Latin Grammy. “We have to be an inclusive body”: Manuel Abud

As a child, Manuel Abud listened to Brazilian music and The Beatles as part of his family daily life, they were to his father’s liking, and it was also a good way to learn to speak Portuguese and English. “I learned Portuguese more or less, I did learn English,” he says in the interview with MILLENNIUM.

Now as CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, he listens to all the rhythms as part of his responsibility; he assures that he likes everyone, although “Everyone has their time and space, Well, at a dance party you’re not going to put on an opera, you put on a merengue”.

in May 2021in the midst of a pandemic, Abud became president of the Academy, so it has been difficult to carry out the task it acquired; However, he highlights that confinement “like everyone else, has left me with a great learning”: knowing the things that can be improved.

Manuel Abud | Special

Manuel Abud | Special

A core point of his philosophy as a member and president of the Academy is that it be “an inclusive body; if a member feels that they have not been represented, it is my responsibility to give them space, listen to them and adjust what needs to be adjusted.”

Next week for the first time he will be responsible for the delivery of the Latin Grammy in person, after last year it was done with certain limitations. He is excited and very excited about the musical party, in which he anticipates “there will be changes and surprises”, but he is also calm that the members of the organization are happy and have not expressed the intention of boycotting, as has happened on other occasions.

You came to the presidency of the Latin Grammy in the midst of a pandemic, how has the experience been?

I am very honored, it is a position that never ceases to amaze me in how much it means and what a great responsibility it is.Every day that I am doing something I realize new things and of new challenges, which he took on with humility, but also with a sense of responsibility and dedication.

And indeed these are complicated, difficult times, but that also gives you the opportunity to rethink many things; For example, in the delivery of the Latin Grammy that we did in a pandemic without an audience and that we only concentrated on the gala; we were able to do very different things, like traveling to different places, because we had special participations of artists in iconic places in their countries.

The pandemic has been a great experience, and like all of us it has brought us many messages, many lessons, but also a reminder of how important music is, and to me how important our membership is and what we do.

Thalia | Courtesy

Thalia | Courtesy

What’s coming this year for the Latin Grammy?

First, we return to the face-to-face format; the year was limited, we canceled some events. This year we increased some and we are expanding the others in their production level; I am trying to improve the guest experience. We have always focused on making the content spectacular and we have achieved it, but we have to work on making it better, an experience for those who are there.

The entire Latin Grammy week begins with the Leading Ladie’s event, with an expanded production, with much more work in terms of the people we are honoring. For the first time we have the performance of the first new artists, the philosophy of this event is that all nominees for Best New Artist have the opportunity to perform on a Latin Grammy stage; So, we are going to do an afternoon of music where these nominees are invited to sing a song; and if everyone accepts it will be 11 songs. In the evening we will have the Circle of Engineer Producers, for which we are also preparing something special.

On Wednesday we have the delivery of the special Awards in the morning; later, at night, the Person of the Year Gala, which on this occasion is Marco Antonio Solís, and the guests will be singing their songs; besides that for this event we also have several surprises.

On Thursday we start with our premiere which is also going to have more music and production values ​​and then the show that we’re really excited about what we’re doing.

You talked about equity and diversity in music; It is more and more constant to find a category with more than three nominees and sometimes they are very diverse.

Marco Antonio Solis | Special

Marco Antonio Solis | Special

I love that, because it shows that we are a living Academy, that we are in step with the times; music is alive and we are always evolving, the characteristic of a living being is that it evolves, moves and is dynamic, that is how music is and that is how we want to be. The fact that our nominations are so diverse and inclusive, me is very excited because it is a sign that our Academy is with the times and that our voters are recognizing more and more, let’s say other genres that had been more difficult to have recognition.

So, I feel very happy with the nominations, they have received us very well, both the membership itself, because membership is you vote as a member, and then you will see your only vote reflected in those 4,000 who vote. And I can say that the membership has been very happy, this year I haven’t had the typical criticism and calls for boycotts and all that kind of stuff.

As a member of the Academy who has experienced threats of a boycott of the awards, what do these attitudes generate in the institution?

