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Music

Rosalía is the first Grammy best new artist nominee recognized for music in Spanish

Rosalia performs at the Latin Grammys
Rosalía performs at the 2019 Latin Grammy Awards earlier this month.
(Getty Images)

Spain’s Rosalía is making more Grammy history.

The flamenco-inspired hip-hop artist scored two 2020 Grammy nominations Wednesday morning — one for best new artist and the other in the Latin rock, urban or alternative album category for “El Mal Querer.” This makes Rosalía the first best new artist nominee recognized for music recorded entirely in Spanish.

Other Spanish-speaking artists have been nominated in the category over the years (including Vikki Carr in 1963), and Puerto Rican singer and guitarist José Feliciano won best new artist in 1969, bolstered by his hit version of the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” Previous nominees were not, however, honored for their work recorded exclusively in Spanish.

Released last year, Rosalía’s “El Mal Querer,” a concept album about a toxic relationship, has been praised for its feminist themes as well as its fusion of flamenco with contemporary styles.

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Just last week it was crowned album of the year at the Latin Grammys, making the singer-songwriter the first woman to win in the category as a solo act since Shakira first did in 2006. Rosalía also nabbed the trophies for contemporary pop album and urban song.

“When I made [‘El Mal Querer’] I made it from the heart,” Rosalía said at the Thursday awards show. “I didn’t think about what would happen later. I can’t control anything that happens after the creative process because after that it’s not yours anymore, it’s everyone else’s.”

The triumph was especially notable in a year when the Latin Grammys nixed the flamenco category because of the lack of flamenco album submissions.

Rosalía’s ascent has garnered some backlash from some critics who have accused her of cultural appropriation, as well as from those who question whether Spanish artists should be recognized in Latin music categories. Others have pointed out that she studied flamenco formally for years before making her 2017 debut and that she has since collaborated with some of reggaeton’s biggest stars such as J. Balvin and Ozuna.


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