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Premiere: Rawayana Deliver A Soothing Trip Back To Venezuela With "Welcome To El Sur"

GRAMMY.com has the first listen of Venezuelan collective Rawayana's latest track, "Welcome to El Sur"

GRAMMYs/Mar 24, 2021 - 11:04 pm

Latin GRAMMY-nominated collective Rawayana's "Welcome to El Sur" is a sunny, soothing track dedicated to their native Venezuela. 

The song, a mix of laid-back Latin American and African sounds, takes them all back to Venezuela where currrently only one of their members resides—three members no longer live in the country due to political and economic reasons. They see the song as an optimistic, dreamy return home. The group explained the song's meaning in a statement to GRAMMY.com: 

"People from Latin America share the same idiosyncratic-cultural regrets and shortages that impede our development, despite the fact that we find ourselves in different stages of similar [life] cycles. Hence, ‘Welcome To El Sur,’ in addition to being a welcome, is also an aspiration to rise above the adversities that those of us who live in this corner of the world face in order to achieve sufficient clarity that allows us to evolve."

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The video's animation is a collaboration between Totem TV, Walt Disney Animation Studios Director of Animation, Jorge Ruiz Cano, Brocoli Records, and Rawayana.

The track comes after the release of a string of singles "Camarones y Viniles," "2020" and "Mi Amigo Luis." The band last released an album, Trippy Caribbean, in 2016.

"Welcome to El Sur" will be a part of their forthcoming album out later this year. The song will be available on streaming platforms on March 25. 

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La Santa Cecilia poses for a photo together in front of a step and repeat at the GRAMMY Museum
La Santa Cecilia

Photo: Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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La Santa Cecilia Celebrates Their 'Alma Bohemia' With Documentary Screening & Performance At The GRAMMY Museum

In a documentary screening detailing the making of their album 'Cuatro Copas' followed by a discussion and live performance at the GRAMMY Museum, La Santa Cecilia recounts years of making music and friendship.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 06:32 pm

"Oh no, I’m going to start crying again," says La Santa Cecilia singer La Marisoul during a touching scene in Alma Bohemia, the documentary directed by Carlos Pérez honoring the Los Angeles band’s 15 year anniversary. 

As it turns out, there are many reasons to be emotional about this film — and the very existence of La Santa Cecilia in the contemporary Latin music landscape. Fittingly, Alma Bohemia was received enthusiastically by the capacity audience during an exclusive screening on April 3 at the GRAMMY Museum’s Clive Davis Theater in Los Angeles. 

Formed by La Marisoul (real name is Marisol Hernández), bassist Alex Bendaña, accordionist and requinto player José "Pepe" Carlos and percussionist Miguel "Oso" Ramírez, La Santa Cecilia was for years one of the best kept secrets in the Los Angeles music scene.  As close friends and musicians, they won over audiences with an organic, down-to-earth sound and a lovely songbook that draws from traditional formats such as bolero, ranchera and nueva canción.

Alma Bohemia follows the making of La Santa’s 2023 album, Cuatro Copas Bohemia en la Finca Altozano. A celebration of the band’s longevity, the session also functions as a subtle, yet powerful musical experiment. It was recorded at the Finca Altozano in Baja California, where the band members stayed as guests of celebrated chef Javier Plascencia — a longtime fan.

Argentine producer Sebastián Krys — the band’s longtime collaborator — calls this his Alan Lomax experiment. The album was recorded live on tape with a variety of strategically placed microphones capturing hints of ambient sonics — a sweet afternoon breeze, the clinking of glasses, the musicians’ banter, the soft sounds that accompany stillness. 

From the very beginning, the making of Cuatro Copas mirrors the band’s bohemian cosmovision: A communal approach where the quartet — together with carefully selected guest stars — get together to share the magic of creation, the unity of like-minded souls, homemade food, and more than a couple of drinks. In effect, the bottles of mezcal and never ending rounds of toasting quickly become a running joke throughout the documentary.

La Marisoul’s fragile lament is enveloped in spiraling lines of mournful electric guitars with soulful understatement on the track "Almohada." Guest artists liven things up, with Oaxacan sister duo Dueto Dos Rosas adding urgency to "Pescadores de Ensenada," while son jarocho master Patricio Hidalgo ventures into a lilting (yet hopeful) "Yo Vengo A Ofrecer Mi Corazón," the ‘90s Argentine rock anthem by Fito Páez.

Visibly delighted to be part of the bohemia, 60-year-old ranchera diva Aida Cuevas steals the show with her rousing rendition of "Cuatro Copas," the José Alfredo Jiménez classic. "Viva México!" she exclaims as the entire group sits around a bonfire at night, forging the past and future of Mexican American music into one.

Read more: La Santa Cecilia Perform "Someday, Someday New"

Following the screening, the band sat down for a Q&A session hosted by journalist Betto Arcos. Sitting on the first row, a visibly moved young woman from El Salvador thanked the band for helping her to cope with the complex web of feelings entailed in migrating from Latin America. La Santa’s songs, she said, reminded her of the loving abuelita who stayed behind.

"We love the old boleros and rancheras," said La Marisoul. "We became musicians by playing many of those songs in small clubs and quinceañeras. It’s a repertoire that we love, and I don’t think that will ever change."

Carlos touched on his experience being a member of Santa Cecilia for about seven years before he was able to secure legal status in the U.S. When the band started to get concert bookings in Texas, they would take long detours on their drives to avoid the possibility of being stopped by the authorities. Carlos thanked his wife Ana for the emotional support she provided during those difficult years.

Ramírez took the opportunity to acknowledge producer Krys for being an early champion of the band. "He had a vision, and he made us better," he said, flashing forward to a recent edition of the Vive Latino festival. "There were about 12,000 people to see us," he said. "And they were singing along to our tunes."

"The band is just an excuse to hang out with your friends," added La Marisoul just before La Santa performed two live songs. Her voice sounded luminous and defiant in the theater’s intimate space, always the protagonist in the group’s delicately layered arrangements.

"The first time I got to see the finished documentary, I felt proud of all the work we’ve done together," said producer Krys from his Los Angeles studio the day after the screening. "On the other hand, there’s a lot of work ahead of us. I believe La Santa Cecilia deserves wider exposure. They should be up there among the greatest artists in Latin music."

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Pablo Alborán
Pablo Alborán performs on stage at WiZink Center in Madrid, Spain.

Photo: Aldara Zarraoa / Redferns / GettyImages

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Pablo Alborán Reflects on His Latin GRAMMY History, Talismans & Lessons From 'La Cu4rta Hoja'

Pablo Alborán discusses his emotional journey with the Latin GRAMMYs — a total of 29 nominations and no wins — as well as the process behind his GRAMMY-nominated album 'La Cu4rta Hoja.'

GRAMMYs/Jan 8, 2024 - 02:59 pm

Spanish singer/songwriter Pablo Alborán has a unique history with the Latin GRAMMYs. Although he receives a nomination for each album he releases, he has yet to win a golden gramophone. 

At the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, Alborán was the Spaniard with the most nominations. He received a total of five nominations, including Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, and Song Of The Year. Yet on the Biggest Night In Latin Music, none of the envelopes that announced the winner had Alborán's name. Since 2011, he has been nominated 29 times without a win; his most meaningful accomplishment, however, is the freedom to continue making music and having untiring support from his family, friends, and fans. 

"Refer to last year's #LatinGRAMMY post," Alborán wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter), followed by a series of smiling emojis after the ceremony.

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Alborán's 2022 album La Cu4rta Hoja is nominated for Best Latin Pop Album. The record competes against Don Juan by Maluma, A Ciegas from Paula Arena, Pedro Capó's La Neta, Gaby Moreno's X Mí (Vol. 1), and Beautiful Humans, Vol. 1 by AleMor.

During his Latin American tour, Alborán sat down with GRAMMY.com via Zoom to speak about the lessons from La Cu4rta Hoja, his history with the Latin GRAMMYs, and his return to the stages in the United States.

In 2011, you received your first Latin GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist, Best Male Pop Vocal Album for his self-titled debut LP, and Song Of The Year for "Solamente tú." What do you remember from that ceremony?

When they told me about the Latin GRAMMYs; it was an enormous thrill. I wasn't familiar with the Latin GRAMMY because my career just started. They called me and said, 'Hey, Demi Lovato is going to sing with you,' which was also very intense. 

I remember taking my parents [to Las Vegas], which was the terrible part because they dressed formally. My mother looked like Cinderella, my father looked like a prince, my brother... They were all there and seated a little farther from us. When they announced the winners…I looked back, and my parents' faces, poor things, they looked as if I had been killed. [Laughs.]They were outraged, trying to pretend they were okay so I wouldn't see them upset. I had Sie7e and his wife sitting next to me, the happiness they felt when he won the Best New Artist award; I was shocked at how happy and excited they were. 

I was genuinely happy, suddenly seeing their happiness after so much work. I understand there's a competitive aspect; we're human beings, but I've been watching the Latin GRAMMYs for many years, living how it is, enjoying, learning to enjoy under pressure.

