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Behind The Board: Natalia Ramirez Talks Opportunity, Vision And Mentorship

Natalia Ramirez

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Behind The Board: Natalia Ramirez Talks Opportunity, Vision And Mentorship

The audio engineer and vocal tuning specialist discusses her path to the studio, working with GRAMMY-winning producer Julio Reyes Copello and more

GRAMMYs/Apr 13, 2019 - 04:24 am

Natalia Ramirez has worked on records by some of the biggest names in Latin music including Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Alejandro Sanz and more, but, as someone who began as an engineering student and was eventually taken under the wing of GRAMMY-winning producer Julio Reyes Copello, she's never lost sight of how fortunate she's been to have the chance to work with artists at that level.

"When I was a student I never thought I would end up here in Miami in this recording studio with such a mentor, working with these artists," Ramirez says in the latest installment of the Recording Academy's Behind The Board. "Sometimes I think that it is super important to never take for granted all of those things and never lose sight of the big picture."

The Colombian native, who has also worked with Natasha Bedingfield, grew up around music. The daughter of a musician and younger sister to an audio engineer, she says she can't think of herself without thinking of music and knew she wanted to do audio engineering after working on an intensive project with GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Kany Garcia as a student. As a vocal tuning specialist, she uses her musicianship and engineering skills to keep the vocal tracks she works with feeling organic.

"The challenge is always like what can I touch that is not gonna make it sound artificial or that is not gonna make it go away from the genre because you always want to respect what that particular [genre] is," she says.

To learn more about Ramirez's career and techniques, watch the video above.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Behind The Board: How Gina Chavez's Process Allows Her To "Sink Into Creativity"
Gina Chavez

Photo: Courtesy of Gina Chavez

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Behind The Board: How Gina Chavez's Process Allows Her To "Sink Into Creativity"

For independent Latin folk artist Gina Chavez, greatness is defined by fully expressing yourself creatively — and as she reveals, that mentality has been the key to her success.

GRAMMYs/Jun 14, 2023 - 07:02 pm

The peak of Latin folk singer Gina Chavez's creativity traces back to the beginning of her career — before there was any pressure from big-time executives.

"The 'ignorance is bliss' kind of vibe allowed me to do what I felt called to do," Chavez reveals in this episode of Behind the Board. "At this point in my career, I'm trying to get back to that space. I realize what a blessing that was to be in a moment where I was just like, 'Let's do this. Who cares?'" 

These days, Chavez's creative process begins with the rhythm or a "vibe," which she explains could be a chord progression or beat. Through this method, she created her 2020 effort, La Que Manda, which checked off a few of Chavez's goals: release a full-length project in Spanish, and qualify for the GRAMMYs and Latin GRAMMYs — all while building a community with her music.

Chavez received a Best Pop/Rock Album nomination at the 2020 Latin GRAMMYs, where she reconnected with peers she's met throughout her career — with whom she remains in touch with today. "We're constantly reaching out about new music," she says. "It's a beautiful community, which to me is what the Recording Academy is all about."

Over the years, Chavez has realized that having the courage to put music out in the world is the most beautiful part, regardless of the success. "If you're a creator and put yourself out there, that's great. That's the kind of greatness we need," she proclaims. "You never know who you're going to connect with. We all need someone to shine, so we can know that we, too, are bright."

Press play on the video above to learn more about Gina Chavez's relationship with music, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.

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Behind The Board: How Avicii Inspired CHYL To Leave Finance For A Full-Time Career In Music
CHYL in her studio.

Photo: Courtesy of CHYL

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Behind The Board: How Avicii Inspired CHYL To Leave Finance For A Full-Time Career In Music

After realizing her career in finance wasn't fulfilling, CHYL decided to take up music production casually — until Avicii's unexpected passing taught her one important lesson: life is too short not to pursue your passion.

GRAMMYs/May 19, 2023 - 06:30 pm

When Chinese-Canadian music producer CHYL heard EDM for the first time after coming to North America, "a fire ignited" in her body.

Despite realizing her passion, CHYL opted for a career on Wall Street after graduating from Columbia University. "I hated it so much," she says with a hearty laugh. "In my second year of finance, I figured I really should start picking up some hobbies outside of finance."

From there, CHYL began taking DJ lessons casually and grew a deep appreciation for production. Though it wasn't until her idol, Avicii, passed away that she realized it was time to pursue music full-time. 

"He was who I listened to a lot back in the day," she explains in this episode of Behind The Board. "Life is short. You have to pursue what you love to do. If you don't, who knows what's going to happen? You have to go for your passion."

After five years of making music, CHYL has perfected her process. First, she finds a vocal slice for the foundation of her music. Then, she works on finding emotion and energy. And most importantly, she doesn't overthink any of it.

"Sometimes it's the most simple and catchy thing that goes viral. It's a constant battle that makes something similar and catchy or something that shows off all your production skills in one song. It's a balance," she adds. 

Above all, she always strives to make songs that stick. "A great song is memorable," she says. "Some of the songs that go viral on TikTok may or may not be great songs, but they're very memorable and catchy."

Press play on the video above to learn more about CHYL's musical journey, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind The Board.

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Behind The Board: How A Guitar Lesson Turned GALE's Musical Dreams Into A Professional Career
GALE

Photo: Courtesy of GALE

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Behind The Board: How A Guitar Lesson Turned GALE's Musical Dreams Into A Professional Career

Latin pop singer GALE has always been naturally drawn to music. But after a fateful guitar lesson and a songwriting workshop, she turned her passion into a profession.

GRAMMYs/May 12, 2023 - 07:00 pm

"I've always been connected and surrounded by music. I basically grew up in a music house," she explains in this episode of Behind the Board. But when a school friend taught her how to play guitar, she found her "superpower" in writing songs.

At 16, her stepfather took her to a songwriting workshop. Though she admits she was "freaking out" at the time, the class and her stepfather's encouragement helped her realize that music was her true passion — and she had no choice but to take it seriously.  

Now, GALE has mastered her songwriting style. "When I'm writing for myself, it usually comes from a very vulnerable or scary place. It's like I'm opening a portal to my feelings," she detailed. It's an approach she also used in her latest single, "La Mitad," a song about understanding a relationship has reached an end.

"The process changes every time, but I try to be honest with myself and not hold back from saying things how I want to say them because it's scary," GALE reveals. "It's like, 'Maybe I shouldn't say that.' When I think about that, it's like, 'Maybe I should say that because I'm thinking I shouldn't say that.'"

For GALE, the key to songwriting is being honest, because a great record is about connecting with listeners and making them feel something — and that's exactly the heart of her new album, Lo Que No Te Dije.

Press play on the video to hear more about GALE's creative process, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.

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