My responsibility as an executive and as an Academy is that we have to be an inclusive body; If a member feels that they have not been represented, it is my responsibility to give them space, listen to them and adjust what needs to be adjusted, because we are not perfect, nor do we pretend to be.

At the end of the day we are a union organization, a group of musicians; If someone raises their hand and says: ‘I am not being taken into account enough’, my responsibility is to listen to them; I’m not going to get into controversy. If they want to take another path, it is their own freedom, my responsibility is that they be heard and try to make them feel included.

How much empathy do young people have with the Academy?

Quite a lot, I’ve been glad to see that young musicians continue to get excited about the potential of having a Latin Grammy. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to the new artist nominees and it’s really exciting to talk to them and feel how excited they are to be a part of this celebration and get involved. We are in a very good place, this year in our Best New Artist, literally we even have minors.

The Academy generates benefits: I support young students with the María Greever scholarship, how do you find the Foundation and what will you do to promote more talent?

The Foundation has a fundamental role in the Academy, and our mission as an organization is to seek, nurture, celebrate, find and enhance music and its creators around the world. The first word of our mission is to nurture, it is to continue creating this wonderful ecosystem that is music, where you give more opportunities to a greater number of people.

I believe that talent is distributed in the world in an equitable and general way, it is the opportunity that is not given; I believe that to the extent that we can give more opportunities to those who have that talent, we will have more characters in music. What you are going to see are redoubled efforts to increase the number of scholarships, and the way the process is published and publicized. This year you are going to see a more notorious participation of the Foundation in the Latin Grammy show and I cannot say more because it is a surprise.

Music is your faithful companion, but what music do you listen to?

I was lucky that music has always been present in our house, since I was a child it always was; my dad loved the Brazilian and the Beatles; We both use them to learn languages, unfortunately I never learned Portuguese well, but English I did. Music was always present, we even had a record store.

I like music in general, and I’m not saying that now as president of the Academy, since I was a child I listened to complete operas and I like jazz; each genre has its space and its moment. I can tell you that I hear everything, all the nominated product; some with a little more time and space, but I hear it all, because I think that’s what I owe the membership. I want to get to Vegas and tell all the nominees that I’ve heard of your product. Yes, there are genres that are easier for me to understand than others, because finally what it is about in my function –not as a fan– understanding the artist’s proposal, who can present it to you at a vallenato rhythm with an urban flow or with tango chords.

Our role is to understand the proposal and put it to the consideration of the members in the best possible way; I try not to privilege one genre or one artist over another.

What is your commitment to music?

I want to do my best so that this Academy is representative, supports Latin music, gives a space and a voice to those who have a harder time finding it, because today anyone can have it. Our role is to give opportunities to some, recognize others, those who have achieved that level of excellence; and also help them recognize themselves. Being the organizer of this wonderful ecosystem that is music is a great privilege.

It is clear that music is your main passion, do you have others?

I love gastronomy, I like to travel with my family and we enjoy discovering different foods and experiences. I have a wonderful family, I have three children; We make some very nice trips together.

What do you like about Mexican?

Everything, I am Yucaturco; My dad’s family is from Yucatecan, so I love the southeast, I really like the sea and everything that has to do with it. I live in Miami, Veracruz food is one of my favorites, but we get into everything. We like to enjoy music everywhere.


Mexicans at the Latin Grammy

**Thalia will be one of the hosts alongside Luis Fonsi, Annita and Laura Pausini at the award ceremony to be held at the Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

**Amanda Miguel will be recognized with the Excellence Award for her career. Although of Argentine origin, she recognizes that her career was made in Mexico.

**Abraham Laboriel will receive the Board of Directors Award for his outstanding career as one of the most outstanding musicians who have made history with the bass.

**Marco Antonio Solís will receive the Latin Grammy and a tribute as Person of the Year, because through music he has contributed to various social causes.

**Édgar Barrera is nominated in 9 categories thanks to the fact that his inspiration has led him to stand out in voices such as Maluma, Camilo, Marc Anthony and Grupo Firme.


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Latin Grammy. “We have to be an inclusive body”: Manuel Abud