Happy to be an Este­fan, Glo­ria’s daugh­ter charts own path

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - ADRI­ANA GOMEZ LI­CON

MI­AMI — Emily Este­fan was so self-con­scious about be­ing the daugh­ter of Cuban-born su­per­star Glo­ria Este­fan that she avoided singing in front of any­one un­til she was 18. Then, one win­ter night at the fam­ily’s Florida beach house, she fi­nally sang for her mother. First she asked her to look away.

“I was like shak­ing, shak­ing, shak­ing, shak­ing. Ev­ery­thing in my body was shak­ing. But I did it,” said Emily Este­fan, now 22.

Then Glo­ria looked at her, and she cried — the two things her daugh­ter had asked her not to do.

Four years later, Emily is re­leas­ing her de­but al­bum, “Take What­ever You Want,” which came out Fri­day like a dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence. “I am hon­oured to come from this fam­ily. I would love to yell it from the moun­tains and also be rec­og­nized as a per­son,” she said.

Emily al­ready had been fol­low­ing in the mu­si­cal foot­steps of her par­ents. Her fa­ther, Emilio Este­fan, is one of the big­gest names in Latin mu­sic pro­duc­tion and founder of the band that turned Glo­ria Este­fan into a star. The younger Este­fan had learned gui­tar, key­boards and drums and en­rolled in Bos­ton’s pres­ti­gious Berklee Col­lege of Mu­sic.

But af­ter that night when she let her­self go, in­spi­ra­tion to be­come a singer and song­writer kicked in.

When she re­turned to Berklee af­ter her win­ter break, she be­gan to spend her early morn­ing hours writ­ing feisty songs about free­dom, pen­ning the lyrics and the mu­sic of ev­ery in­stru­ment for her soul and jazz-in­flu­enced al­bum.

In an in­ter­view at her late grand­par­ents’ man­sion in an ex­clu­sive is­land be­tween Mi­ami and Mi­ami Beach, Este­fan talked about “huge shoes to fill,” born the heiress of the per­former of such hits such as “Conga” and “1-2-3.”

Of her par­ents she said: “I will never be them.” But she went on to say: “The mo­ment when you say none of that mat­ters is when you re­al­ize that you love it, and you love it enough to ded­i­cate your­self to it. It doesn’t mat­ter what comes out, as long as it is hon­est.”

At the man­sion’s garage, her mother watched her re­hearse with her band for her first solo con­cert, and then stepped out for a chat.

“There’s soul­ful­ness, there’s R&B in­flu­ences, there’s depth. She sounds like, hon­estly, a 40-year-old singer who went through hell. It comes out, all this emo­tion in her mu­sic,” Glo­ria Este­fan said.

Glo­ria Este­fan thought maybe she was just a proud mom, blinded by love. So, Glo­ria played a track to her hus­band with­out telling him who per­formed it. “He said ‘Oh my God. She is amaz­ing. Who is that?’ ‘She is your daugh­ter,’ I said, and he flipped.”

Emily Este­fan is, at least right now, more shy than her fa­mous mom on­stage, pre­fer­ring to be shielded by drums or with a gui­tar around her neck. She dresses all in black with bulky mil­i­tary boots, and her dark black hair is pulled to one side, the rest shaved.

Lis­ten­ers may find a com­mon vi­brato in Emily’s first sin­gle, “Ask Me To,” to her mother’s early boleros such as “If We Were Lovers.” Emily sings in a dif­fer­ent way, but both voices are rich, and crisp, es­pe­cially in falset­tos.

“When peo­ple say ‘Oh, you have ter­ri­ble sim­i­lar­i­ties to your mom.’ I say ‘Yes. I lived in her womb for nine months,’” she said. “That’s cool. If that com­forts you, that’s OK. But lis­ten to me also.”

LYNNE SLADKY, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Emily Este­fan re­leased her de­but al­bum, “Take What­ever You Want,” on Fri­day.

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