A 95-year-old Cuban, nominated for Best New Artist at the Latin Grammys

Ángela Álvarez was discovered by one of her grandchildren, a music producer, who encouraged her to record her first bolero album last year. Now her grandmother will compete with a dozen young people dedicated to reggaeton

Our protagonist has confessed that she had had a passion for music since she was little, when she sang at family gatherings with her aunts in her Cuba native. He then learned to play the guitar and at the age of 15 he began to compose his own songs.

He dreamed of dedicating himself to music

So Ángela began to dream of dedicating herself to music, but was met with opposition from her father who advised her: «No. You sing for the family, but not for the world».

Since she loved her father so much, she tried to erase that dream from her mind, but “there was always a little place in my heart that I couldn’t forget,” says Álvarez without resentment.

He put his dream in the background and found happiness in his marriage and in his family: he had four children -one of his daughters died of cancer-, and Today she is a grandmother of nine and a great-grandmother of fifteen.

discovery of his grandson

However, he did not forget about music. She continued singing and composing songs that he transcribed in some notebooks. She did it whenever something excited her. Then she felt the desire to express and capture her feelings in the form of emotional boleros.

She acknowledges that her ability to compose is a gift from God and sometimes he is surprised because it is not difficult for him.

One day his grandson Carlos Jose, who is also professionally dedicated to music, asked him to show him the songs he had written in his notebooks. Although they were already worn by the passage of time, he was fascinated and surprised by the songs that his grandmother had composed.

Recording of their first album

So Carlos José started the recording project for Ángela’s album, but due to lack of time and resources he delayed it. Until a producer friend of his asked him bluntly, “Are you waiting for her to die? […] Whatever you need, let’s do it.”

They contacted top musicians, some of them winners or candidates for the grammys, and they began to record the disc. Carlos José highlights the courage she had to enter a recording studio at her age and how well she did it.

Ángela Álvarez recording one of her songs.

Facebook: Angela Alvarez

Finally, from those old notebooks came the 15 songs that make up your first disk namesake, for which the Cuban singer-songwriter received her first and unexpected Grammy nominationlatinos last September 20 in the category Best New Artist. There he will compete with young reggaeton authors.

The album contains titles such as “Qué linda es Cuba”, “Mi gran amor”, “Camino sin directed”, “Romper el yugo” and “Añoranzas” and was released independently (via Nana Album LLC) in June 2021.

Inspirational story for all

Carlos José is satisfied with his work and now recognizes that this is an inspiring story that could not be left alone in the family and had to be told.

“I hope everything this project inspires young people to sit down and talk with their elderly relatives. Ask them questions. Ask them about the dreams they had ever. They will be surprised at what they discover.”

“If we don’t ask them, they won’t tell us, and their wisdom and dreams will go with them.”

Regarding how Ángela Álvarez ended up with a Latin Grammy nomination in this category, her grandson explains that it was the idea of ​​the producer who told her: “Do you know how appropriate and incredible it would be if she were nominated for best new artist at her age? Do you know the message that would send to the world?

Angela’s sentimental diary

Her songs have great musical quality but are also like a sentimental diary of their author, for whom music is the language of the soul. And in his songs he captures his long life, in which there has been sweet momentsbut also a lot pain.

In fact, May 1962 It was a key moment in his life. So she had to resign herself to seeing how her four youngest children left Cuba alone for Miamiafter the revolution and the communist drift that the island was experiencing, welcomed within the framework of the so-called “Operation Peter Pan”

Exit from Cuba

Angela managed to travel to the United States a few months later, but it took her years to get her children back to live under the same roof, because she needed a job with enough income to support them all and that was not easy.

«When they gave me the departure flight from Havana to Miami, when the plane took flight, I was sitting at the window and I looked out the window and I saw my Cuba down there. I said ‘Oh, Cuba, how beautiful you are! When will I see you again? And I’m not gone yet,'” she recalls.

Despite not being able to speak English, she found jobs: picking tomatoes in the fields or cleaning offices at night. While her children were in an orphanage, she was able to see them every week.

Family reunification in Mexico

A few years later and thanks to a friend, Angela managed to find a job for her husband. They contacted him then President of Mexico, Adolfo López Mateos, who helped Cuban families leave the island.

So they took him out of Cuba and gave him a job in the state of Veracruz. At that time she picked up her children and they were all found in Mexico.

Angela Alvarez
Angela Alvarez at her home. For her, the family is the axis of her life.

Facebook: Angela Alvarez

That family reunification closed the wound created by the family separation, but not the one opened by the exile and for the Longing for Cubaan island to which he has never returned and to which he has dedicated many of his songs.

Source of inspiration

Certainly the figure of his country of origin is manifest in his songs and lyrics, such as in “Un canto a mi Cuba”, but also in others such as “Añoranzas” or “Romper el yugo”:

“Oh, eternal God, extend your hand, help Cuba to be reborn, calm anger, appease hatred, give freedom to Cubans.”

But Ángela, in addition to suffering exile and separation from her family for years, also suffered the death of her husband in 1977 (which inspired the song «Camino sin camino») and then that of his daughter Mariaboth due to cancer.

In addition, his children were always a source of inspiration. He composed the song “In my garden” for them and he wrote a song for her deceased daughter that bears her name: “Maria”.

Attendance at the Latin Grammys

Ultimately, what began as his grandson’s job of preserving the unpublished musical legacy of his grandmotherhas become an exciting project.

Together they have recorded the album, they have made the documentary “Miss Angela” thanks to the collaboration of the actor Andy Garciaalso Cuban, who also offered him a role in the Hollywood movie “Father of the Bride” and, finally, they have achieved a Latin Grammy nomination for best new artist.

Now it only remains to be seen if the next November 17 Ángela Álvarez gets that Grammy in the category of Best New Artist and follows in the footsteps of her compatriot, Ibrahim Ferrer, who won that award at the first edition of the Latin Grammy, in the year 2000at 73 years old.

In that video you can hear his enthusiasm and happiness for the nomination

We wish to give thanks to the author of this write-up for this remarkable content

A 95-year-old Cuban, nominated for Best New Artist at the Latin Grammys