Mariah Carey may be the self-proclaimed Queen of Christmas, but Gloria Estefan wants to rule the whole holiday season.
The legendary Latina singer has just released her second Christmas album, “Estefan Family Christmas,” performed at the 98th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and will appear at the “National Christmas Lighting Ceremony: Celebrating 100 Years,” airing on CBS December 11.
This boost of holiday spirit came about during the pandemic, when many get-togethers were were canceled or scaled back.
“I felt robbed of the last two holiday seasons because of COVID and everything else,” Gloria, 65, told The Post.
Traditionally, the Estefan family’s holiday season begins in Gloria and husband Emilio’s Miami home with a Thanksgiving singalong, led by the couple’s grandson Sasha Estefan-Coppola, who sings about he is thankful for each year. ‘
But as Sasha, who is the son of Gloria and Emilio’s eldest child, Nayib, and his wife, Lara Coppola, reached his tenth birthday this year, his voice started changing.
“I wanted to capture Sasha’s voice while he was still a kid, because he told me, ‘Tutu, when I try to hit some notes, something weird is happening with my voice,’” Gloria recalled. “And he had grown four inches in the past few months. I thought, oh boy, here it comes.”
So she decided to produce a multi-generational album with daughter Emily, 27, an accomplished singer in her own right, joining in. Even Emilio, Gloria’s prolific music-producer husband (Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Secada, Marc Anthony, Thalia and Shakira) made his signing debut with Sasha on two tracks.
“Emilio said it was his first and last time,” Gloria said. “He wasn’t too happy about me producing him because he is usually on the other side, and he never likes to be told what to do. But boy, did I have fun doing that. He was all in, because how many people get the opportunity to record a song with their grandson?”
There are 17 tracks on “Estefan Family Christmas,” ranging from covers of classics like “Wonderful Christmastime” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” to the family’s song that started it all, “Thankful.” Even the Chipmunks got a redo with the Estefans’ many dogs and cats howling along to the chorus of “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).”
There’s also an intentional retro feel, which extends to the cover photo. “We were trying to be reminiscent of a Beach Boys album cover that we loved,” Gloria explained. “It’s meant to look like an old album cover with the color worn down. If you look at it carefully, you’ve got Em very confidently front and center. Because I really believe that this is her moment. Then you have Sasha looking out into the future and you have me looking at Sasha, which is the new order for the Estefan family. Here comes our little prince.”
Still, Gloria wants Sasha to enjoy being a kid. “We wanted to immortalize his child voice before it changes,” Gloria said. “We’re all altos right now. Literally, there’s parts that you can’t tell who’s who when we’re doing harmonies because we have that similar timbre.”
This year, the talented family has plenty to celebrate, including Gloria’s starring role in the hit summer film “Father of the Bride.” The HBO Max remake reportedly nabbed the biggest audience for a streaming-only movie and won audiences over with its Latin flair and woman-power theme.
“When you’re doing a remake of anything, especially something that’s a classic, you’re taking a risk,” Gloria said. “But we were so thrilled with the script and the fact that it had a new twist to it. Women have a bigger part, especially the mother, than in the previous incarnations. The movie really highlighted the role of women in their families. And it was such a joy. I had the best time of my life.”
Although, she admitted, there was one thing about it that made her nervous: kissing Andy Garcia, who plays her embattled husband in the movie.
“Andy and I are really good friends, so there’s legitimate chemistry there,” Gloria said of her co-star, who she’s known for nearly 40 years. “We love each other dearly. So, I would much rather kiss a friend like Andy. But I have to tell you, I was nervous. Because it’s a strange thing. I know he’s kissed a gazillion women, but he’s the only other man I’ve kissed in the last 47 years. I shipped Emilio out of state for it.”
So how was the kiss? “Lovely!”
The Estefans’ real love story — the autobiographical musical “On Your Feet!” — is still making the rounds across the country as a regional touring production after playing on Broadway from 2015 to 2017. It features the couple’s journey from being Cuban refugees in Miami to international superstardom, set to the beat of hit songs like “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “Get On Your Feet,” “1-2-3” and “Coming Out of the Dark.” This year, a newer Spanish-only version debuted in Washington, DC, with future productions in Spain and Argentina planned.
In 2021, the family also revealed another layer of their life, opening up about their daughter Emily’s coming-out journey on “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” a spin-off of Jada Pinkett Smith’s talk show.
“In one fell swoop I lost my mother, and at the same time, Emily was going through her struggles,” Gloria recalled of the tumultuous time, circa 2017. “Em wasn’t feeling comfortable saying what was going on with her, which to me was a tough thing to see, because all we’ve ever done is be very open and very vocal about supporting the LGBTQ community.”
“We wanted to share that experience because we feel it’s important for families to talk about these things, especially Latinos who tend to find these subjects taboo,” the singer added. “And although they may know, accept and love someone, they don’t want to talk about it. They don’t feel comfortable. But the person that is coming out needs to hear words of support and love.”
Gloria wants to make clear that, despite her wealth and fame, not everything is perfect. “We’re a celebrity family and people think, ‘Oh, everything is hunky dory,’ which it is really, don’t get me wrong: We have very beautiful lives,” she said. “But we’re human beings, like everybody else.
“Through music, we try to unite cultures and people. And we’ll just keep doing that because to me, that’s the most important contribution we can make.”
And actually, Gloria Estefan has decided Mariah Carey can hold on to her title: “I’m already the Conga Queen, so she can keep Queen of Christmas if that’s what she likes.”
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