How The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation Is Making A Difference
Can you imagine this past summer without a song like "Despacito"?
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's smash crossover Latin hit has become ubiquitous with the pop culture zeitgeist. This contribution to the heritage of Latin music may not have been possible had Fonsi not had the opportunity to attend Florida State University School of Music on a full scholarship, during which time he recorded demo tapes in Miami. The singer/songwriter was signed to Universal Latin Music as a result.
For 22-year-old electric bassist and Dominican student Ernesto Núñez, the chance to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston is a dream come true. Thanks to a scholarship from the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation and the aid of Latin GRAMMY winner Miguel Bosé, Núñez is on a forward path to help carry the torch for Latin music for a new generation.
"I feel blessed and honored to win this scholarship," said Núñez. "Blessed because I believe there is a God who has been with me throughout this process opening doors and putting everything in its place. Honored because I have achieved it through the rhythm that identifies my country, which makes me feel that I carry my flag where I am going."
— Miguel Bosé (@BoseOfficial) June 9, 2017
Providing Latin students the chance to pursue their musical passions at institutes of higher learning not only equips the next generation of musicians with enormous opportunity, it ensures Latin music will remain an indelible part of our culture. The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation believes in this principle strongly, evidenced by the more than $2 million in scholarships it has distributed to Latin students from around the world, including the $200,000 Miguel Bosé Scholarship Núñez received this year.
The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation was launched in 2014 by the Latin Recording Academy, 14 years after the inaugural Latin GRAMMY Awards ushered in renewed recognition for the music of Latin countries worldwide. The Foundation aims to further international consciousness and appreciation for the vibrant contributions of Latin music and its creators through scholarships, fellowships, grants, and educational programs.
The Miguel Bosé Scholarship is the third Prodigy Scholarship presented in partnership with top-tier artists to a budding Latin musician for attendance to Berklee College of Music. In 2015 saxophonist Itzel Salinas-Reyna received the Enrique Iglesias Scholarship to complete her four-year degree.
In 2016 GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner Juan Luis Guerra, himself a Berklee graduate, paid forward his own impressive Latin music legacy by teaming with the Foundation for the Juan Luis Guerra Scholarship, which was awarded to Jesús Molina-Acosta, a Colombian pianist pursuing a music degree at Berklee.
Jesus Molina, ganador de la beca Juan Luis Guerra y Grammy Latino. ¡¡Maravilloso músico colombiano!! pic.twitter.com/u7uNyF2jl1
— Juan Luis Guerra (@JuanLuisGuerra) August 31, 2017
For Guerra, the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation's goal of awarding scholarships to talented young artists is an investment in the future of Latin music.
"In addition to the financial support that the scholarship represents, it's about the opportunity to develop the talent of a Latino student to the fullest," Guerra told GRAMMY magazine. "That will enormously benefit our culture and our music."
This is a sentiment shared by Manolo Díaz, Senior Vice President of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation.
"The level of education of new generations of Latin musicians is positively affecting the quality of concert performance, production and recording," he said. "High-quality education should contribute to the quality of the Latin music evolution that they will lead.
With the RIAA reporting year-over-year increases to the Latin music industry in the U.S. in 2016 and mid-2017, the first time the market has seen growth in a decade, it's clear there is a high demand for great Latin music in the U.S. and abroad.
"Latin music is born every day in 24 different countries of the world, including the USA," said Díaz.
For the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation, their scholarship assistance is crucial to making sure this music gets directly to the ears of eager listeners while at the same time preserving the rich legacy of Latin music globally.
"There are musically prodigious children in these families with enormous artistic potential, but there might not be the financial means to develop that potential to its fullest [considering] Latin America's high level of poverty," said Latin Recording Academy President/CEO Gabriel Abaroa Jr. "Talent is wasted. We want to make it possible for students to say, 'I didn't just have this dream, I made it come true.'"
"The protection of our heritage is key," added Díaz. "The Foundation wants to stimulate the universal knowledge and appreciation of Latin music."
For artists such as Iglesias, Guerra and Bosé, this is a mission worth getting behind.
"I had the privilege of contributing to the creation of this scholarship," said Bosé. "The Ibero-American countries have a very rich musical culture and the amount of talent that is lost due to lack of resources is incalculable. We must support this beautiful cause."