meta-scriptRelive Ellas Y Su Música: Chiquis & Dolly Parton Perform "Jolene" And Other Performances From The Historic Night | GRAMMY.com
Chiquis Rivera performs at Ellas Y Su Musica
Chiquis

John Parra/Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy

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Relive Ellas Y Su Música: Chiquis & Dolly Parton Perform "Jolene" And Other Performances From The Historic Night

Watch the amazing performances, including Chiquis and Dolly Parton's bilingual version of "Jolene," that could only happen on the Latin Recording Academy stage

Latin GRAMMYs/Oct 28, 2021 - 10:56 pm

Last night, the biggest and brightest women in the music industry came together for showstopping performances at the Latin Recording Academy's Ellas Y Su Música event, a two-hour musical celebration paying tribute to Latinas and women in Latin music, that will go down in the memories of all who watched. From the queen of country Dolly Parton coming together with Mexican regional music superstar Chiquis Rivera for a riveting bilingual version of "Jolene" to Thalía bringing out her biggest hits, these performances could only have happened on the Latin Recording Academy stage.

Revisit some of the stellar performances from Ellas Y Su Música below. 

Mon Laferte, Alejandra Guzman And Yuri Open The Spectacular Show

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Chiquis Rivera And Dolly Parton Bring "Jolene" To Life In A Spanglish Performance

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Becky G Performs "Pijama" And Pays Tribute To J.Lo

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Thalía Sings Her Biggest Hits

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The GRAMMY Museum Reopens In May 2021 With Exhibits On Dave Mathews Band, Marco Antonio Solís, Motown & Nat King Cole

Luiza Lian singing
Luiza Lian

Photo: Filipa Aurélio

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5 Artists Leading A New Wave Of Latin Trip-Hop & Downtempo: Céu, Natalia Clavier & More

As Latin GRAMMY winner Mon Laferte embarks on a U.S. tour of her new, trip-hop flavored album 'Autopoetica,' get to know five acts who are also fusing traditional Latin rhythms with downtempo beats.

GRAMMYs/May 6, 2024 - 01:54 pm

The explosive Latin music scene is moving in many directions: from brassy corridos tumbados to pounding perreo tracks. Yet another, slower movement is quietly brewing: Latin trip-hop and downtempo. 

Trip-hop originated in the 1990s and typically refers to downtempo music with a degree of electronic experimentation and an elusive sense of eeriness. While it's a contentious term that has been shunned by the very artists’ whose sound it was coined to describe (Portishead’s Geoff Barrow once tweeted "call it anything else but that";), it has been widely embraced in Latin America, which has imprinted on the genre since it’s infancy.

In 2001, the Franco-Argentine act Gotan Project poured tango into trip-hop musings to create their seminal record La revancha del Tango. Brazilian bossa nova has also featured heavily in the peripheral trip-hop scene: London-Brazilian outfit Smoke City’s 1997 Flying Away was awash with the rhythms of Rio de Janeiro. 

Latin GRAMMY winner Mon Laferte recalls listening to the sounds of Portishead in the 1990s, gazing out the window of her Chilean home in portside city Viña del Mar. "I loved Beth Gibbons’ voice," she says. "I remember the television was showing a Portishead concert, and I thought, Who is this captivating voice?"

That interest has followed Laferte throughout her career. On 2023's Autopoetica, Laferte brings back the Latin twist on trip-hop — drawing on traditional styles that have been a staple to her previous catalog (bolero, salsa, cumbia), then blending them into a downtempo electro canvas. "40yMM," a song that navigates the ups and downs of turning 40, begins with atmospheric strings, whispered vocals, and slow, pulsating beats, before unexpectedly branching into a rhythmic salsa. 

Laferte is one of a new wave of artists exploring the boundaries of traditional Latin styles through poignant, reflective experimentation — whether it be pasting a hypnotic double cumbia beat onto a trippy electro soundscape, or combining regional folk guitar with shuddering synths. Read on for five artists who are at the forefront of a new wave of Latin trip-hop and downtempo.

