September has always been a great month for me when it comes to the Library of Congress. Aside from the National Book Festival, it’s the month when Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announces the recipients of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Previous winners have included legendary crooners such as Tony Bennett, Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, and Carole King.
As the Library of Congress shared today, the 2019 recipients are Emilio and Gloria Estefan. “The music created by Emilio and Gloria Estefan makes you want to listen to the beat and get on your feet,” said Dr. Hayden via an L.O.C. press release. “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.”
These international superstars are the first musician-songwriters of Hispanic descent and the first couple to be recognized for the Gershwin Prize. They became famous in the mid-1980s, launching a career that includes hits such as “Conga,” “Get on Your Feet,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” and (Vicki Sue Robinson cover) “Turn the Beat Around.” The Estefans have a total of 26 Grammy Awards between them.
“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,” said Gloria Estefan.
In the last year, Emilio and Gloria haven’t been strangers to Washington, D.C. Gloria performed a memorable duet with Stevie Wonder when Bennett received his Gershwin Prize at DAR Constitution Hall. She was recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors that winter as part of its national celebration of the arts. In January 2018, On Your Feet! came to the Kennedy Center Stage as a strong and vibrant musical about Emilio and Gloria’s story of going from Cuba to America and achieving success.
Emilio and Gloria Estefan will receive the Gershwin Prize in early 2019 in Washington, D.C. As in previous years, PBS stations will air the Gershwin Prize concert sometime in spring 2019. The announcer and the performers for the star-studded tribute concert have yet to be announced.