Angela Alvarez Wins Best New Artist Crown at Latin Grammys – Age 95 | the music
Never tell Angela Alvarez it’s too late for dreams to come true – the 95-year-old just took home a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist, becoming the award show’s biggest winner.
The Cuban American musician’s crowning moment came after decades of writing songs but performing them only for friends and family – until, at age 90, he visited the historic Hollywood nightclub Avalon and gave his first concert.
His grandson, Carlos, eventually recorded his song on an album with the help of the actor and fellow Cuban who hosted that concert: Andy Garcia. The record was released last year, setting his nomination at Thursday’s edition of the Latin Grammys and sharing it with Silvana Estrada.
“For those who have yet to make their dreams come true, know that even though life is hard, there is always a way and with faith and love everything can be achieved,” Alvarez said in his acceptance speech.
It’s hard to overstate some of the obstacles he had to overcome to make his mark in the music industry.
Growing up in pre-revolutionary Cuba, his father and grandfather forbade him to pursue his love of music. But he wrote songs in secret, because he was married and had children.
Then the decades-long Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro unfolded, and Alvarez made what he calls the hardest decision of his life: sending his four children to the United States. They went as part of Operation Pedro Pan, in which more than 14,000 children were sent to the United States during the Cuban revolutionary era between 1960 and 1962.
Alvarez eventually joined his children in the United States, delayed by paperwork problems. The Miami Herald reported. The family settled in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana. But life continued to test her faith – she lost her husband and her only daughter to cancer.
Nevertheless, he continued to write and sing his songs, mostly sharing his work only with those very close to him.
That changed when she agreed to take part in a documentary called Miss Angela, which chronicled her upbringing in Cuba and preparations for her first concert at Avalon. The documentary captures the moment its host Garcia – an Academy Award nominee – introduces himself and joke: “I hear you need a bongo player.”
Garcia, whom Alvarez described as her hero in Miss Angela, later offered her a role in the remake of Father of the Bride in which she starred. In the movie, she sings the Cuban musical standard Querem Mucho, which means love me a lot.
Alvarez’s composer and producer grandson, Carlos, gave him the idea to move to Los Angeles and record his self-titled debut album, people.com As reported by music publication Billboard.
“I called him and said, ‘Nana, do you want to do this?’ First he said [in Spanish], ‘I’m not going to Los Angeles! for what?’ And I say, ‘To record your album!’ And he’s like, ‘Okay, I’m there!’
After winning best new artist with Estrada at the 23rd annual Latin Grammys on Thursday, Alvarez encouraged all dreamers to keep their wildest hopes alive as he jumped to a standing ovation at the Mandalay Bay Michelob Arena in Las Vegas.
“There are people who give up, but I didn’t give up – I always fought,” he said during his speech, which he dedicated to Cuba, according to Los Angeles Times. “I promise you – it’s never too late.”
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