Photo: Harmony Gerber/Getty Images
The city's first permanent Latin music gallery brought together Latin music's biggest stars, industry professionals, political figures and community members for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration of the historic event.
In collaboration with the GRAMMY Museum, the Latin Recording Academy unveiled the Latin GRAMMY: 20 Years Of Excellence exhibit, showcasing pieces from Latin GRAMMY show performances and moments, on the museum's third floor. These include an outfit the late iconic Mexican singer/songwriter Juan Gabriel wore during a performance at the 10th Latin GRAMMYs and an outfit worn by "Despacito" singer Luis Fonsi during his performance at the 18th Latin GRAMMYs.
The Latin Academy is donating more than half a million dollars to expand the museum's Latin-inspired exhibits, including the permanent gallery and the Latin GRAMMY show exhibit. "This is a momentous occasion for the GRAMMY Museum and for Los Angeles," said ribbon-cutting ceremony host, journalist Giselle Fernandez, a former Latin Recording Academy board member.
GRAMMY Museum President Michael Sticka said the museum was proud to be the home of the first permanent Latin music gallery in the city. "We're very excited to play host to that," he said in his remarks.
In a statement prior to the opening, Sticka touched on how the exhibit would expand the ethos of the GRAMMY Museum. "Latin GRAMMY, 20 Years Of Excellence and our newly renovated third floor will greatly amplify the Museum's mission to educate, inspire, and share the significance of all forms of music," he said.
It was not forgotten that the gallery opened in one of the country's cities most-inspired by Latin culture and populated by Latinos. According to 2011 Pew Research Center statistics, Hispanics made up 4.9 million of the Los Angeles County population or 9 percent of the country's Hispanic population.
Hilda Solis, First District Los Angeles County Supervisor and former President Barack Obama cabinet member, reminded the crowd of the significance of the gallery's location. "[This is a] long-time coming for us," she said. "We know the musica is our life, it's our culture, it's our livelihood and it brings us so many good things when things are sour and bad."
The expansion is something Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa had been dreaming of for years. "This is a day of thank yous," he said. "I want to thank Michael, the board of trustees of the GRAMMY Museum and all the employees and staffers of the GRAMMY Museum because they have opened their hearts and their doors to us since the beginning."
The grand event came just a few days after the Latin Recording Academy celebrated its 20th Latin GRAMMY celebration at the MGM in Las Vegas and was a celebration continuing its 20th anniversary celebrations.
Recent Latin GRAMMY Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album winner Christian Nodal and GRAMMY-nominated singer Angela Aguilar, were two stars invited to represent the next generation of Latin music and help cut the ribbon.
The Office of L.A. City Council President Herb Abaroa also presented a certificate declaring Nov. 18 as the official Latin GRAMMY day. The night included performances from GRAMMY- and Latin GRAMMY-nominated Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Raquel Sofia and Latin GRAMMY winners Flor de Toloache and gave the public their first look at the exciting new exhibit and gallery.
The Latin GRAMMY: 20 Years Of Excellence exhibit will be open Nov. 20 until spring 2020; visit the GRAMMY Museum's website to get tickets.
Photo: Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com
In 2012, Los Angeles' own Ozomatli recorded their very first kid's album, Ozomatli Presents OzoKidz.
Previously, the two-time GRAMMY-winning band had been known for meshing cumbia, salsa, hip-hop, funk and more in an upbeat, danceable fusion unique to growing up Latinx in L.A. Songs like "Cumbia del Muerto," or "Cumbia Of The Dead," off their 1998 self-titled album, was easily the soundtrack of Latin bi-cultural America during that time. Now, the song is a cumbia-American classic, continuing to bring Ozomatli's legacy to the next generation of Latinx in the U.S.
But as time went by and the band began to notice that their fans were starting to have kids, they saw an opportunity to connect with an even tinier generation.