Karen y Los Remedios 

Hailing from Mexico, Karen y Los Remedios is a Mexican trio that makes "existential Cumbia." Their 2023 debut album, Silencio, is a gorgeously dark exploration of the realizations that occur through silence. On "Cartas Marinas," Ana Karen G Barajas asks "What would your voice be without mine?/What would your hand be without mine?"; her profound, prophetic tone that chills the spine.

The trio, formed by Barajas, guitarist Guillermo Berbeyer and producer Jonathan Muriel (Jiony), first met on projects under Jiony's Mexico City label, VAA, which specializes in electro, techno, funk and traditional Latin sounds. The trio eventually teamed up to put out two EPs, cumbia-driven
Botanas, Vol15, in 2020, and lo-fi hip hop effort Recuerdos de Expiación in 2021.

Federico Aubele

Singing with shivering stillness, Federico Aubele’s music is soft, pensive and haunting. Mixing jazz, trip-hop and folk, the Argentine is signed to ESL Music, which is headed by U.S. electro act Thievery Corporation. His musical footprint is similarly global: Aubele released his debut album, Gran Hotel Buenos Aires, in 2004 while living in Berlin, and then spent time making music in Barcelona, before settling in New York.

His latest album, 2023's
Time Drips On My Bed, is a meditative reflection on the past inspired by his early life in Buenos Aires, a city he grew up in, but is at once a stranger to. His music is informed by Latin classical guitars, nodding to the tango and folk styles present in Argentina, and mixing in contemporary electronic elements to hone his eclectic and exploratory style. 

Luiza Lian 

Signed to international independent label ZZK Records, Luiza Lian is a Sao Paulo-based musician who toys with experimental techniques, bouncing basslines and erratic vocal arrangement. On the latest album, 7 Estrelas | quem arrancou o céu?, she uses voice manipulation to explore themes of reality and deception, holding a mirror up to a consumerist world to question where our real values should lie. 

Lian’s deep mediations on the record translate to an immersive live show that has won awards in her native Brazil. With frantic projections, flashing lights and costume design that form part of the stage backdrop, she creates a deliberately disorientating and harrowing mood, encouraging viewers to join her reflection on humanity. 

Natalia Clavier

Like Abuele, Buenos Aires vocalist Clavier is another protegee of the Thievery Corporation and spent a large part of her early career as the band’s lead vocalist. Clavier kindled a love for singing as a child after listening to her grandmother’s jazz records and eventually grew to love electronic music after discovering the sounds of Massive Attack, Björk and Portishead. 

After spending the first chapter of her music career as a session and live vocalist, Clavier released her debut album,
Nectár, in 2008. She's since crafted a body of solo work that combines hushed, jazzy vocals with gorgeously downtempo tracks. Her most recent album with Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton, 2023’s Corazón Kintsugi, combines Bossa Nova, dub, and trip-hop into a rich soundscape. 

Céu 

Maria do Céu Whitaker Poças, known as Céu, is a Sao Paulo musician whose music veers into a particularly dub vein of downtempo. 

Since releasing her first self-titled album in 2005, Céu has worked with a mixture of jazz, reggae and samba, her blissfully smooth vocals weaving between the genres. The self-titled album was a critical success, earning her a Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist in 2006, and a GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary World Music Album in 2008.

Céu continues to make soft, blissfully melodic music with an electronic edge. On 2024 single Coração Âncora, she teams up with producer RDD to sing a breezy, summery ode the "anchored heart," committed and assured. 

6 Artists Reimagining Flamenco For A New Generation: María José Llergo, C. Tangana, Mëstiza & More

Photo of GRAMMY trophy
GRAMMY Award statue

Photo: Jathan Campbell

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How Much Is A GRAMMY Worth? 7 Facts To Know About The GRAMMY Award Trophy

Here are seven facts to know about the actual cost and worth of a GRAMMY trophy, presented once a year by the Recording Academy at the GRAMMY Awards.

