Gloria Estefan can tell you the exact moment her life changed forever: March 20, 1990, when a semi-truck crashed into her tour bus on a snowy Pennsylvania highway, breaking her back.
“I was taking a nap on the bus, trying to be fresh for the show that night, and suddenly I was lying on the floor, not able to stand up, looking up at the ceiling, going, ‘What happened?’ The pain was excruciating,” Estefan, 62, says, recalling the accident over a Zoom chat from her home office in Miami, where she and husband Emilio, 67, are isolating during the pandemic. That near-death experience shifted her focus.
“There was definitely a before and after from that accident. Even though I wouldn’t want to go through it again, I learned a lot about just living day to day,” she says. “I remember thinking, ‘Maybe this is the reason that I’ve gone through this; maybe I can be an example to people of how to take control of our lives.’”
After an arduous recovery, Estefan indeed regained control of her life – and made history as she took her career to new heights, from becoming the first Latin artist to headline the Super Bowl halftime show to winning Grammys and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“I never got into music for fame,” Estefan says. “I did it because I love music, and it’s been the thing that has gotten me through the toughest times of my life.”
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November 2, 2020