"I think one of the great things about it for us is that we were able to really look at songwriting as a way to really get into characters," vocalist and guitarist Raul Pacheco tells the Recording Academy. "We just sat around and talked about things we went through as a kid or things you were into and just kind of associated certain styles of music with those subjects."
The 2010s album, which would become a GRAMMY-winning album, kept the band's sonic essence but also contained songs meant to teach kids how not be afraid of water, skateboarding and germs. Ultimately, the album taught the band something, too.
"It actually helped our songwriting, [to] kind of not have to be stuck to what it meant to be an adult," Pacheco said.
Now, Ozomatli are bringing their program—inspired by the OzoKidz album experience—to the Recording Academy's GRAMMY Museum on Nov. 18, the same day the Latin Music Gallery at the museum in Los Angeles is set to launch. Pacheco says the program will only continue to build the relationship Ozomatli has with the museum, the GRAMMYs and the Recording Academy.
The Recording Academy spoke with Pacheco more about how the album helped the band evolve, their workshop at the Latin Gallery unveiling, being a part of the GRAMMY Museum history, music education and more.
You are going to be a part of a kids workshop during the GRAMMY Museum Latin gallery opening. But this isn't your first rodeo with kids. Why connect with kids via an album?
We all grew up in public school systems where we learned and were introduced to music. I think that experience for us as young people is super impressionable, something we all talk about a lot, the importance of that experience for us. It really kind of makes playing music not some unattainable thing that you only see someone do in pictures or on TV or whatever. It's always been something very important to us.
I think we've always had a connection. As we've gotten older and have our own children, we got to a point where a lot of our fans were having kids ... So the idea came up to make a kid's record and we went for it. I think one of the great things about it for us is that we were able to really look at songwriting as a way to really get into characters. It actually helped our songwriting, [to] kind of not have to be stuck to what it meant to be an adult. We could just... create these different kinds of impressions that we were trying to focus on what it meant to be a kid. It was really cool to all these different kinds of subjects you go to just in a natural way as a child. I think we tried to make a record and songs that the parents wouldn't get sick of listening to a thousand times.
Was it only the themes you felt changed?
Yeah, because on that record there's a song about going to the movies, there's a song about germs that's just kind of funny. It's a little scary and funny. There's a song about being afraid to go into the water, and don't be afraid of it, just jump in. There's a song about skateboarding. So there's all these different subjects. We just sat around and talked about things we went through as a kid or things you were into and just kind of associated certain styles of music with those subjects.
What kind of experience with music did you have at school?
My first real experience with music was in the school choir and I had a very, very important teacher, Mrs. Hubbard. She was one of those teachers that was so influential in terms of really introducing children to music and she was so good at it. You don't really realize that until you're old and you can kind of go like, "Wow, this lady used to wrangle all of these kids and get them to do something some of them didn't even think they could do." There's a kind of a profound thing in that, that a lot of teachers probably experience in terms of just introducing kids to concepts or to the experiences to help them do the work that it takes to have an outcome. I think for me it was also understanding, without knowing it at the time, it takes work to do what you want to do.
You have to show up, you have to practice, you have to rehearse, you got to prep and then you got to perform. And the better you get at all that it really allows you to have better presentation. Those concepts, which you're not really sure that you're not even really aware that you're learning that, it's kind of really important ... I went on to be in a boys' choir because of her. Then I just got into rock guitar as a teenager and that kind of led to other stuff. But that first experience from her was super important.
Why work with the museum on this workshop now?
We've had a long relationship with the GRAMMY Museum. [We] performed there many times. We did a kids' presentation there ourselves. We got to perform with Booker T. there. I've seen numerous presentations there. So we have a relationship with the GRAMMYs. Doing MusiCares, which we performed at, to Harold Owens who runs MusiCares, to people who work at the GRAMMY Museum. We've won GRAMMYs. I think that all kind of makes us part of that family so we know that there's certain things that they can ask us that we're always willing to do, if possible. This is one of those things.
What can you tell us about the event on Monday?