GRAMMYs/May 1, 2024 - 04:23 pm

Since 1959, the GRAMMY Award has been music’s most coveted honor. Each year at the annual GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists are recognized for their musical excellence by their peers. Their lives are forever changed — so are their career trajectories. And when you have questions about the GRAMMYs, we have answers.

Here are seven facts to know about the value of the GRAMMY trophy.

How Much Does A GRAMMY Trophy Cost To Make?

The cost to produce a GRAMMY Award trophy, including labor and materials, is nearly $800. Bob Graves, who cast the original GRAMMY mold inside his garage in 1958, passed on his legacy to John Billings, his neighbor, in 1983. Billings, also known as "The GRAMMY Man," designed the current model in use, which debuted in 1991.

How Long Does It Take To Make A GRAMMY Trophy?

Billings and his crew work on making GRAMMY trophies throughout the year. Each GRAMMY is handmade, and each GRAMMY Award trophy takes 15 hours to produce. 

Where Are The GRAMMY Trophies Made?

While Los Angeles is the headquarters of the Recording Academy and the GRAMMYs, and regularly the home of the annual GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY trophies are produced at Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado, about 800 miles away from L.A.

Is The GRAMMY Award Made Of Real Gold?

GRAMMY Awards are made of a trademarked alloy called "Grammium" — a secret zinc alloy — and are plated with 24-karat gold.

How Many GRAMMY Trophies Are Made Per Year?

Approximately 600-800 GRAMMY Award trophies are produced per year. This includes both GRAMMY Awards and Latin GRAMMY Awards for the two Academies; the number of GRAMMYs manufactured each year always depends on the number of winners and Categories we award across both award shows.

Fun fact: The two GRAMMY trophies have different-colored bases. The GRAMMY Award has a black base, while the Latin GRAMMY Award has a burgundy base.

Photos: Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images; Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

How Much Does A GRAMMY Weigh?

The GRAMMY trophy weighs approximately 5 pounds. The trophy's height is 9-and-a-half inches. The trophy's width is nearly 6 inches by 6 inches.

What Is The True Value Of A GRAMMY?

Winning a GRAMMY, and even just being nominated for a GRAMMY, has an immeasurable positive impact on the nominated and winning artists. It opens up new career avenues, builds global awareness of artists, and ultimately solidifies a creator’s place in history. Since the GRAMMY Award is the only peer-voted award in music, this means artists are recognized, awarded and celebrated by those in their fields and industries, ultimately making the value of a GRAMMY truly priceless and immeasurable.

In an interview featured in the 2024 GRAMMYs program book, two-time GRAMMY winner Lauren Daigle spoke of the value and impact of a GRAMMY Award. "Time has passed since I got my [first] GRAMMYs, but the rooms that I am now able to sit in, with some of the most incredible writers, producers and performers on the planet, is truly the greatest gift of all." 

"Once you have that credential, it's a different certification. It definitely holds weight," two-time GRAMMY winner Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of the Roots added. "It's a huge stamp as far as branding, businesswise, achievement-wise and in every regard. What the GRAMMY means to people, fans and artists is ever-evolving." 

As Billboard explains, artists will often see significant boosts in album sales and streaming numbers after winning a GRAMMY or performing on the GRAMMY stage. This is known as the "GRAMMY Effect," an industry phenomenon in which a GRAMMY accolade directly influences the music biz and the wider popular culture. 

For new artists in particular, the "GRAMMY Effect" has immensely helped rising creators reach new professional heights. Samara Joy, who won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist at the 2023 GRAMMYs, saw a 989% boost in sales and a 670% increase in on-demand streams for her album Linger Awhile, which won the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album that same night. H.E.R., a former Best New Artist nominee, saw a massive 6,771% increase in song sales for her hit “I Can’t Breathe” on the day it won the GRAMMY for Song Of The Year at the 2021 GRAMMYs, compared to the day before, Rolling Stone reports

Throughout the decades, past Best New Artist winners have continued to dominate the music industry and charts since taking home the GRAMMY gold — and continue to do so to this day. Recently, Best New Artist winners dominated the music industry and charts in 2023: Billie Eilish (2020 winner) sold 2 million equivalent album units, Olivia Rodrigo (2022 winner) sold 2.1 million equivalent album units, and Adele (2009 winner) sold 1.3 million equivalent album units. Elsewhere, past Best New Artist winners have gone on to star in major Hollywood blockbusters (Dua Lipa); headline arena tours and sign major brand deals (Megan Thee Stallion); become LGBTIA+ icons (Sam Smith); and reach multiplatinum status (John Legend).

Most recently, several winners, nominees and performers at the 2024 GRAMMYs saw significant bumps in U.S. streams and sales: Tracy Chapman's classic, GRAMMY-winning single "Fast Car," which she performed alongside Luke Combs, returned to the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time since 1988, when the song was originally released, according to Billboard. Fellow icon Joni Mitchell saw her ‘60s classic “Both Sides, Now,” hit the top 10 on the Digital Song Sales chart, Billboard reports.

In addition to financial gains, artists also experience significant professional wins as a result of their GRAMMY accolades. For instance, after she won the GRAMMY for Best Reggae Album for Rapture at the 2020 GRAMMYs, Koffee signed a U.S. record deal; after his first GRAMMYs in 2014, Kendrick Lamar saw a 349% increase in his Instagram following, Billboard reports. 

Visit our interactive GRAMMY Awards Journey page to learn more about the GRAMMY Awards and the voting process behind the annual ceremony.

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.
Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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Beyond Country: All The Genres Beyoncé Explores On 'Cowboy Carter'

On 'COWBOY CARTER,' Beyoncé is free. Her eighth studio album is an unbridled exploration of musical genres — from country to opera and R&B — that celebrates the fluidity of music and her Texas roots.

GRAMMYs/Apr 3, 2024 - 08:50 pm

"Genres are a funny little concept, aren't they? In theory, they have a simple definition that's easy to understand. But in practice, well, some may feel confined."

With those words, spoken on "SPAGHETTII" by Linda Martell — the first commercially successful Black female artist in country music and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry solo — Beyoncé provides a proxy response to her original call on Instagram 10 days before COWBOY CARTER was released: "This ain’t a Country album. This is a “Beyoncé” album." 

She delivered on that promise with intent. Through a mix of homage and innovation, Beyoncé's latest is a 27-track testament to her boundless musicality and draws  from a rich aural palette. In addition to its country leanings, COWBOY CARTER includes everything from the soulful depths of gospel to the intricate layers of opera. 

Beyoncé's stance is clear: she's not here to fit into a box. From the heartfelt tribute in "BLACKBIIRD" to the genre-blurring tracks like "YA YA," Beyoncé uses her platform to elevate the conversation around genre, culture, and history. She doesn't claim country music; she illuminates its roots and wings, celebrating the Black artists who've shaped its essence.

The collective album proves no genre was created or remains in isolation. It's a concept stoked in the words of the opening track, "AMERIICAN REQUIEM" when Beyonce reflects, "Nothing really ends / For things to stay the same they have to change again." For country, and all popular genres of music to exist they have to evolve. No sound ever stays the same.

COWBOY CARTER's narrative arc, from "AMERICAN REQUIEM" to "AMEN," is a journey through American music's heart and soul, paying tribute to its origins while charting a path forward. This album isn't just an exploration of musical heritage; it's an act of freedom and a declaration of the multifaceted influence of Black culture on American pop culture.

Here's a closer look at some of some of the musical genres touched on in act ii, the second release of an anticipated trilogy by Beyoncé, the most GRAMMY-winning artist of all-time: 

Country 

Before COWBOY CARTER was even released, Beyoncé sparked critical discussion over the role of herself and all Black artists in country music. Yet COWBOY CARTER doesn't stake a claim on country music. Rather, it spotlights the genre through collaborations with legends and modern icons, while championing the message that country music, like all popular American music and culture, has always been built on the labor and love of Black lives. 

It's a reckoning acknowledged not only by Beyoncé's personal connection to country music growing up in Texas, but the role Black artists have played in country music rooted in gospel, blues, and folk music. 

Enter The World Of Beyoncé

Country legends, Dolly Parton ("DOLLY P", "JOLENE," and "TYRANT"), Willie Nelson ("SMOKE HOUR" and "SMOKE HOUR II"), and Martell ("SPAGHETTII and "THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW") serve mainly as spoken-word collaborators, becoming MCs for Queen Bey. Some of the most prolific country music legends receiving her in a space where she has been made to feel unwelcome in music (most notably with the racism surrounding her 2016 CMA performance of "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks) provides a prolific release of industry levies. Martell, a woman who trod the dark country road before Bey, finally getting her much-deserved dues appears as an almost pre-ordained and poetic act of justice. 

"BLACKBIIRD," a version of the Beatles' civil rights era song of encouragement and hope for the struggle of Black women is led softly by Beyoncé, backed by a quartet of Black female contemporary country songbirds: Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts. 

Beyoncé holds space for others, using the power of her star to shine a light on those around her. These inclusions rebuke nay-sayers who quipped pre-release that she was stealing attention from other Black country artists. It also flies in the faces that shunned and discriminated against her, serving as an example of how to do better. The reality that Beyoncé wasn't stealing a spotlight, but building a stage for fellow artists, is a case study in how success for one begets success for others. 

Read more: 8 Country Crossover Artists You Should Know: Ray Charles, The Beastie Boys, Cyndi Lauper & More

Gospel, Blues, & Folk (American Roots)

As is Beyoncé's way, she mounts a case for country music with evidence to back up her testimony. She meanders a course through a sequence of styles that serve as the genre's foundation: gospel, blues, and folk music.

"AMERIICAN REQUIEM" and "AMEN" bookend the album with gospel-inspired lyrics and choir vocals. The opener sets up a reflective sermon buoyed by  the sounds of a reverberating church organ, while the closer, with its introspective lyrics, pleads for mercy and redemption. The main verse on "AMEN", "This house was built with blood and bone/ The statues they made were beautiful/ But they were lies of stone," is complemented by a blend of piano, and choral harmonies. 

Hymnal references are interlaced throughout the album, particularly in songs like "II HANDS II HEAVEN" and in the lyrical nuances on "JUST FOR FUN." In the later track, Beyoncé's voice soars with gratitude in a powerful delivery of the lines, "Time heals everything / I don't need anything / Hallelujah, I pray to her." 

The gospel-inspired, blues-based "16 CARRIAGES" reflects the rich history of country songs borrowing from the blues while simultaneously calling back to songs sung by field laborers in the colonial American South. "Sixteen dollars, workin' all day/ Ain't got time to waste, I got art to make" serves as the exhausted plea of an artist working tirelessly long hours in dedication to a better life. 

Rhiannon Giddens, a celebrated musician-scholar, two-time GRAMMY winner, and Pulitzer Prize recipient, infuses "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" with her profound understanding of American folk, country, and blues. She plays the viola and banjo, the latter tracing its origins to Sub-Saharan West Africa and the lutes of ancient Egypt. Through her skilled plucking and bending of the strings, Giddens bridges the rich musical heritage of Africa and the South with the soul of country, blues, and folk music.

Pop, Funk, Soul & Rock 'n' Roll 

All in, Beyoncé is a pop star who is wrestling with labels placed on her 27-year career in COWBOY CARTER. Fittingly, she brings in two other pop artists known for swimming in the brackish water between country and pop, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone. Her intentional inclusion of two artists who have blurred genres without much cross-examination begs the question, Why should Beyoncé's sound be segregated to a different realm? 

On "YA YA" Linda Martell returns as the listener's sonic sentinel, introducing the track like a lesson plan: "This particular tune stretches across a range of genres. And that’s what makes it a unique listening experience." The tune sinks into the strummed chords of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" before leaping into a fiery dance track that features reimagined lyrics from the Beach Boys, with soulful vocal flourishes and breaks that show the throughline connection between '60s era rock, funk, and pop music.

Robert Randolph lends his hands on "16 CARRIAGES" with a funk-infused grapple on his pedal-steel guitar. It's a style he honed through his early years touring and recording with his family band and later in his career as an in-demand collaborator working with names including the Allman Brothers, and Norah Jones

The lesson is solidified as the album transitions into an interlude on "OH LOUISIANA," featuring a sped-up sample of a classic track by Chuck Berry. This moment emphasizes the pop superstar's nod to civil rights era music history, spotlighting a controversial artist celebrated for his pioneering contributions to rock 'n' roll. (It's a part of music history Beyoncé knows well, after starring as Etta James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, a veiled biopic of the legendary Chicago label Chess Records.)

Classical & Opera

Opera was missing from many listeners' Beyoncé Bingo card, but didn't surprise those that know her background. Beyoncé was trained for over a decade starting at an early age by her voice teacher David Lee Brewer, a retired opera singer who once lived with the Knowles family. 

COWBOY CARTER gives sing-along fans a 101 opera class with "DAUGHTER." In Italian, Beyoncé sings passages from the 1783 Italian opera "Caro Mio Ben," composed by Giuseppe Tommaso Giovanni Giordani. The aria is a classic piece of vocal training that fittingly shows off her full range — taking us back to the earliest days of her vocal teachings.

Hip-Hop & R&B

Midway through the album on "SPAGHETTII" Beyoncé announces, "I ain't no regular singer, now come get everythin' you came for," landing right where expectations have confined her: in the throes of a romping beat, experimenting with sounds that blend hip-hop with R&B and soul. The track notably highlights the talent of Nigerian American singer/rapper Shaboozey, who also shows up to the rodeo on "SWEET HONEY BUCKIN'" brandishing his unique mix of hip-hop, folk-pop, and country music. 

Beyoncé worked with longtime collaborator Raphael Saadiq on this album, a career legend in the R&B industry, who lends his mark to several tracks on which he wrote, produced, and played multiple instruments. Beyoncé also utilizes the Louisiana songwriter Willie Jones on "JUST FOR FUN," an artist who draws on a contemporary blend of country, Southern rap, and R&B in the hymnal ballad. 

The violin-heavy "TYRANT" and "SPAGHETTII" both underscore hip-hop's long love affair with the classical string instrument (See: Common's "Be," and Wu Tang Clan's "Reunited" as the tip of that particular iceberg) with a blend of soulful R&B lyrics paired with beat-based instrumentalization. 

In a world quick to draw lines and label sounds, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER stands as a vibrant mosaic of musical influence and innovation. Ultimately, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER isn't seeking anyone's acceptance. As a Texan once told she didn't belong, her critical response claps back at this exclusion.  It's also a reminder that in the hands of a true artist, music is limitless.

Run The World: Why Beyoncé Is One Of The Most Influential Women In Music History

2001 Latin GRAMMY winners pose at the Conga Room
2001 Latin GRAMMY winners pose at the Conga Room.

Photo: Courtesy of the Conga Room

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L.A.’s Historic Conga Room Closes With A Final Party Celebrating Latin Music Excellence

The L.A. Live venue will officially close its doors at the end of March, after two decades of supporting live Latin music (and the Latin GRAMMYs). Ahead of their farewell party, the Conga Room's founder and staff discuss its history and significance.

GRAMMYs/Mar 26, 2024 - 01:24 pm

Los Angeles' legendary Conga Room is closing its doors, but will not go quietly into the night.

The 25-year-old venue has been home to countless Latin music performances and celebrations — including the 2001 Latin GRAMMYs — and will host its final event on March 27. The official, invitation-only closing celebration will feature a performance by Puerto Rican salsa star Gilberto Santa Rosa and the Conga Kids, as well appearances from Jimmy Smits and Paul Rodriguez, both of whom were investors in the space. 

