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5 LGBTQ+ Latinx Artists You Need To Know

L to R: Jonah Xiao, Niña Dioz, Mabiland, Georgel, Villano Antillano

Illustration by Lauryn Alvarez

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5 LGBTQ+ Latinx Artists You Need To Know

Ricky Martin, Kany García and Joy from Jessie & Joy aren't the only LGBTQ+ artists bringing visibility to the community, here are five more artists on the rise you should know about

GRAMMYs/Jun 2, 2021 - 04:24 am

Artists in the LGBTQ+ community aren’t just continuing to break ground in pop music’s heavily heteronormative landscape, they are making moves towards the forefront. A turning point in the past decade was Lady Gaga, who is openly bisexual, taking her queer anthem "Born This Way" to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 2011. Lil Nas X is the latest artist to bring queerness to the masses through his performance on Saturday Night Live last month. The openly gay singer and rapper brought the unapologetically queer music video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" to life onstage at Studio 8H with a stripper pole and a team of all-male dancers. Artists like Lil Nas X are helping queer representation reverberate through the music industry and it's something we're seeing within the Latin music world, too.  

More Latin artists in the LGBTQ+ community are embracing the ways their identities intersect with their culture, despite the machismo embedded in its roots. A major cultural touchstone for the community was when Ricky Martin, a massive global pop star who began his career singing in Spanish with Menudo as a child, came out as a gay man in 2010. The GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner has continued to crank out hits, including the Billboard Latin Top 5 smash "Vente Pa’ Ca" with Maluma, after that personal revelation, showing that Latinx communities may be becoming more open to the LGBTQ+ community. While more space is being created for LGBTQ+ folks within Latinx communities, there's still a ways to go for the culture and Latin music industry as a whole—more needs to be done to dismantle the machismo that has historically put down women and queer people and continues to inhabit the industry. Since Ricky Martin’s coming out, many more artists like Puerto Rico's Kany García, Jesse y Joy's Joy Huerta and Spanish pop star Pablo Alborán, have become public about their sexualities, and there seems to be much hope for a more inclusive future in the industry.

Case in point: it was incredible to see the big three categories, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year, at last November's Latin GRAMMY Awards filled with entries from Martin, Huerta, García, and Alborán. The LGBTQ+ Latinx representation was strong and we're continuing to see more of it this year with younger artists like Demi Lovato, who intersects both the pop and Latin music worlds and recently came out as non-binary. In honor of Pride month, here are five more Latin music artists in the LGBTQ+ community to look out for.

Mabiland

Mabely Largacha, who professionally goes by Mabiland, is an emerging singer/songwriter and rapper from Colombia. She hails from Quibdó, the capital of Chocó region that has a predominantly Afro-Colombian population. Her breakthrough came in 2018 with the release of her debut album 1995 in which the lead single, "Cuánto Más," blends hip-hop, R&B and reggae, and tells the story of an intense romance that leads to heartbreak. There's no limit to the music that Mabiland makes as she gives reggaeton a soul music twist with the help of Colombian acts like Crudo Means Raw, Piso 21, and CIAN. In the highly male-dominated Latin hip-hop genre, Mabiland is representing intersecting identities in the industry as a Black, queer woman. And as a star in the MTV Latin America series Latin Flow, this month she will bring that intersectionality to the world.

Villano Antillano

In Puerto Rico's Latin trap scene, Villano Antillano is an emerging queer voice. The rapper from Bayamón identifies as non-binary, meaning that they don't subscribe to the gender binary of male or female. In the music video for "Pájara," Antillano can be seen presenting both masculine and feminine gender expressions and they look fierce doing it. In the queer trap anthem, Antillano reclaims derogatory Spanish terms like "Pájara" which are used to put down the LGBTQ+ community, turning those words into an empowering moment in rap. Making music in a genre that has a history of machismo, Antillano's breakthrough came in 2018 when they released the response song "Pato Hasta La Muerte" to a rapper that used a queer slur in their diss track. Expect Antillano to bring more color to Puerto Rican rap with their next single "Muñeca" that's due out later this month.

Niña Dioz

With artists like Gera MX and Alemán, Mexican rap is making more noise around the world this year. Niña Dioz is a queer pioneer in Mexican rap who hails from Monterrey. Her career spans over a decade since making her live debut at South by Southwest in 2009. Dioz expanded her reach in 2018 when she teamed up with Nacional Records for her breakthrough album Reyna. In honor of Women's History Month in March, she released her latest LP Amor, Locura y Otros Vicios. With hip-hop's history of excluding women and queer people, Dioz more than makes up for that. With Mexican pride, she teamed up with Mexican rapper Hispana in "Mezcal" that gave the rap a ranchera music twist. In the music video for "Último Perreo," Dioz spotlights people in the LGBTQ+ community who are living their best lives in the club.

Georgel

Along with Mabiland, Georgel is another queer artist who is pioneering the Latin R&B movement. The two collaborated on his song "Demasiado Bueno 2.0" for this year's Claro EP. He dropped his debut EP on Valentine's Day after a year of releasing R&B bops en español like the sensual "Adrenalina" with Colombian rapper Nanpa Básico and the serene "Casa" with indie artist Katzù Oso. In 2019, Georgel teamed up with Mexican act Raymix and Colombian singer Esteman and became a part of a queer summit of Latin artists. The trio of openly gay artists covered Mexican flamboyant icon Juan Gabriel’s classic track "El Noa Noa" with the late Celso Piña and the Mexican Institute Of Sound. Georgel recently teased his next EP Oscuro with his recent single "Desilusionándome" featuring Immasoul and Ferraz.

Jonah Xiao

Jonah Xiao is one of the newest artists in the LGBTQ+ community who is making a splash in Latin music. The singer/songwriter hails from Chile and on his father's side and also represents the Chinese community that's prominent in the northern part of the country. In his debut single "Inhala Inhala," Xiao blended '80s-inspired synth-pop with elements of Latin trap. In a major moment for queer representation in Latin pop, Xiao teams up with fellow queer Chilean singer Dani Ride for his latest single "California Santiago." The dreamy duet is accompanied with a music video that features Xiao and Ride sharing romantic moments along the coast of Chile’s capital. There’s no doubt sky's the limit for this recent Warner Music Chile signee.

Telling Our Stories: Mxmtoon, Tyler Shaw & Taku Hirano Talk Experiences In Music Industry

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards