Gloria Estefan’s Miami sound is being recognized for its historic importance

Emilio Estefan and Gloria Estefan attend the premiere of the HBO documentary, ‘The Latin Explosion: A New America,’ in New York.
Emilio Estefan and Gloria Estefan attend the premiere of the HBO documentary, ‘The Latin Explosion: A New America,’ in New York. AP File/2015

Miami or San Francisco to represent in the latest batch of songs or albums to be added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry?

How about both?

Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” were among 25 recordings added to the National Recording Registry Wednesday.

The Library of Congress annually honors artists’ recordings for their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the American soundscape.

The song, producer Emilio Estefan said, “brought a new sound to the world. Gloria and Kiki, who wrote the song, and me as producer, were extremely excited. I took a chance. The only way you can move music forward is bringing new sounds to make history. So this is a history.”

“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” joined a Top 10 in 1987 that included pop hits like U2’s spiritual rock classic, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” George Michael’s Prince-pastiche “I Want Your Sex” and T’Pau’s ’80s-dated “Heart and Soul.”

“It was a different generation combining sounds,” Emilio Estefan said of Miami Sound Machine’s entry. “You see that Latin influence. We are happy for the city and especially for the music, more than anything. We are honored. We’ve been so blessed in our career.”

“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” was recorded at North Miami’s Criteria Studios in 1987 for the album, “Let it Loose.” Miami Sound Machine had released nine previous albums and achieved its international breakthrough with the English-language “Conga” in 1985. But for “Let It Loose,” which was introduced via its lead single, “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” in June 1987, Gloria Estefan’s name was moved out front.

Gloria LetItLoose

Estefan’s voice and image gave the Miami Sound Machine a bigger presence and a clear identity on the pop landscape dominated by acts like Madonna, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson at the time.

“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” became Estefan’s fourth Top 10 hit in English. With the release of the “Let It Loose” follow-up album, “Cuts Both Ways,” the Miami Sound Machine name was dropped entirely.

The song also featured prominently in “On Your Feet,” the Broadway jukebox musical biography of Gloria and Emilio Estefan that had a smash run at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in October 2017.

But “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” written by Enrique “Kiki” Garcia and Gloria Estefan, was the hit that almost didn’t happen. Like “Conga,” the mainstream music industry didn’t know what to do with a pop single that featured such strong Afro-Cuban rhythms.

“It’s about taking chances and bringing something of your own sound and never forgetting where you came from,” Emilio Estefan said. “When people say it’s not going to work you have to take chances and innovate. When I brought this to the label everyone was laughing and saying it would never happen.”

And now “Rhythm” has gone where even “Conga” has not — and boogied its way into the National Registry.

“I’m not surprised,” Emilio said of the Library of Congress’ song choice from the Estefan catalog. “‘Rhythm’ was more innovative for the actual sound — the Cuban African sounds that made it do different not only in the States but worldwide.”

Also, he says, “So many movies have used ‘Rhythm.’ ” The song was a pop culture staple from France to Florida.

Last year, Gloria Estefan was also honored as the first Cuban American to earn a Kennedy Center Honors recognition for her career’s impact.

Bennett San Fran
Tony Bennett’s ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ album includes the title track hit single. Columbia

Meanwhile, Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” the title track to his 1962 album, became his signature hit, a song the beloved 91-year-old singer still performs on tour.

Also in the National Recording Registry’s Class of 2018: Fleetwood Mac’s landmark “Rumours” album, which spent 31 weeks at No. 1 in 1977-78, Run-DMC's 1986 breakout album, “Raising Hell,” the 1965 film soundtrack to “The Sound of Music,” The Ink Spots’ 1939 doo-wop standard, “If I Didn’t Care,” and Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl,” which was made famous by The Temptations in its 1964 recording.

Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours.’ Warner Bros.

In addition, Bill Haley and His Comets’ 1954 rock ‘n’ roll anthem “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock,” Kenny Loggins’ kicky title tune to the 1984 flick “Footloose,” Chic’s 1978 disco classic “'Le Freak,” which originated when Chic composer Nile Rodgers was turned away at the rope outside Studio 54, Kenny Rogers’ 1978 story song “The Gambler,” which led to a slew of TV movies, and Harry Belafonte’s 1956 LP “Calypso” made the grade.

This latest batch of 25 brings the National Recording Registry to 500 inductees.

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