Who Mentored Gloria Estefan?
A photo of Gloria Estefan
Singer/songwriter Gloria Estefan originally rose to prominence in the 1970s by joining the Miami Sound Machine. As she segued into a solo recording career, she became one of the first Latin artists to achieve major mainstream worldwide success.
There is only one person in my life whom I consider my mentor–my grandmother on my mother’s side, Consuelo Garcia. Besides her obvious role as a grandparent, she represented to me a vivid example of a woman ahead of her time. She was a strong, caring, spiritual humanitarian who filled my life with possibilities, and through her example, gave me the belief that there was nothing I could not do or achieve in life. Although she was born in 1905 in Cuba, she felt no limitations and even aspired to be a lawyer, an unheard of profession for a Latin woman. And though she had to leave school to help her large family at the age of ten, she taught herself to read and write and became an amazingly astute businesswoman, and extremely independent.
She cared for me from birth, and nurtured the thought that music was a gift I had received. And although I was reluctant to follow that path, I somehow found myself involved with music because our gifts are meant to be shared for the good and pleasure of others. We remained extremely close throughout my life, and even after her death I have often found comfort in her memory and the wisdom she shared with me.
My grandmother always pointed out my strengths and filled me with hope for the future. She constantly nourished my inquisitiveness, and shared many quests for seeking answers to my questions. She wasn’t afraid to let me see her vulnerability, and made that intimacy an asset to be celebrated. Primarily through her example, I learned that we, as women, have limitless potential. I finally said yes to music because of her.
The most valuable lessons I learned from my grandmother were to discover what makes you happy, and do it with as much energy and joy as you can muster. And that success takes perseverance, determination, and an unwavering belief in what you have chosen to do.
I feel fortunate to have found such an amazing mentor. I don’t believe that people like my grandmother are commonplace, or even a given within a family. She had a profound influence on who I am and continues to be my inspiration.
Excerpted from The Person Who Changed My Life: Prominent Americans Recall Their Mentors. Matilda Raffa Cuomo, Editor, with foreword by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.