Updated: 19:43 EST, 4 September 2008>
The last time Latin diva Gloria Estefan performed here she sold out nine nights at Wembley Arena.
Now she's sitting in the tranquil tropical garden of her Miami mansion, preparing to perform in Britain for the first time in more than a decade.
Gloria remains one of the richest and most successful pop stars in the world. Her albums still sell by the millions, most usually go platinum, and her singles continue to rise magically to the top of the charts with her famous brand of uptempo Latin pop.
Back in the UK: Gloria is to perform at Wembley for the first time in a decade
And yet we have seen much less of her since March 1990. Until then, life for Gloria and her family was going swimmingly.
The Estefan experience was seemingly unstoppable. They were pop's ambassadors and even won plaudits from the then-President, George Bush Snr.
But their idyllic life took a dramatic turn. Their tour bus - with Gloria, her husband Emilio and their son Nayib, then nine, on board - was involved in a horrific road accident when it collided with a juggernaut on a Pennsylvania highway.
She was nearly crippled and won a £5 million out-of-court settlement, but her rehabilitation was long and painful.
'I had a premonition that something bad was going to happen,' says Gloria, now 50. 'I was whispering to Emilio as we got on the tour bus: "I wish my life could freeze right now."
'I was terrified by the perfection of my life. I even put an elevator in our home because I felt that I would need it one day.
'Just before the crash I put on a movie, stretched out on the couch, made sure our son was in his bunk and fell asleep. Then the bus stopped suddenly, I opened my eyes. There was a terrible explosion. Then I was on the floor. Then it went eerily quiet.
'I knew I had broken my back because I felt a searing pain in my spine. I called for Emilio, who had been sitting by the driver, but only his tennis shoes remained. He'd been knocked out of them to the back of the bus.'
Thankfully, Emilio told Gloria to stay on the floor and not to move. Had she attempted to do so she would certainly have been paralysed for life.
As it was, Gloria needed two 8in titanium rods inserted into her back to meld the broken vertebrae, and over the next six months she had to learn to walk again.
Both Emilio and her son blamed themselves for the accident. Emilio had persuaded her to take a detour to an important business dinner in New York - and the accident happened on the night of the function.
'In hospital, he would come into the room and break down without saying anything. Then he'd just turn around and walk out,' recalls Gloria.
Award-winner: The singer has won five Grammys
And for months Nayib hid a secret. On the day of the crash he'd been jumping on the pavement, singing the rhyme Step On A Crack And Break Your Mother's Back.
'Because he has an irreverent sense of humour, he was deliberately stamping on the cracks. I didn't know it, but for ages he thought everything was his fault,' she says.
'But in spite of the accident, I felt an odd relief that it had happened so that I could learn not to take anything for granted. I also discovered that I had a lot of discipline and patience I didn't know I had.'
For the woman who had actually made herself into her own ideal - losing weight, keeping fit, changing her whole way of life to suit her sexy pin-up image - her patience was initially tested to the limit in the aftermath of the accident.
'The scarring was traumatic. I didn't want to face it. And when I did look at it, I just broke down,' she says.
'For a long time I felt undesirable as a woman. Rationally, I knew I was being stupid - I was walking, for goodness' sake - but when I looked in the mirror I despaired.
'The first time Emilio and I had sex after the accident was such a strange feeling, it all felt very alien. My body wasn't my own any more.'
As if that wasn't enough, Gloria had always talked about having a second child - Emilio desperately wanted a daughter.
But doctors feared her back wouldn't be strong enough to take the strain of pregnancy.
Lasting love: Gloria has been married to Emilio Estefan for 30 years
Yet she made a remarkable recovery, learnt to walk again and was given the go-ahead to try for children in 1992. But nothing happened.
'It was incredibly stressful. For the first year we just kept on trying, not knowing if anything was wrong,' explains Gloria. Finally, doctors decided to investigate.
Months of tests followed but still they could find nothing wrong. The couple asked for advice from everyone.
Gloria would even stand on her head after making love - a tip given to her by Paula Yates after an appearance on The Big Breakfast.
In a final attempt to solve the problem, Gloria was admitted to hospital for an exploratory operation.
The surgeons discovered that the impact of the coach crash had been so forceful that one of her Fallopian tubes had shifted.
Surgeons operated successfully, although they had to embark on a series of fertility injections.
On stage: Gloria performing in her Eighties heyday
It wasn't until their second attempt that she managed to conceive. 'Emilio just couldn't believe it. He kept saying: "Really? Are you sure?" It took him a long time to accept it.
'After all the tips I'd been receiving for falling pregnant, it was by the "on your back with your legs in the air method",' she says.
Nine months later to the day, Emily Marie Consuelo Estefan was born.
'Madonna was over to dinner and all we talked about was babies. My baby, the problems I'd had conceiving after breaking my back, the baby she wanted at 37 - the same age as I was with Emily.
'So I gave her two tips. One, have a pain-killing epidural injection. Two, if you want to help nature, get your legs in the air!' she laughs.
