Para Gloria Estefan, hitting the recording studio with her family to create her first holiday album since Through Your Eyes em 1993 was a dream come true.
Speaking to PEOPLE about Estefan Family Christmas, a holiday album she recorded with her 10-year-old grandson Sasha and daughter Emily, 27, the Cuban singer revealed how the fun project came to be — and why she’ll cherish it forever.
“I always host Thanksgiving at my home. And since Sasha was little, he loved to put together little shows for the family after dinner,” the 65-year-old singer tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I’d play the guitar. Emily would either play guitar or piano. No 2019, I said to them, 'Você sabe o que? Let’s do something different this year. Let’s write a little chorus, something short and then Sasha, you can take the mic around to the different family members, and they can say what they’re thankful for.”
“No 2021, Sasha said to me, ‘I think something weird is happening with my voice when I try to sing higher notes.’ And he had shot up four inches in the past couple of months. E eu pensei, 'Oh, here it comes, a puberty train.’ And at that moment it hit me that it would be really great to capture his child voice.”
Ela adicionou, “Então, I went to them, e eu disse, ‘What do you guys think about us doing a Christmas record so we can share our little Christmas shows with everyone else, but done professionally and in a cool way?’ And they loved it.”
The 17-track record, with songs in both English and Spanish, features an original track called “Grato,” which was inspired by their Thanksgiving tradition.
The recording process, a “Don’t Wanna Lose You” singer says, was a great opportunity to teach Sasha what she’s learned “throughout the years.”
“Foi maravilhoso. We spent a couple months together in the studio. Sasha learned a lot. He stayed with me the whole time, even when I was there untill 2:00 ou 3:00 pela manhã,” ela diz. “Quero dizer, Emily doesn’t need to be produced in any way. Although Sasha would sit there and give her ideas!”
O “Mi Tierra” performer also convinced her husband Emilio, 69, to sing a duet with Sasha on the album, which he’d never done before — and likely won’t do again.
“He was excited about it. Nós vamos, what he wasn’t excited about later on was me producing him, because he’s always on the other side telling everybody what to do,” ela diz com uma risada. “It turned out beautiful. He’s got this innocence in his voice, and it really came through on that song. And singing with his grandson for him was incredibly special.”
Ela adiciona, “He goes, ‘It was the first and last.’ He only did it because he knew it was something incredibly unique and special and was going to be forever for posterity.”
Because this is a family album, the singer-songwriter felt it wasn’t quite finished without an important piece: their pets!
“eu pensei, 'Oh, this is a family album. We absolutely need our pets in here, because they are part of our family.’ So Emily, we brought Nova, o cachorro dela, into the studio, and Emily knows how to get Nova to sing,” ela diz, adding that Emily’s cats Alula and Leona were also featured. “I recorded mine [dogs Bowser, Margarida, Hamilton and Mathilda] at my house because they sometimes just break into these howls, and we captured them that way. Quincy, my grandson’s dog, is always sleeping, and he’s not too vocal. Então, we recorded him snoring.”
In light of the holiday spirit, a Into the Light singer also shared her favorite Christmas memory.
“I have so many beautiful Christmas memories. It’s always going to have to do with the kids, [mas] I actually have a funny one. As we worked more, and I had less time to put up the tree, I would hire someone to come do [isto],” ela lembra.
“So the kids were telling me, ‘Come on mom, for old time sake, let’s put the tree up ourselves.’ eu vou, ‘You’re going to fall asleep and leave me to it.’ And they’re going, 'Não, of course not, we’ll help you.’ We start putting up the tree, within half an hour they were both asleep on the couch, and I wanted to kill them,” ela diz brincando. “But still, somehow that’s a really big memory that stands out, because the time spent together is always the most special moments.”
Estefan Family Christmas, which Gloria says will feel like you’re joining her “holiday party,” está fora agora.