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The best new artist of 2022 is a Cuban-American grandmother who at age 95 is fulfilling her dream of being a professional musician.
Angela Alvarez tied with Silvana Estrada for Best New Artist at the Latin Grammys on November 17, winning her first Grammy.
In her speech, she thanked her daughter and grandson, who were the first to record her music.
“My grandson was the one who helped me get to where I am now,” she said in her speech. “I want to dedicate this award to God and to my country, Cuba, (which) I will never forget.”
Angela Alvarez has loved music her whole life, learning to play the guitar and piano as a young girl in Cuba and writing songs from the age of 14. But she never pursued her dream of singing and writing professionally, she told TODAY in June 2021, because her traditional father forbade it.
Angela’s story began in Cuba, where she learned to play the guitar and began writing songs as a young teenager. Eventually she got married and started a family. After the Cuban Revolution, she made the painful decision in 1962 to send her four children to the United States as part of a mass exodus of 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children fleeing communist oppression.
After several long years of separation, she made her way to the United States and was reunited with her children. Her family eventually settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In the following years, she always played music for her children and then, when the time came, for her grandchildren. This includes her grandson the composer Carlos José Alvarez.
“She has been singing to us since childhood,” recalled Carlos, now 42. “Every chance she got to pick up her guitar, she sang for us.
“I called her one day and said ‘I want you to sing me the songs you’re going to write,'” Carlos said. “She would leave the room with these notebooks that were like 40-plus songs, and the songs were like a diary of her life.
Over the decades, from her youth in Cuba to the present, her songs have followed her entire life story. At that moment, Carlos, who is a composer, decided that one day he would record them.
Years passed and he focused on his own work, putting his grandmother on the back burner until 2016 when a friend asked him if he was “waiting for her to die?”
The question “knocked me down,” Carlos told the Washington Post. Soon after, he flew with his grandmother to Los Angeles, where she lives, and began the process of recording and producing her debut album.
After completing the passion project, Carlos and the musicians he worked with agreed that Angela’s story should be a documentary. He approached actor Andy Garcia, who agreed.
“When I heard her music, I was so moved that he was moved by her story,” Garcia told TODAY. “And it was.
Garcia executive produced and narrated the feature documentary film “Miss Angela” which was released in 2021.
Then, in September, she was nominated for a Latin Grammy – Best New Artist at 95. She took home hardware from the ceremony in Las Vegas on November 17 – finally fulfilling the dreams her father couldn’t. imagined all those years ago.
She told TODAY what she thought her father and late husband would think of her newfound music career.
“If they were here, I know they would be proud.
After winning Best New Artist, she dedicated her award to anyone with a dream, saying it’s “never too late” to achieve it.
This article first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: