95-year-old grandmother gets a Latin Grammy nomination thanks to her grandson

When she was 14 years old, Angela Álvarez had already composed her first song and had mastered the piano and guitar; however, ever since she can remember, she has been passionate about music. She always dreamed of being a recognized artist.

Alvarez was born and raised in Cuba but, at the age of 35 and with her husband Orlando and their four children – three boys and a girl – she decided to flee the island when Fidel Castro came to power in 1959.

The failed attempt occurred in May 1962, according to the newspaper Washington Post, since the Cuban authorities forced Orlando to stay and they argued against her lack of documents to leave her country of origin. It was thus that Álvarez made the “difficult decision” –according to the aforementioned medium– of letting her children go to the US alone.

The youngest of Angela and Orlando’s children was four years old, while the oldest was 15. “It was very hard for me,” he told the post.

After several months trying to reach US soil, Álvarez managed to enter the city of Miami, in Florida; however, she did not meet the requirements to see her children who were housed in an orphanage in the community of Pueblo, Colorado, as part of a state welfare program.

After two years of absence and after working as part of the cleaning staff at a Pueblo bank, Álvarez managed to spend time with his children and share happiness with them through music; and even invited several children from the orphanage to endow them with hope with the same art.

It was not until 1966 that Orlando arrived in the US and the family settled in a decent home in the community of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Everything was going from strength to strength until, in 1977, Álvarez’s husband died of cancer at the age of 53. In 1999, her mother also lost one of her daughters to the same condition.

Despite the challenges, Angela turned to music to get ahead.

Almost a decade ago, Carlos José Álvarez, one of Angela’s grandchildren, decided to record his grandmother’s songs. Carlos, who is a talented composer, grew up listening to her sing and assured that her career was completely influenced by her taste in said art.

Carlos, 42, decided to get down to work and professionally recorded his grandmother, whom he said has an “angelic and moving” voice. The album contained 15 tracks and was titled “Angela Álvarez”.

The project escalated and became a documentary that the Cuban-American actor and friend of Carlos, Andy García, promoted when he heard the story of the nonagenarian. The film “Miss Angela” chronicles Alvarez’s life and her love of music and her ambition to become a singer at her then 91-year-old age.

And that dream came true! Well, in September of this year, the Latin Grammy Awards announced their nominations and Angela Álvarez heads the list in the “Best New Artist” category, along with Sofía Campos, Pol Granch, Cande y Paulo, Clarissa, Nabález and many others.

“I thought it wasn’t true,” said the 95-year-old grandmother, who will attend the musical ceremony on November 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, along with her grandson, with whom she already has a performance scheduled.

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95-year-old grandmother gets a Latin Grammy nomination thanks to her grandson