America.

The seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer, actress, songwriter, author, philanthropist, and humanitarian was recognized December 3 at the center’s 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors gala, a national celebration of the arts, with four other artistic luminaries: dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, hip hop artist LL COOL J, TV writer and producer Norman Lear, and musician and record producer Lionel Richie. 

A two-hour primetime special on the honorees will air on CBS at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 26.

Feel incredibly blessed to be in the same class with all of you!’’ Estefan tweeted to her fellow Kennedy Center recipients during the gala festivities. “Your talents & beautiful souls have touched the world and forever changed it for the better!”

Considered by Billboard magazine to be the single most successful Latin crossover artist in music history, the Cuba-born, Miami-raised Estefan was, of course, included in the 2017 class of honorees for the same reason. As Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter noted, Estefan and her fellow honorees are known and loved by the world because of their originality and bold genius. 

“They are creators of the highest order, and as President Kennedy's living memorial, the Kennedy Center is proud to shine a light on their boundless 'contributions to the human spirit,’” Rutter said.

The first Cuban-American Kennedy Center honoree, Estefan has earned many other honors over her 100 million record-selling career, which took off after she joined her future husband Emilio Estefan’s band and formed the Miami Sound Machine in 1977. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, induction into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a National Artistic Achievement Award from the U.S. Congress, and, most recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, which President Obama presented to her and Emilio for their cultural contributions.

 “Little did I imagine when my parents brought me as a toddler to the United States from Cuba, in order to be able to raise me in freedom, that I would be receiving one of this nation’s greatest honors,” Estefan said after learning about the Kennedy Center Honors.

An emerita member of the UM Board of Trustees, Estefan earned her undergraduate degree from UM in 1978, and an honorary doctorate in music in 1993. Read more in the center’s biography of Estefan.