Oye mi canto

Gloria Estefan, 1989

How did Gloria Estefan break new ground for mainstream popular music in the United States?

In the song, Estefan sings about freedom that "is difficult to share." What does she mean by that? Is this message about Cuba under Fidel Castro, the United States, or both?

Estefan sings that "someday it'll happen." What do you think she means by that?

What elements of Cuban musical styles do you hear in the song? How do these features amplify the song's messages?

"Oye Mi Canto" was released in both Spanish- and English-language versions. This was certainly for commercial purposes, but it also sheds light on the title of the album, Cuts Both Ways. What do you think the album title means?

"Oye mi canto" performed by Gloria Estefan on Cuts Both Ways, ©1989. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube (offical video)

For more information on Gloria Estefan, visit her official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source:


Gloria Estefan (née Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo) was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1957, just prior to the Cuban Revolution. She has been instrumental in popularizing Latino music in the United States and around the world. In addition to her many Grammy Awards, she recorded the official song for the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, performed two Superbowl halftime shows, and received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017. She is known as the "Queen of Latin Pop."

Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan.

In Cuba, Estefan's father was a bodyguard for dictator Fulgencio Batista, who was overthrown in 1959. Her family escaped the Revolution and fled to Miami, Florida. Her career began in 1975 when she joined the band of her future husband, Emilio Estefan. Originally called the Miami Latin Boys, the band members changed the group's name to the Miami Sound Machine after the addition of Gloria.

The Miami Sound Machine quickly gained recognition. Their first four albums, recorded by the Hispanic division of CBS Records, were primarily disco pop along with original ballads sung in Spanish. They were popular primarily in Spanish-speaking countries and within Latino communities around the world, including in the United States. Seeking to expand their appeal, in 1984 the band signed with Epic Records and began to record some songs in English. Their first song with broad crossover appeal was the disco hit "Dr. Beat." In 1989, to reflect the stardom of its lead singer, the band's name was again changed, this time to Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine.

In 1989 Gloria released her first solo album, Cuts Both Ways, the title of which reflects her desire to appeal to both English- and Spanish-speaking audiences. The album features "Oye mi canto" in both Spanish and English. The song encourages acceptance between people of different backgrounds and viewpoints. She urges her listeners to renounce hate and work with others to find common ground and make a new, more tolerant future.



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