Watch 95-year-old Angela Álvarez accept her Latin Grammy for new artist
The Cuba-born Álvarez, who is 95, tied with Mexican indie singer Silvana Estrada, 25, and had already set a record going into the ceremony as the oldest musician to ever be nominated in the category.
Both women took the stage Thursday to accept the award at the Mandalay Bay Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. Estrada, who hugged and helped Álvarez onstage, gave her rushed acceptance speech first then yielded the microphone to Álvarez, who was joined onstage by her grandson and producer Carlos José Alvarez.
“My grandson was the one who helped me get to where I am now. I want to dedicate this award to God and my homeland Cuba, which I will never forget,” she said, adding, “I felt very, very proud to be able to tell my story, to touch people who have probably gone through the same or more than what I have gone through. There are people who give up, but I did not give up. I always fought.
“To those who have not fulfilled their dream, although life is difficult, there is always a way out, and with faith and love you can achieve it. I promise you, it’s never too late,” she concluded, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.
Álvarez learned to play piano as a young girl, then picked up guitar from nuns at boarding school in Cuba. She started writing songs when she was 14 but never pursued a professional music career because her father forbade it. So she performed for her family instead.
The Spanish singer became the first woman to twice win the album of the year award, while Jorge Drexler and C. Tangana won for song and record of the year.
After she immigrated to the United States in 1962 following the Cuban Revolution, Álvarez worked as a cleaner for decades and continued to play the boleros. She got married and her husband, who she later lost to cancer, encouraged her to keep singing and writing. Now, in addition to her professional career, she has four children, nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and a golden gramophone.
“Ángela Álvarez,” her debut album, consists of songs composed since her teens and that she longed to perform in public, she previously told the Associated Press. Her grandson Carlos, a musician who studied classical and Cuban percussion and works composing songs for audiovisual media in California, recorded her collection of songs for an album as a way to preserve her music and as a fun project for their family to enjoy. But when they realized what they had, they released it to the public.
“What I could say about this experience is inexplicable, because what I feel is something so wonderful and beautiful that I have no words to express it,” said the artist in the event’s press room. “I am very proud of what has happened to me in life.”
Her life and career is chronicled in the 2021 documentary “Miss Angela: Dreams Do Come True,” and the musician also played Tía Pili and sings in the 2022 Father of the Bride” remake starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan.
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