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Black Sounds Beautiful: How Celia Cruz's Talent, Drive & Personality Crowned Her The "Queen of Salsa"
The latest edition of Black Sounds Beautiful doubles as a lesson in royal history—as it explores the career of Celia Cruz, the "Queen Of Salsa"
When the term music royalty is thrown around, most people think of the King of Rock and Roll (Elvis Presley), the King of Pop (Michael Jackson) or Queen Bey (Beyoncé). Still, there's a seat at the royal table labeled "Queen of Salsa", and it's reserved for the one and only Celia Cruz.
With a career spanning over half a century, Cruz was known for her electrifying personality and unrivaled work ethic, releasing 23 certified Gold albums overall. That special blend of personality and production only multiplied when placed inside a genre as appropriate as salsa.
Watch the latest episode of Black Sounds Beautiful below to learn how the Queen of Salsa claimed her throne.
Her hard work didn't go unnoticed, as she earned 14 GRAMMY nominations, three GRAMMY wins and four Latin GRAMMY wins.
Check down below to learn about even more incredible stories of Black artistry from GRAMMY.com's Black Sounds Beautiful series.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
10 Facts About Latin Music At The GRAMMYs: History-Making Wins, New Categories & More
For decades, Latin music has been an indispensable part of the GRAMMYs landscape. Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations, here are some milestones in Latin music at Music’s Biggest Night.
The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are right around the corner — and as always, inspired Latin musical offerings will lie within the heart of the list.
While the Recording Academy’s sister academy, the Latin Recording Academy, naturally honors this world most comprehensively, it plays a crucial role in the GRAMMYs landscape just as in that of the Latin GRAMMYs — and there’s been crossover time and time again!
On Nov. 10, the world will behold nominations in all categories — including several within the Latin, Global, African, Reggae & New Age, Ambient, or Chant field. Within the world of Latin music, the awards are: Best Latin Pop Album, Best Música Urbana Album, Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album, Best Música Mexicana Album (Including Tejano), and Best Tropical Latin Album. The Recording Academy also offers a GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz album, though that award is a part of a different field.
Like the Recording Academy and GRAMMYs themselves, these categories have evolved over the years. Along the way, various Latin music luminaries have forged milestones in Academy history.
Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations, here are some key facts to know about Latin music’s history at the GRAMMYs.
The First Award For Latin Music At The GRAMMYs Was Given In 1975
The first winner for Best Latin Recording was pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri, for 1974’s The Sun of Latin Music. Now an eight-time GRAMMY winner, Palmieri took home the golden gramophone in this category at both the 1976 GRAMMYs and the following year for Unfinished Masterpiece.
At the 1980 GRAMMYs, the first group winner was the thrice nominated Afro-Cuban jazz band Irakere, for their 1978 self-titled debut.
Percussionist Mongo Santamaria holds the record for the most nominations within the Best Latin Recording category.
The Sound Of Latin Pop — And The Title Of The Award — Has Shifted Over 40 Years
Back in 1983, this category was called Best Latin Pop Performance. The first winner was José Feliciano, who took home the golden gramophone for his album Me Enamoré at the 26th GRAMMY Awards.
Best Latin Pop Performance eventually pivoted to Best Latin Pop Album and Best Latin Pop or Urban Album, then back to Best Latin Pop Album — just another example of how the Academy continually strives for precision and inclusion in its categories.
As for most wins, it’s a tie between Feliciano and Alejandro Sanz, at four. Feliciano also holds the distinction of having two consecutive wins, at the 1990 and 1991 GRAMMYs.
The Best Latin Urban Album Category Was Introduced In 2007
The first winner in this category was the urban hip-hop outfit Calle 13, for their 2007 album Residente o Visitante.
The first female nominee was Vanessa Bañuelos, a member of the Latin rap trio La Sinfonia, who were nominated for Best Latin Urban Album for their 2008 self-titled album at the 2009 GRAMMYs.
Here’s Who Dominated The Best Norteño Album Category
The first GRAMMY winner in the Best Norteño Album category was Los Tigres Del Norte, for their 2006 album Historias Que Contar, at the 2007 GRAMMYs. To date, they have landed four consecutive wins — at the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 GRAMMYs.
The Intersection Between Latin, Rock & Alternative Has Shifted
Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album; Best Latin Rock, Alternative Or Urban Album; Best Latin Rock/Alternative Performance… so on and so forth.
