Posts Tagged ‘Best New Artist’

Photo: Kimberly Yatsko via EuroNews.
Latin Grammy Awards 2022: 95-year-old Alvarez was nominated for Best New Artist. “Sometimes, I pinch myself,” she says.

File this one under Never Too Old. A sparkling new career awaits a 95-year-old. That’s because of her genuine talent, of course, but it didn’t hurt to have a grandson with a promotional streak.

Sydney Page wrote at the Washington Post, “Growing up in Cuba, Angela Alvarez wanted to be a singer. But after coming to the United States as a young woman, she found herself cleaning a bank in Colorado to make a living.

“It now almost seems impossible that her long-held dream has become a reality: Alvarez was nominated for a Latin Grammy for best new artist. She is 95. …

“Alvarez composed her first song at age 14, then already proficient on piano and guitar. She also loved to sing. When she graduated from high school, Alvarez told her father she wanted nothing more than to become a professional musician. He rejected the idea. …

“ ‘I loved him so much,’ Alvarez said. ‘I liked to be obedient.’

“She put her professional pursuits aside and moved through life, getting married at age 19 and having four children — three boys and a girl.

“Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, upending life as they knew it in their home country. Alvarez and her husband, Orlando — who was a sugar engineer — decided they would flee to the United States. Given his profession, Orlando was initially forced to stay in Cuba. Alvarez took her children — the youngest was 4 and the eldest 15 — to the airport in May 1962, but officials also forbade her from leaving the country, saying she had missing paperwork. Alvarez made the impossible decision to let her children go alone to the United States.

“ ‘It was very hard for me,’ she recalled.

“It took several months before she was granted permission to leave Cuba, and once she arrived in Miami, she wasn’t financially eligible to reclaim her children — who were living at an orphanage in Pueblo, Colo. — through the welfare program they were assigned to.

“Finally, after not seeing her children for nearly two years, she secured a job cleaning a bank in Pueblo and was able to spend time with her kids on weekends. She lived in a small basement apartment.

“Amid her family’s difficult situation, Alvarez strived to fill her children’s lives with happiness, which she did through music. She invited other Cuban children living in the orphanage to join her family, and sang songs to remind them of home. …

“Throughout the many challenges Alvarez faced, she said, she leaned on music to cope with the pain. Over the course of her life, she composed a collection of about 50 songs, reflecting both the deep sadness and joy in her life. … But her music was only enjoyed by her family and friends, as her father had instructed her.

“That changed about eight years ago, when her grandson Carlos José Alvarez decided to record her songs. Carlos, who is a composer, grew up listening to his grandmother sing at family functions. …

“Every time he would visit his grandmother as a child, ‘she would grab a guitar and she would sing,’ said Carlos, 42, who calls Alvarez ‘Nana.’

“As his grandmother was getting older, Carlos wanted to preserve her songs so her future great-grandchildren could marvel at her voice, which he described as ‘angelic and soulful.’ He brought a microphone to her house and asked her to go through her personal trove of tunes. …

“In the process, though, he unexpectedly learned a lot of information about his grandmother’s history — including her undying hope of becoming a singer. …

“ ‘I got so inspired in that moment,’ Carlos said, adding that he decided he would one day bring his grandmother to a recording studio, and produce a proper album of her work. …

“In the years that followed, Carlos was focused on growing his own career. He put his grandmother’s prospective album on the back burner until 2016, when … he arranged to fly his grandmother to Los Angeles, where he lives, to record her songs in a professional studio. …

“In the past year, Alvarez’s career has taken off more than she thought possible. … The ultimate achievement so far has been Alvarez’s Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, which was announced in September.

“ ‘I thought it wasn’t true,’ she said.

“Alvarez is attending the 2022 Latin Grammy Awards on Nov. 17 in Las Vegas with her grandson, and she is scheduled to perform.”

Want to know the rest of the story? She tied for best new artist! See the report. More at the Post, here.

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