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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Angela Aguilar On Her Culture And Family Legacy

Angela Aguilar

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Angela Aguilar On Her Culture And Family Legacy

The 15-year-old singer, who is up for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano), also talks about her love of singing ranchera music and how she hopes to catch a glimpse of Lady Gaga at the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 11, 2019 - 07:16 am

At only 15 years old, Angela Aguilar talks about music with the wisdom of someone much older. It might be because since she was a child she's been crooning some of the most heavy-hearted kinds of Spanish language songs of all time: ranchera.

"Ranchera music does something to you that I don't think a lot of genres can do," she says enthusiastically. "Some songs are made to listen to in the background, some songs are [made] just to dance to, some songs are [made for you] to feel something and I feel like almost every ranchera song is made for you to feel something."

Singing ranchera, i.e., traditional Mexican music from the countryside that is sometimes sung with mariachi, is in her blood. Aguilar's father is GRAMMY-winning mariachi singer/songwriter Pepe Aguilar. Her grandfather was the late GRAMMY-nominated master mariachi singer and Mexican Cinema Golden Era actor Antonio Aguilar. Her grandmother is the prolific Mexican singer and actress Flor Silvestre.

Her family's legacy inspired Aguilar at a very young age to sing. Her first time on a stage was at the age of three in front of 80,000 people on one of the pit stops on her grandfather's last tour. At seven, she went into a recording studio to record Whitney Houston's classic ballads "I Will Always Love You" and the "Wind Beneath My Wings."

She may be entertainment royalty in Mexico, but the Mexican-American singer is swiftly carving out a unique space for herself in the music world: She has a Latin GRAMMY performance under her belt and is one of the youngest artists to ever be nominated for a Latin GRAMMY and GRAMMY.

Aguilar spoke the Recording Academy about her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano), what it takes to be singer at such a young age, and how proud she is to represent her culture through song.

How did you find out about your GRAMMY nomination? How did you feel when you found out?

I was waking up to go to school and my sister ran into my room started jumping on my bed, like, "Angela you have to look at this." I didn't even know the GRAMMY nominations were that day. I never even thought I was gonna get nominated. So when my sister came to me I was completely, completely shocked. It was like, I don't know, 6 AM, and I was with my parents running up to their room, going and telling them. 

It was super, super cool because I've always seen the GRAMMYs, and I've always related them to my father[.] My father has [four] American GRAMMYs and he has four Latin GRAMMYs, so like whenever I thought of a GRAMMY I thought of him. I always used to go with him to all the awards ceremonies and everything, so this time it was like wow, it's my turn now.

You're a Mexican-American artist singing in Spanish. You were nominated for two Latin GRAMMYs, now you're nominated for a GRAMMY. What do these nominations mean to you?

I didn't start to sing because I wanted to get GRAMMYs or [because] I wanted to get awards or anything. I started singing because I really like music and it's been my passion since I was two years old.

The first time I was on stage in front of like 80,000 people was when I was three, and I sang a little part of a song and it started becoming, not a routine, but it started becoming a treat for me of when I was a little kid. It was amazing.

As I started growing, I started accompanying my dad to all his different shows. Last year we sold over 400,000 tickets worldwide in different shows and arenas and everything. It's been a true blessing to be able to be Mexican-American and to be a woman and to be recognized in an industry filled with so many talented artists.

It's pretty crazy to be nominated for an award of this caliber at 15. I'm still so small and it's just crazy to be nominated next to my heroes like, Luis Miguel. He's such a powerful artist, he's one of my dad's friends. He's such an inspiration to me. He started when he was very, very little as well. 

Why did you decide to name your GRAMMY-nominated album Primero Soy Mexicana?

Well, because I am Mexican-American. I was born in Los Angeles, I have a house over there. I have a house in Mexico. Half of the year I'm in Mexico, half of the year I'm in the States, and it's so, so cool to be American and to be bilingual and to have dual citizenship. But at the same time, I'm Mexican. That's where I came from, it's in my veins, that's why I sing the songs that I do. I'm honoring my ancestors and the traditions that my grandfather and my grandmother have led me to follow. So before anything, before being American, I'm Mexican, and I'm proud of it.

Speaking of your culture, you wore an indigenous huichol corset at the Latin GRAMMYs, and you highlight your culture through your dresses when you perform. Why is it so important for you to share your culture with the world?

Because I feel like our culture is what makes us. How can you be someone different? How can you change who you are if you don't know who you are? It's like, you're trying to find your own way, but you don't even know where you came from. You always need to know where your road starts, and I think my road is starting with my traditions, with very, very important things that my ancestors left me for a reason.

When I was nine years old, I sang a song called "La Chancla." It's a very, very old song that my grandfather used to sing. And before my grandfather it was another artist. It's basically a song about a person that used to love someone and they don't anymore. And it's me at nine years old singing "La Chancla." I didn't even understand it, but I felt so proud to sing something that my grandfather was singing and to perform stuff that represented my country.

