Gloria Estefan was one of five entertainers who were recognized Sunday evening at the Kennedy Center Honors. She is the first Cuban American to be awarded such an accolade.
The other four recipients honored were singer Lionel Richie, hip-hop artist LL Cool J, television producer Norman Lear and dancer Carmen de Lavallade.
“This award is the best example of what immigrants can do to contribute to the richness of this country,” Estefan told el Nuevo Herald on Monday. “And in the personal sphere, it represents a way of honoring my father [José Manuel Fajardo], who thanked President Kennedy shortly before he was assassinated, for having taken him out of prison in Cuba.”
Fajardo was arrested for training the exile brigade’s tank division for the Bay of Pigs invasion, and served nearly two years in prison in Cuba.
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The 60-year-old singer said the award also goes to her mother, Gloria Fajardo, who died in June. She was 88.
“My mother was my professor,” Estefan told El Nuevo Herald in 2008. “When I was a child, she sang me lullabies so I’d go to sleep. That’s how it began.”
On the decision by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump not to attend the Kennedy Center event, the singer said: “I thought it was very sensible that President Donald Trump and his wife did not attend the ceremony. Otherwise, it would have become a political event and not an opportunity to pay homage to the artists.”
In August, the White House said the presidential couple would decline the invitation so that the honorees could celebrate “without any political distraction.”
Estefan said she is looking ahead to January when her musical “On Your Feet,” about her career beginnings with husband Emilio Estefan, will begin a run in Washington. And in 2018 she will record an album of Brazilian music.
“Christmas will be spent in Miami,” she concluded.
The ceremony will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26, on CBS.
Follow Arturo Arias-Polo on Twitter: @arturoariaspolo