MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A huge party with thousands of friends was more than a celebration of the release of Gloria Estefan's new album. It was a reward.

``I have been working really hard. I really needed a party. This is it,'' she said. ``This is my place to celebrate. I'm out there for the fans. That's what it's about.''

Fans were hoping to see Ms. Estefan perform at the block party Friday that drew thousands in honor of the release of ``gloria!'' _ her 19th album since she started with Miami Sound Machine in 1975.

Ms. Estefan, who lives on Star Island in Miami Beach, came on stage with her husband, Emilio, and her son, Nayib, and thanked everyone for coming. She sang a few lines from the album's first single, ``Heavens What I Feel,'' before joining the dancing crowd.