It is a powerful laugh for someone who's a diminutive 5ft 2in. But then, Gloria has much to be jolly about because Emily, now 14, is touring with her as part of her band.
'After we had Emily, I stopped touring because I wanted to enjoy her early years. My son enjoyed touring with me as a child and we always took his tutor, Miss Rooney, with us on the tour bus.
'But Emily is involved in her school sports and activities, and I didn't want to take her away from that.
'She's now become an amazing musician - she plays piano, guitar, drums - and I felt she was ready and willing to be part of my tour for the first time.
'We have a surprise built up in the show where mother and daughter perform together. Emily's very shy, so when she's behind the drums it's kind of protection for her. I would never force her into anything because I was also shy when I was a teenager.'
Gloria never set out to find fame or fortune. Her ambitions, like her background, were far more humble.
Born Gloria Fajardo in pre-revolutionary Cuba, she was two years old when Castro came to power in 1959 and the family fled to Miami.
They had been comfortably off, but in the great Land of Opportunity they were penniless.
Her father, a former motorcycle policeman, was obsessed with ousting Castro. He fought at the Bay of Pigs and was held as a political prisoner for two years.
He later fought in Vietnam but returned from the war with a wasting disease, similar to multiple sclerosis, which eventually killed him.
While her mother went out to work as a teacher and to college in the evening, Gloria - at the age of 12 - was her father's nursemaid and a surrogate mother to her younger sister, Becky.
Party time: Friends and family joined the singer as she celebrated her anniversary and birthday last week
'My father had abandoned us, left my mother to cope with two daughters. OK, so it was for political reasons, but he still left us. Even though he was my father and I loved him, there was never really a relationship there.
'I didn't really know the man, and yet I was the one who was supposed to care for him. All my life I have had a hideous fear of paralysis because I grew up nursing my dad who could not even feed himself - it was ironic that I was also nearly crippled.
'So during the 55 minutes in the tour bus that I waited for the paramedics to arrive, I thought a lot about my father.'
Gloria's mother worked all day and studied all evening while Gloria tended her father.
'It was tough because I wished my mother had been at home more - not so much during the day but at least in the evenings. Looking back, I guess she was trying to escape.
'I thought it was going to go on for ever - as a child, 12 months seems like 12 years.'
Meanwhile, Gloria was a good girl and conformed. 'Mum had rules. I couldn't shave my legs until I was 15 or pluck my eyebrows. I wasn't allowed to wear make-up.
'She would buy my clothes. I had to wear what she wanted. I always had to do what she wanted. I just did it.
' When her father died it was a painful release. All through those years of looking after him, I dreaded being in such a helpless condition myself, having no control over my life.
'I reacted against it by having complete control. I made sure I was as strong as an ox. When he died, I transformed myself from a lumpy, fat teenager with one big eyebrow and huge cheeks - both sets - to a very fit person.'
It was a radical transformation. Gloria, the frumpy teenager, became a girl who ran eight times around Star Island, Miami, before breakfast then did a two-hour workout.
After her father died she committed her one and only act of rebellion - she joined a band then fell in love with the lead singer, Emilio Estefan of Miami Sound Machine.
Anxious about this unknown and glamorous world, Gloria's grandmother and mother went with her to his parents' flat as chaperones and even tried to dissuade her from becoming a singer, even though Gloria's mother was the one who had originally inspired her musically.
Latin diva: Gloria remains one of the most successful popstars in the world
'My mother would sing Cuban songs to calm me while she was putting on my nappies. At only two, when we were still in Cuba, I was singing the military songs which I heard the soldiers sing as they passed our door.'
But her dedication to music was also an emotional escape from nursing her father.
'I was very withdrawn and shy. I would lock myself in my room and learn songs and sing with my guitar,' she recalls.
Emilio, who was four years older than her and with a reputation before they met for being a womaniser, became her lifeline and soul-mate.
On Tuesday they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Their relationship has been called one of the great American love affairs. But they also have a vital working relationship.
Emilio is a driven man whose family lost everything in the Cuban coup. His legacy from that experience has been a fierce immigrant mentality which has ensured that the Estefans don't owe a penny to anybody.
'Emilio created me. He told me I had to change "only about 95 per cent". I wanted to be a psychiatrist after getting my psychology degree at Miami University.
'But Emilio convinced me to carry on with the band and turn full-time professional,' she explains. He wanted the superstardom for me.'
In recent years, this has included other areas outside music - she has also written her third bestselling children's book and has just finished a screenplay with singer Connie Francis about Francis's life.
Gloria will play her in the movie, which she hopes will start filming next year.
Meanwhile, the Estefans' fortune has been invested wisely in hotels, restaurants and leisure complexes.
Their latest is a new hotel on Vero Beach in Florida. But as Gloria insists: 'I could have anything I want but don't want for anything. The biggest gift is being back on tour - this time with the daughter I once thought I could never have.'
- Gloria Estefan plays at Wembley Arena next Wednesday. For more information, go to www.gloriaestefan.com
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1052573/How-Gloria-Estefan-overcame-crippling-accident-helped-Madonna-conceive.html