The 23rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony is now in the history books. As I said last week, I didn’t go this year because of the cost, plus, I no longer have a tux because I live in a place where the temperatures are warm all year round and people wear shorts pretty much everywhere.
I thought I would do a follow up on the Latin Grammys piece from last week’s Music Sin Fronteras before moving back to the local music scene again.
A lot of familiar faces were nominated, and a lot of predictable winners emerged. But there were some surprises.
As I said last week, the biggest surprise was the winner of the Best New Artist, 95-year-old Angela Alvarez, a resident of Baton Rouge, who has been writing music for her entire life. She started as a child but her conservative Cuban father forbade her to continue, saying only men could write music. But after migrating to the US, she picked it up again, and her, grandson, composer Carlos José Alvarez, recorded her performing the songs that he had heard her sing at family gatherings his whole life. And now she is oldest person to receive a Latin Grammy. Rumor is there is a second album in the works.
She bested 9 other nominees – most of whom could have been her grandchildren, including, Sofía Campos, Cande Y Paulo, Clarissa, Pol Granch, Nabález, Tiare, Vale, Yahritza Y Su Esencia, and Nicole Zignago. Alvarez shared the prize with Mexican singer Silvana Estrada, whom I recommended in my Hot Half Dozen column a few weeks ago.
The other surprise – at least to me – was reggaeton queen Carol G picking up 3 nominations but was not nominated in the Best Reggaeton category, which was won by Tainy, Bad Bunny & Julieta Venegas for Lo Siento Bb:/. Love it or hate it, reggaeton has taken over the world from cumbia and is moving in on rap.
Incidentally, Bad Bunny will be in Guadalajara’s Azteca Stadium December 9, doing hip hop, rap, reggaeton, and whatever the hell he wants. But it is sold out and has been since soon after it was announced, so I won’ be there. And I missed another third of the Grammy-winning group, Julieta Venegas, who was at Guadalajara’s Conjunto Santander auditorium November 23. She was on my radio show a few years ago and is a thoroughly delightful person as well as hugely talented singer. But she is coming back.
Best Latin Jazz Album was won by an interesting combination – Eliane Elias, Chick Corea, Chucho Valdés. Chick Corea is a familiar name to all jazz and many music fans, as is Chucho Valdés. founder of Irakere, one of Cuba’s best-known Latin jazz bands . But music fans not steeped in jazz may not recognize Eliane Elias even though she is a multiple Grammy winner and has been releasing albums since her 1986 debut album, Amanda. Of more interest to me is that she has pushed the boundaries of fusion music, especially Brazilian jazz and world music.
Some of the other winners were not surprises: Bad Bunny for Urban Fusion, Rosalia for Best Alternative Album, and Jorge Drexler & C. Tangana for Record of the Year with Tocarte ( I have yet to understand the difference between the Album of the Year and the Record of the Year, but I guess the judges know).
Despite the presence of many Mexican nominees, I would have like to have seen more Mexicans taking home statues, but given the globalization of Latin and Latin American music, it was not surprising that Mexicans were well represented but by no means dominated. Being so close to the American market and bringing Latin music to a huge music market that used to be Mexico doesn’t necessarily give a country and edge. Talent counts and that is how it should be.
But I still would have liked to have seen Anita, Christina Aguilera and Elsa y Elmar take home statues.
My own consolation prize is that Guadalajara is now Mexico’s second largest music market and has numerous world-class venues so it is likely they all will be here on tour at some point and I can see them live. When they do, I will write about it.
By Patrick O’Heffernan
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