An Estradense at the Grammys

Next November 17, Henry Villalobos hopes to be in Las Vegas. “We are trying to organize the whole family to go,” he admits excitedly. The musician of Venezuelan origin, of Argentine nationality and settled in A Estrada for two years, has that day marked in red on the calendar. For the first time in his long musical career, Villalobos is nominated for a Latin Grammy. He will compete in the best arrangement category for his work with his friend Daniel Barón in the song “Son da Loma”.

The Estradense recognizes that the mere fact of being nominated is a prize in itself and more so considering that they were competing with a classic salsa song. “In general, when the best arrangement is awarded, salsa arrangements are not given much consideration. However, I think we did something different, with a different structure and form than traditional salsa songs. In this case they realized the work behind the song, that artistic part”, he explains when talking about a song they were working on for about a year, when it is normal to dedicate about three months. However, the man from Estrada predicts that it will be difficult to win the prize, competing against artists of the stature of Jorge Drexler or Armando Manzanero.

The musician remembers that this song had been in the drawer for a long time, until, together with the Venezuelan producer Dani Barón, he put it on the table when he worked for the salsa artist Pedro Alonso. “We decided to work on it but without hurry. The times were lengthening because we didn’t have much time as we were both working on other projects, until we finally finished it”. Now it is in the hands of a jury of experts, not by voting like other categories.

The life of Henry Villalobos has always been linked to music. He has worked with artists such as Pimpinela, Carlos Baute, Ricardo Montaner, Paz Martínez, Tony Succar, Nelson Arrieta or Gilberto Santa Rosa, among others. “I was always studying. It was four years at the conservatory and then I continued with private teachers. The last one marked me a lot. His name is Manuel Fraga, a jazz pianist in Buenos Aires. I owe him a lot. He was my guide and the one who opened my head a bit, ”he recalls.

He arrived with his family just before the pandemic

Henry Villalobos was born in the Venezuelan town of Maracaibo, later moving to Caracas at the age of 23. In 2004 he met his Argentine wife, so he decided to move to Buenos Aires. All the years that he spent working in music he was creating contact, among them Ernesto Teruel. “There the situation was a bit convulsed at the political level, but through him the possibility of coming to us in 2020 to work with some offers here arose. However, the pandemic came and radically changed all our plans. I stayed from one day to another with nothing but we were already here. Now things have returned to normal and I have already returned to work with some orchestras”. In A Estrada, Villalobos also found a space for his music, with the Lucía Azurmendi Group, “a very interesting and beautiful conceptual project” and collaborates with Obradoiro Carlos Barruso. Throughout this process, the musician and his family found a home. “It has brought us good luck to Estrada. Here we have made very good friends and they shook hands with us. My wife found a job in Sala Gradín to support the house while I couldn’t work. People in general here are great and we love the pace of life. We are very happy. In another place it would have been another story. This started in a stressful way but then everything was reversed and now everything smiles at us. We are delighted”.

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An Estradense at the Grammys