Angela Alvarez told EFE that he began writing songs in 1942 in Cuba with the dream of being an artist, but they had to spend eight decades to release their first album, make a documentary and also win the nomination as Best New Artist at the Latin Grammy Awards.
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Cheerful and with a great voice, energy and lucidity, Álvarez says that she feels “daydreaming”, but she is already preparing the dress that she will wear at the gala on November 22 in Las Vegasaccompanied by her grandson Carlos Jose Alvarez.
The also composer explains to EFE that he grew up watching his grandmother sing and thought that this was typical of the cuban families because her father is also a musician, and he didn’t realize that “Nana”, as they call her, was a “frustrated singer”.
“I thought that everyone had a Cuban grandmother who sang and played the guitar,” says the percussionist.
DISCOVERED BY HER GRANDSON
A family project to record her singing her compositions revealed to her the richness in lyrics, melody and voice of her grandmother, and commenting on the subject with a friend, she asked if she was waiting for her to “die” to make it known.
Álvarez, who is a composer for the cinema and the TVrelates that the desire began and he immediately summoned his grandmother to the recording studios in Los Angeles.
What he began as an album became a documentary, a first presentation of the grandmother before the public in the historic avalon theater Hollywood and also a Latin Grammy nomination.
Along the way, the Cuban-American actor and director joined this film project Andy Garcia and by 2021 “Nana” had already released the documentary “Miss Angela” and her first and only album.
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“She had everything in mind: the lyrics and the melodies and used the guitar to compose (…), I just made the arrangements,” he says. Carlos Jose about the album.
The face of “Nana” is sad when she says that her father did not agree with her idea of singing, but she remembers that in the midst of frustration she kept “a flame” of hope.
Her songs, mostly boleros and danzones, were inspired by her love for her husband and for Cuba, and also denote the sadness of the exile and separation during the sixties of her four children and her husband, when they fled separately from the island.
“I would play the guitar and sing and that would lift my spirits and I would forget about it,” says Álvarez.
Showing his notebooks with pasted handwritten manuscripts, he goes through the happy moments before the triumph of the cuban revolution of 1959, but also the fear that their children would be indoctrinated under the Fidel Castro’s socialist regime.
She says that her Cuba never forgets her and that she would like to return, but she fears that everything has changed. “I don’t know if I’m going to see the Cuba that I left behind,” she laments.
“When I repeat one of my songs, that I sing and that I composed, I close my eyes, I can go to Cuba,” he says.
Her grandson clarifies that the project, which began five years ago, “was done with her and not for her.”
“Nobody has that, or sings like her, but I didn’t know. I knew she had a nice voice, I knew she sang, I knew she wrote, but I didn’t appreciate how amazing it was,” she laments.
BOLEROS BETWEEN REGUETON
Carlos José says that when he began his professional career as a musician and had to face composition, he realized how “difficult” it was and the “gift” that his grandmother had.
She highlights the “courage” that she had to enter a studio at 90 years of age and says that she realized that it was an inspiring story that could not be left alone in the family and had to be told. That’s where the documentary was born, she says.
“My wish is that my generation and younger generations sit down and talk to their grandparents and ask them, they all have dreams, we all have dreams,” he stresses.
At the age of 95, which she turned last June, Ángela Álvarez competes for the Latin Grammy with a dozen young revelations, mostly from urban music: Sofía Campos, Cande and Paulo, Clarissa, Silvana Estrada, Pol Granch, Nabález, Tiare, Vale, Yahritza and her essence, and Nicole Zignago.
Álvarez won the nomination with an album of 15 songs with titles like “How beautiful is Cuba” Y “My great love” Y “aimless road“, which his grandson discovered among more than forty compositions that he had in a notebook.
The bolero is “something that you express, that you feel and if you are in love you write”.
She says that her ability to compose is a gift from God and that she herself is surprised because it is not difficult for her.
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At 95, Cuban Ángela Álvarez arrives at the Grammys after a long dream