Unlike in the past, you had no talismans for the 24th Latin GRAMMYs ceremony. Although you did not use any at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, you often use talismans such as eagles, twins, and silver clothes for luck. When did this practice start? It appeared that it became an obsession, as you constantly searched for signs everywhere.

It was a way to protect myself and hang on to something and, of course, be able to let go of it as well. Thank goodness I didn't win the Latin GRAMMY when I had all the eagle signs; otherwise, my house would be filled with eagle talismans (laughs). I could see myself getting hooked on the eagle stuff. We must put everything into perspective and live the experience without overthinking. I try not to be too superstitious about anything, anyway, because it's a kind of slavery.

It has been a year since the release of La Cu4rta Hoja. What have you learned from the album and its 11 songs?

Each album is a journey; it is a new experience. Each album teaches you something different, and this one has taught me to live at the speed of musical consumption and not lose the essence in the middle of this journey. 

Being able to innovate while simultaneously maintaining your roots and supporting what you like in music —that balance will always be more challenging to maintain due to what surrounds you, the speed with which music is consumed, and the fact that millions of songs are released weekly. There are times when that effort is more challenging and other times, it is effortless. 

Touring gives me the illusion of seeing an audience that wants to feel the songs regardless of their style. People want to feel and want to see their feelings reflected in the lyrics and the music. And that reminds me why I make music and why I am here. 

Have you been surprised by reactions to any particular song from La Cu4rta Hoja?

"A Batir las Alas" surprised me a lot during concerts because it is a very personal song and, at the same time, a little strange… The lyrics, the way of singing it, the structure, and the response from the people in concerts were excellent. 

"Voraces" also surprised me a lot. It is the third song on the show's setlist. It amazes me that people sing and like it since it is a song that wasn't a single and has a strange concept; it's like a tanguillo [an upbeat and catchy flamenco palo] and, simultaneously, a chacarera [a polyrhythmic Argentinean folk subgenre].

You've always been involved with producing your albums, but you've taken a more prominent role in your last two albums. Why was that? 

In [2020's] Vértigo, I worked remotely, which was challenging. That album was very complicated to put together because I worked with Julio Reyes Copello from Miami, the strings were made in Prague, and my guitarists were in [Spain]. It was a fun process on the one hand but cold on the other. I felt like things were lost. I learned a lot on that album as well. In the end, you know how you want your song to sound, so you have to be very involved. 

On this last album, some songs didn't change much from the demo I produced at home. We wanted to stick with that first idea…playing it live and improving some things. But that production was already done. For example, "A Batir las Alas" worked with a guitar and a string, and there was not even a drum; there was barely a bass. It is a reasonably large ballad, yet we wanted to make it small. There are other times that the producer's work obviously, no matter how much I am involved, [is needed].

What do you like the most about producing?

The freedom. You feel an absence of judgment, an absence of limits. I can spend hours in the studio without eating, without seeing anyone, working with the musicians and the producers, or whoever is there. It feels like anything is possible — not because you know that the process can change suddenly, but because you know that what you produce, maybe you will hear again the next day, and it seems like a disaster, or it could be the best thing in the world.

So I really enjoyed it, knowing that moment was mine and that of those who were there, no one would hear it or give their opinion. Once it's finished, that song is no longer mine; it belongs to everyone. But it is enjoyable to feel that you are jumping into the void and that you are going to fall into the water.

La Cu4rta Hoja was created during your last tour. Has the album inspired you to create new songs?

There are ideas... When I'm on the plane, I spend hours listening to the voice notes on my phone, which are ideas [for] millions of songs I have. I'm in the hotel room, coming from a show or going to a show, and an idea comes to mind, and I record it and then review it. 

Silence is indeed necessary to create. So, I am very focused on giving 100 percent on this tour. There are many trips, many countries. It is the longest, almost the most extended tour we are doing, and then when I return home, and I am in that silence and in that tranquility, everything I am experiencing will explode. There are a lot of emotions and inputs that I'm receiving that I still can't capture because I'm non-stop.

This is the most extensive tour you will do in the United States. What is it like preparing for all those dates? You will go to cities you've never performed in before.

There's a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. We were already in the United States a few years ago, and it was necessary to come back, and the fact that people want it is a gift to me. 

Different things happen at each concert, the repertoire changes, and we let ourselves be carried away by what happens and the place we are in. We also sing versions, maybe a song by a local artist, and in the United States, I'm excited to do some covers of things I already have in mind.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
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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Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."

Moniquea

Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.

L'Impératrice

L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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