First opened in 1999 on Wilshire Boulevard by real estate entrepreneur and Latin music lover Brad Gluckstein, the Conga Room drew investors like Jennifer Lopez and Sheila E — all of whom were committed to the venue’s vision of being an upscale nightclub devoted to live Latin music and dancing. In both its Miracle Mile location and its later space at L.A. Live, the club attracted an absolutely staggering lineup of talent, including Celia Cruz, Buena Vista Social Club, Tito Puente, Carlos Santana, Alejandro Fernández, Fito Paez, Jerry Rivera, Bad Bunny, and Maluma. The venue also hosted performances from non-Latinx artists like Prince, Ed Sheeran, Lenny Kravitz, Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, and Avicii.

"I saw Prince perform in venues the world over, but his very first performance at the Conga Room was magical," says talk show host Tavis Smiley. "Of all the times I witnessed my friend on stage, from Madison Square Garden to Montreux, the Conga Room remains my favorite Prince performance."

Gluckstein says that the Conga Room was able to draw such great talent not just because it was one of the only major venues that leaned into Latin music in the United States, but because there was a mutual respect between the artists and the venue. 

"We couldn’t compete financially with [Goldenvoice or AEG], but we were able to bring an incredible amount of talent to the venue," he tells GRAMMY.com. "I was talking to Jerry Rivera’s agent the other day and I said, ‘Jerry just played in front of 10,000 people in Venezuela. Help me understand why playing in front of 1,000 people at the Conga room was so important.’ He went on for 10 minutes about what the room meant to these artists and the way we respected them, the sound system, and the way they were treated. The fan engagement, too, plus the fact that there was never really a comparable room anywhere else, even in New York."

"We provided a stage and a voice for acts that didn’t have a way of getting to their audience here in L.A., because no radio stations were playing their kind of music," says Marcella Cuonzo, the venue’s publicist. "For reggaeton, for example, the Conga Room was a pioneer in the movement around 2010. Radio wasn’t playing that music, but the Conga Room took a gamble on the sound because they saw its vision." 

The Conga Room was also the first venue in Los Angeles to host a wide-range of Cuban musical talent starting in the mid- to late ‘90s. "We had probably 50 shows," says Gluckstein. "We got everything from Bebo Valdés to [Diego] El Cigala to Pablo Milanés, who played his first show ever in the U.S. at our venue. He’s the Bob Dylan of Cuba. We brought Los Van Van, who’s probably the most famous salsa or timba group in the history of Cuba. They couldn’t play in Miami, because Miami wouldn’t allow Cuban music, so the GRAMMYs gave them their trophy [for Best Salsa Performance] at the Conga Room."  

The Latin GRAMMY Awards moved from L.A. from Miami in 2001, and the ceremony was set to take place at the Shrine Auditorium on Sept. 11. That telecast was understandably canceled following the tragic events of that day in New York, and rather than rescheduling the whole event, winners were announced at a press conference on Oct. 30 at the Conga Room. Alejandro Sanz came away with four awards, including Album Of The Year, and Juanes took home three Latin GRAMMYs, including Best New Artist.

"I remember Celia Cruz giving a beautiful speech that night in Spanish, thanking the firefighters and policemen and saying ‘this is for you, but also a little bit for us," says Gluckstein. "In later years, once we were at L.A. Live, we hosted the Latin GRAMMY nominations several times. I have footage of Andy Garcia doing them on-stage with Jimmy Smits." 

The Conga Room is closing now because, Gluckstein says, it just seems like the right time. "The pandemic, of course, played a role," he explains. "And I think the enormity of AEG and Live Nation, with how fierce the competition is, all of that has made buying talent much more expensive and has made talent more selective in terms of what's the best economic opportunity for them." 

There’s also the rising success of Conga Kids, the venue’s non-profit arm, to consider. A county-wide organization with about 100 employees, Conga Kids reaches roughly 50,000 elementary-aged kids in largely under-resourced communities every year, using dance and music from the Afro-Diaspora like salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggaeton, Charleston, and hip-hop to promote social and emotional well-being, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusivity. 

Though fans and artists will undoubtedly miss the space, energy, and community the Conga Room provided, Gluckstein says the venue’s closure doesn’t have to be sad. Instead, he says, it can be celebratory. 

"We accomplished so much," he says. "Now, the venue will just have to live on in the hearts and minds of people, instead of as a brick and mortar space." 

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