Gloria Estefan

The title of Gloria Estefan's latest album, 90 Millas ("90 Miles"), alludes to the physical distance between her native Cuba and the mainland United States. It's no surprise, then, that lyrically, she continues her peaceful activism in favor of democracy there. This includes beautiful ballads like "Cuando Cuba Sea Libre" ("When Cuba Is Free") and romantic songs like "No Llores" ("Don't Cry"), a downtempo rumba that features Carlos Santana, Jose Feliciano, and Miami's own legendary trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval. The disc is made more poignant by the fact that it was Israel "Cachao" López's final studio recording. Cachao was credited (alongside his brother Orestes) with the creation of mambo — arguably the first Cuban genre to be recognized around the world — back in the late '30s. The veteran bassist passed away last December at age 89, just a few months after 90 Millas was released. A lifelong South Floridian since emigrating from Cuba as a small child, Estefan understands the importance of giving back to the fans who helped make her an international celebrity. As such, part of the profits from her concert at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood will be donated to the education funds of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Indian River county public schools.

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Ernest Barteldes