I know that it's an important presentation. There's going to be important items there with the idea of Latino music and we're going to grab the family. We're a part of that history. We have some stuff there that they asked us to bring. I have a Tres guitar, which is a Cuban guitar, that's going to be there. That was one I played at one of the Latin GRAMMYs. They asked for a bunch of stuff from some performances that we had. For us, it's just important to be a part of that whole moment and that presentation and we're honored that they asked us. Doing what we do is just, [it's] not really work. We're going to have to show up and do what we do.
For people not aware of what Latin music is today, and specifically in Los Angeles, what is the significance of the Latin gallery opening up at the museum and specifically in L.A.?
I think that there's always been a correct criticism in terms of the separation of those worlds, [between L.A. and Latinos]. To me, to this day, it's a little hard to understand the strict separation that we have in our daily lives even though that there's all kinds of people that live in Los Angeles. When it comes to Latino L.A. and non-Latino L.A., I know there's plenty of integration in our game, but somehow in our hearts and our heads, it still seems different. I'm hoping that this is a continuation of a progress into recognizing some very obvious things about the city of Los Angeles, its own history, its own adversity, and continue to create that kind of awareness in all institutions, not just music.
I get that this is important to kind of continue that evolution of thinking, of how we look at the city. This particular showcase is going to be about music, popular music. And because it's in Los Angeles, directly is how it affects L.A. There's a lot more integration that ... [brings into] recognition of basic things that we all share and ultimately don't need to be kind of segregated in that way. I'm really very happy to be a part of the progress of that.
Photo: Gem Harris
Scottish singer/songwriter, producer and composer Anna Meredith has a way of making music that may seem very calculated.
"I draw the shapes that represent the kind of graphic, also the energy of the track. And I'll do that for anything. Whether it's an orchestral piece or a piece for kids or a piece for anything," she says on the phone from Europe. "It's something that I do that helps me plan out the music because the pacing of musical ideas is really important to me."
Fusing classical music with electronic beats and genres like pop, Anna Meredith's music is an emotive journey into the experimental—some of it sounds like it could be the soundtrack of a videogame while other pieces can feel like the music you'd dance to at a club or fall asleep to. In addition to releasing three LPs and two EPs, Meredith has also composed the scores 2018 indie comedy-drama Eighth Grade and this year's Paul Rudd Netflix vehicle, Living With Yourself.
As thoughtful as she can be about music creation, FIBS, her sophomore album out now, has her standing her ground with what feels right to her. "I know more about what I think works. I think there's more risks. Which doesn't necessarily mean more complexity," she says. "It actually sometimes means being braver with simplicity ... I set out to write something that I thought would feel open and inclusive and joyful."
The Recording Academy recently chatted with the singer/songwriter to talk FIBS, being under the spotlight in her video for "Inhale Exhale," the importance of positivity and more.
Rising in the international music world over the last few years, with the release of his 2018 debut MANTRA and 2019's FANTASIA, Sebastian Yatra has shown his vocal versatility, genre rule-breaking mentality and love for collaborations.
In his joint efforts with heavy hitters like Wisin, Carlos Vives and Maná, with whom he sings "No Ha Parado De LLover" (a remake of the iconic Mexican rock group's 1995 song), Yatra has embraced reggaeton, pop and rock ballads, and those are only a few of the genres that make up the Colombian-born, Miami-raised singer/songwriter's song collection. It's clear that Yatra isn't subscribing to one genre or sound on his way to the top—he already boasts Latin GRAMMY nominations (he was up for Best New Artist in 2018) and top spots on the Billboard 200 and Top Latin Albums charts.
"I think genres are becoming less existent," he recently told the Recording Academy, just days ahead of the 2019 Latin GRAMMYs. "You see artists that are making all kinds of music. What we are making is good music, good songs."
