Adolfo Perez Butron
Mark Bautz
November 03, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Miami-based pop star Gloria Estefan will perform her fans’ favorite songs tonight on A&E’s “Live By Request” (9 p.m.). To prepare for this latest installment of the popular live music series, Estefan has rehearsed more than 40 tunes with her 17-piece band. Viewers can phone or e-mail her with their requests. The concert will also be cybercast live. At this site, Web surfers can post their comments to the singer or find an 800 number to call her (the e-mail feature is working now, while the telephone number will be posted at 9 p.m. tonight).

Estefan is the eighth artist to perform on “Live By Request,” which was founded by singer Tony Bennett, his son and manager Danny Bennett, and Sony’s Paul Rappaport. “My dad was scheduled to appear on the Larry King Show,” Danny explains, “and he said, ‘Instead of answering questions, why don’t I go on and take song requests?’ I told him, ‘Hey, that’s a really great idea. Let’s not do that on Larry King.'” Bennett’s first “Live By Request” show, aired on Valentine’s Day 1996, drew nearly 1.5 million calls and won an Emmy.

So far, such guests as James Taylor, Johnny Mathis, and Phil Collins have appeared — all established artists with vast song catalogs, whose easy-on-the ears approach to music appeals to A&E’s over-30 audience. “There’s a void with music on television today,” says Danny. “It’s very much dominated by VH1 and MTV, who cater to people in their teens and 20s. Beyond that you don’t have anyone else doing live music.” Next up for the series: The elder Bennett returns on Dec. 7 for a special show celebrating his 50th anniversary in the music business.

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