Sometimes when people think of Mexico they don't necessarily think of all the beautiful things and the culture and the food and everything. They think about the negative things, which also are there. You cannot be blind to the negativity, but you cannot let it control you. That's why I perform with very big and sparkly dresses that are very, very in honor of my culture. But at the same time, they're my dresses. I add Swarovskis, I add mesh, and I add crinoline. I add so many things that make the dress me because it's really cool to honor your culture, but at the same time you have to honor yourself.

What made you want to follow in your family's footsteps and be a professional musician?

When I was little, whenever I went on a train or a plane or a bus, I would try to mimic the same sounds or the same vibration that the airplane was doing. My love of music started growing, growing, growing. And I went into my first recording studio when I was seven. I recorded a Whitney Houston song, "I Will Always Love You," and then I also recorded "The Wind Beneath My Wings." [Those songs have] some powerhouse vocals. It's always been my thing. I really like doing harmonies and I love doing runs. I do sing Mexican music, but that's not all I listen to. Of course I can name 20,000 artists, but I can also tell you about Lady Gaga, I can tell you about the Rolling Stones, about Pink FloydColdplay. I like to have a lot of tools so that when I sing certain types of music, it can still be a worldwide thing.

So Latin music, specifically urban Latin music, is getting very popular here in the U.S. Would you ever consider performing something in that realm?

I don't really know. I have a lot of friends that are in that, like Becky G is very close with me. I'm pretty good with all of the people that sing that genre, and I think it's very cool, I think it's very respectable. I love dancing with it, it's very fun to see how many things they can come up with and the new dances and everything. But right now I'm just not focused on stuff like that. I just wanna focus on what I'm doing right now, which is just mariachi. And if the opportunity comes or if we decide to do a collaboration with somebody or something, that would be super, super cool.

RELATED: Meet First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: TOKiMONSTA On Why 'Lune Rouge' Is "A Celebration Of Life"

Do you at all feel pressured to live up to your family's legacy?

I don't feel pressured. I feel like it's a big responsibility. Honestly, being an Aguilar, having that last name means a lot, especially in Mexico. I think it's something I can use to grow as an artist and as a singer and as a person, because I never want to let [my family] down. So I'm just working on myself, I'm working on my product. 

It's really cool that they're still with me. My grandfather passed away 10 years ago, but my grandmother's still with me and my father's still with me. It's really cool because they help me all the time. Every single time I get off the stage, my dad tells me how I can improve myself, and that's helped me a lot.

Tell me, what is it that you love about singing ranchera music?

I just feel like every song is a story. The songs that I sing, they all have meaning.

I was talking to a director, today actually, about how whenever I sing a happy ranchera song I get happy, and whenever a sing a sad and depressing, heartfelt breakup song, I get super sad to the point of where I can start crying. And yes, I'm a very sensitive person because I'm an artist, but ranchera music does something to you that I don't think a lot of genres can do, which is it makes you feel. I feel like almost every ranchera song is made for you to feel something.

What is one thing you want for people in the U.S. to know about you as an artist?

I want them to know that it's okay to be young in the industry, because it is gonna be harder for you. I'm 15, and it's hard to be doing school and to be singing and to be on finals, and the next day I have a performance or I have an awards ceremony to go to. It is hard, but it's worth it, if that's what you love.

And I think to the parents, and to just older people in general, I just wanna say that young artists can be as responsible and respectable as people that are older. The arts should not have an age where you can start or where you should stop. I feel like anyone can do it at anytime at any age.

RELATED: Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Protoje On Evolving Reggae

You've already accomplished so much at just 15. What's next for you?

I'm probably gonna do an album with my songs that I [write the] lyrics [for]. I think that's gonna be next for me. I think maybe start branching out, maybe start singing in different languages. I don't wanna stop growing, ever.

What are you most looking forward to the most at the 61st GRAMMY Awards?

I don't even know. If I win, I'm gonna be super happy, but if I lose it's not gonna define me. I saw this movie called A Star is Born where Lady Gaga performs, and that was one of the best things I've ever seen. I haven't cried that much in a movie since, like, Bambi. I feel like if I see her I'm gonna kind of have like a starstruck moment. I never get starstruck  because I've been in the industry for so long, and I live in Los Angeles. It's everywhere. But with her I think I might get a little antsy.

2019 GRAMMY Awards To Air Feb. 10, 2019, From Los Angeles

Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

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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.

Seattle's Museum Of Pop Culture To Host Pearl Jam Exhibit

Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

Rosalía 

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:25 am

Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.

 

RELATED: How Rosalia Is Reinventing What It Means To Be A Global Pop Star

"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.

Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork. 

Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist. 

Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.

2019 Music Festival Preview: Noise Pop, Coachella, Ultra & More

Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Taylor Swift

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images

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Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium

GRAMMYs/Sep 18, 2019 - 02:38 am

Taylor Swift  will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.

The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1

"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!" 

Lover was released Aug. 23 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Her sold-out tour for her previous album, 2017's Reputation, was the highest grossing U.S. tour ever, breaking her own record.

Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17.