If that’s a mouthful, again, that shows how the Academy continually hones in on a musical sphere for inclusion and accuracy’s sake.
Within this shifting category, the first winner was Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, who won Best Latin Rock/Alternative Performance for 1997’s Fabulosos Calavera at the 1998 GRAMMYs.
At the 2016 GRAMMYs, there was a tie for the golden gramophone for Best Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album, between Natalia Lafourcade and Pitbull. Overall, the most wins underneath this umbrella go to Maná, with a total of three.
These Artists Made History In Tropical Latin Categories
Over the years, this component of Latin music has been honored with GRAMMYs for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Performance, Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album, Best Tropical Latin Performance, and Best Tropical Latin Album.
The first winner of a GRAMMY for Best Tropical Latin Performance was Tito Puente & His Latin Ensemble, for "On Broadway," from the 1983 album of the same name.
This Was The First Latin Artist To Win Album Of The Year
Ten-time GRAMMY winner and 14-time nominee Carlos Santana holds this distinction for 1999’s "Supernatural," at the 2000 GRAMMYs.
This Was The First Spanish-Language Album To Be Nominated For Album Of The Year
That would be Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti, at the 2023 GRAMMYs; Bad Bunny also performed at the ceremony, but Harry Styles ended up taking home that golden gramophone.
Ditto Música Mexicana — Formerly Known As Best Regional Mexican Music Album
The Inaugural Trophy For Best Música Urbana Album Went To…
The one and only Bad Bunny, for 2020’s El Último Tour Del Mundo. He took home the golden gramophone again at the 2023 GRAMMYs for Un Verano Sin Ti.
Keep checking back as more information comes out about the 2024 GRAMMYs — and how the Recording Academy will honor and elevate Latin genres once again!
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
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.
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."
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.
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."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Black Sounds Beautiful: How Lil Nas X Turned The Industry On Its Head With "Old Town Road" And Beyond
In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, relive Lil Nas X's massive debut, "Old Town Road," and learn how he's since been an advocate for Black and LGBTQIA+ communities through his music and his platform.
Lil Nas X became a global sensation practically overnight, but it wasn't an accident.
The American singer and rapper — born Montero Lamar Hill — became fluent in music and pop culture at an early age, becoming a meme aficionado. His love for internet culture cultivated the perfect recipe for his debut single, "Old Town Road," to become one of the most viral hits in music history; the song also prompted a necessary conversation about the bounds of genre.
"Old Town Road" rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and still holds the record for most time spent at No. 1 at 19 weeks. The single later helped Lil Nas X snag two GRAMMY Awards for Best Pop/Duo Group Performance and Best Music Video. (To date, he's won 2 GRAMMYs and has received 11 nominations overall.)
Aside from his immense musical talent, Lil Nas X — who came out as gay on social media during his Hot 100 reign — has been a fierce champion for LGBTQIA+ and Black communities.
At just 24 years old, Lil Nas X has plenty more history-making and game-changing moves in store. As he revealed during his March 2023 campaign with Coach, "My next big chapter is coming."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Black Sounds Beautiful: How Megan Thee Stallion Turned Viral Fame Into A GRAMMY-Winning Rap Career
In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, revisit Megan Thee Stallion's rapid rise to fame — from viral hits "Hot Girl Summer," "Savage," and "WAP" to winning a GRAMMY with Beyoncé.
Born Megan Pete, the Houston native was introduced to music at an early age because her mother — an underground hip-hop artist who went by the name Holly-Wood — brought her to recording sessions. Megan began regularly writing lyrics and freestyling, which led to a clip of a rap battle going viral, jump-starting her career.
By 2020, Megan earned her first two Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers, "Savage" and "WAP" featuring Cardi B. The former caught the attention of fellow Houston-bred diva Beyoncé, who later hopped on the track for a remix, and snagged Megan two GRAMMY wins in a full-circle moment — during her acceptance speech, Megan revealed her dream was to become "the rap Beyoncé."
Beyond Megan's massive musical achievements, the rap princess has also been a champion of Black women internationally.
"It's ridiculous that some people think the simple phrase 'Protect Black women' is controversial," she wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. "We deserve to be protected as human beings. And we are entitled to our anger about a laundry list of mistreatment and neglect that we suffer."