The Latinas Of 'Women Who Rock'

Celia Cruz

Photo: M. Caulfield/WireImage


The Latinas Of 'Women Who Rock'

Sometimes Latinas are forgotten about when it comes to popular music; we look at the Latina artists who are featured in 'Women Who Rock,' a new book that celebrates female artists making contributions to popular culture

GRAMMYs/Oct 10, 2018 - 05:21 am

Wearing a long blue lace gown with ruffled flounce sleeves, the late salsa music queen Celia Cruz was a powerhouse onstage during the 2002 Latin GRAMMY Awards. With her trademark smile and a towering white and blue wig that was so grand it resembled a headdress, she energetically belted "La Negra Tiene Tumbao," her 2001 hit song that was nominated for three Latin GRAMMYs that evening, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Music Video of the Year.

This moment is highlighted in Women Who Rock, a new book that pays tribute to women who have defined, continue to define and have made contributions to popular music. The illustrated book is  densely rich and written by multiple authors, all of whom are female. It features playlists picked to sonically introduce readers to the artists they read about.

It's not an easy feat to rundown the history of women in music, however pop music critic and editor Evelyn McDonnell was determined to do just that alongside a roster of diverse women.

"I didn't want it to just be my taste. Or my opinion," shared McDonnell. "I wanted to have this pool of experts…and I really sought diversity of expertise among those writers."

One of those writers, Michelle Threadgould knew "there would be this mad dash [to feature mostly] white rock and roll female musicians." So she pitched and ultimately penned pieces spotlighting Cruz, Selena Quintanilla, Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux, Los Angeles punk rocker Alice Bag and other Latina artists featured in the book.

"I pitched…artists that I really wanted in the book and that I did not think the majority would pitch," she shared. "I have an essay in there that's about Alice Bag. Alice Bag has definitely not had pages dedicated to her in a book like this," Threadgould said.

Representation of Latin Women in Music

"I feel like [Latinas tend] to get left out of a lot of discourses," McDonnell said. "Beginning with Celia Cruz, who's someone I think is so amazing and sometimes not acknowledged enough outside the Latino community."

"There's so many interesting things about Celia," Threadgould said. "I think the hardest thing is things that you leave out."

Threadgould begins Cruz's chapter with her 2002 Latin GRAMMY performance and goes into the Afro-Latina's musical style describing "her call-and-response improvisations." She also explores on her exile from Cuba, which played a crucial role in her professional and personal life.

The book also tells the story of Selena Quintanilla, the popular cumbia and Tex-Mex singer who was tragically killed in 1995 at the age of 23. In the past two decades the singer, who made history when she won Best Mexican-American Album at the 1994 36th GRAMMY Awards, has transcended the Latino community, garnering nods from the likes of rapper Drake and pop group Haim.

Although a film adaptation of Selena's life was released in 1997, starring a then relatively unknown Jennifer Lopez, was met with critical acclaim, Threadgould digs deeper into her life before and after her death. "I was also really tired of her being portrayed as this good daughter that [re-affirmed] patriarchal machismo values that were bullsh**, because that really wasn't her life," she said. "That absolutely was not. I guess it was sort of like a reframing of Selena that was important to me."

Why This Narrative Is Important To All Women

It was Selena's ability to defy her obstacles as a woman, and the resilience of all the other artists in the book that overcame their own boundaries that at the end of the day, both McDonnell and Threadgoud, hope women can draw from the book and use as encouragement in their own lives.

"It's a really tough time right now, because I think that everything that's in the news is triggering for so many women, right. It's hard. It's really hard," McDonnell said. "I'm going through that emotionally, myself. I hope that this book can be a point of inspiration."

Threadgould added: "What I think is really important is this whole idea of owning your rage, owning your ugliness, owning these aspects of yourself that aren't accepted by the patriarchy and claiming them and researching them, and not being afraid of them," she said. "Every single person that I dig was like a rebel in her own way. That's what I really hope women are inspired to be is like to be their own rebel."

Women Who Rock is available now.

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More



Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY


Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs



Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

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