President Barack Obama plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to Gloria and Emilio Estefan later this month.
The Cuban-American power couple from Miami were among the17 medal recipients named by the White House on Monday, along with other luminaries such as the late baseball player and manager Yogi Berra, theater composer Stephen Sondheim and film director Steven Spielberg. Obama will present the medals Nov. 24 at the White House.
Singer Gloria Estefan “introduced Latin music to a global audience,” the White House said in a statement. Her husband, music producer Emilio Estefan, “influenced a generation of artists” and “helped popularize Latin music around the world.”
The Estefans were founding members of the Miami Sound Machine, which recorded hits such as “Conga” and “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” and both have been inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. The couple has most recently been involved in bringing their story to Broadway with a musical titled, “On Your Feet!” The Estefans are also featured in a new HBO documentary, The Latin Explosion: A New America.
The Estefans have been involved in politics for years. They hosted a fundraiser with Obama at their Miami Beach home in 2010 — while maintaining that their interest in politics is nonpartisan — and Gloria Estefan asked Obama questions for a Univision program in 2009. Earlier that year, Obama had named Emilio Estefan to a commission to study the creation of a national Latino museum.
In September, the Estefans rallied other Latin artists to record “We’re All Mexican,” a song that pushed back at 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.