It may be Yatra's gut feeling about good music that has earned him nominations in the major categories at the upcoming Latin GRAMMYs, airing on Univision Nov.14. The "Un Año" singer, who is also set to perform at the show and again at the Person Of The Year ceremony (honoring fellow Colombian singer Juanes), is up for Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year. He's also up for Best Pop Album.
The nomimations are something he still can't believe: "You tell me [I'm nominated], and it seems like a lie," he says humbly.
Although still early in his career, ultimately Yatra wants to follow in the footsteps of some of Latin America's most romantic balladeers, including Sin Bandera and Camila, and chose his Latin GRAMMY-nominated album FANTASIA, filled with ballads about love, to showcase that.
The Recording Academy caught up with Yatra before the Latin GRAMMYs to talk more about his nominated album, his latest single with Maná, his nominations and performances, his sustainability docuseries El Poder De Los Centennials and more.
You covered "No Ha Parado De Llover" at Person of the Year a year ago. How was it for you to give new life to this song now with Maná?
It is the greatest honor for me to be next to my favorite band, which I think is the greatest Latin band in history. It is also a great learning experience for me because beyond being great musicians, they are even greater humans. For me, there are two iconic bands who are legends for Latinos: Maná and Soda Stereo.
Being able to live this experience with Maná is something that if you told me [would happen] five years ago, a year ago, I wouldn't believe it. Last year I had the opportunity to sing "No Ha Parado De Llover" in front of them at Person of the Year [and] you can't imagine how nervous and excited I was. We decided to put our touch on the song so that they would listen to something different from what they had already heard and what they had sung all their lives. Keeping the essence of the song, but putting a very personal touch of mine. I would never have imagined that they would like it so much, they would want to record it together. That is just what we did. The song is great, many people like it. I'm going to start playing it during my shows, of course. I love [the band] a lot and [they] are an example for me to follow in every way. I always keep in touch with Fher [Olvera] about life, we talk about God, talk about spirituality, talk about the way he sees things, which is very special.
As a singer-songwriter, what do you like about this song in particular?
There are many phrases in the song that are special. I like that it is a song that allows any performer to enjoy it because it has very singable melodies. It is one of those songs that is also objectively very good, but you also listen to it with all your heart. Because I grew up listening to this song, you put it on and I'm filled with beautiful nostalgia, it also reminds me of moments, it reminds me of people.
You have several great musical collaborations. What do you like about singing with other artists?
I like that you have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, perhaps. When you sing alone, no matter how much you are inventing new things or experimenting, it's just your mind and the people with whom you're writing with, but when there is another voice, there is another way of interpreting, other sounds, and you mix that, something different always comes out, something that people have not heard before. [Something] innovative.
You're an artist who moves fluidly through genre and singing style. In your opinion, does genre still exist?
I think genres are becoming less existent. You see artists that are making all kinds of music. What we are making is good music, good songs. Be a ballad, be salsa, be reggaeton, be an opera, whatever it is. It is about understanding where one is doing well and where one can transmit and where one's essence is and where one feels comfortable and where perhaps not. I have explored many genres. There are some that have been better than others, but I always try to put my essence on the track, on the arrangement we are making.
This year, you're nominated for Latin GRAMMY Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Pop Album Of The Year. How are you feeling?
With everything happening in politics and with the environment, do you think that your songs can help people feel a little better?
I think so, and I think we are doing it. We are in a complicated moment for the whole world. In fact, I have just made a docuseries called El Poder De Los Centennials. I believe that as an artist one also has the responsibility and opportunity to reach people, not only through songs, but also through our words, day-to-day actions and the other things that one can do. This docuseries creates awareness for young people, for adults, and for all of us so we can work as a team to make this world more sustainable. That [we] can't only be aware that the world is going through a bad time, but that every day we do something as individuals to improve or not continue to be detrimental. It talks a lot about sustainability, I invite you to see it. It's something very nice that I did with [Colombian financial institution] Bancolombia.
Going back to the Latin GRAMMYs, what can you tell us about your performance?
This interview has been translated to English