Manuel Abud became the CEO of the Latin Recording Academy in August 2021 after joining the organization in 2019 as Executive Director of Operations. With an impressive career of more than 25 years in the entertainment sector, he was CEO of Azteca América; he held prominent management positions at NBC Universal, where he spent more than 14 years as president of the Telemundo Station Group, president and general manager of television stations in the Los Angeles and Dallas markets, and president of Telemundo Cable; and, previously, he was president of CBS Telenoticias.
–How do you feel a few days before the delivery of the Latin Grammy 2022?
–Imagine… On the one hand, with tremendous emotion and, on the other hand, of course, with a lot of nerves, but I have a wonderful team and there is a lot of music and we are very excited about what is coming.
– How will the delivery be? Do they already consider it in the sanitary ‘normality’?
-Exact. We celebrate the complete return of what we want to call normality, we are expanding the number of events that we are going to have. In fact, we are going to have 7 official events, starting Latin Grammy Week on Tuesday, November 15, where we will have 3 events, one to celebrate the women in the industry, another to celebrate all of our Best New Artist nominees and the last of that day to celebrate producers and engineers. Then, on Wednesday morning, we have the Special Awards, which are given to artists for their entire career, and at night we recognize our Person of the Year, who is Marco Antonio Solís. Already on Thursday, we have our two flagship events, the Latin Grammy, where we give between 8 and 10 awards, although we have 53 categories, so we have 43 more awards to give than were given in a previous event.
–Exciting agenda and which, moreover, has been completed with the Acoustic Sessions for the first time in Spain, just a few weeks ago. Is it the beginning of a good, and long, friendship?
-For me, Spain has always been a priority in our organization. I think that distance should not be a factor in not being close, and since before the pandemic I came here and was looking at what we could do in your country. So, being able to have this first face-to-face event, where we were able to celebrate the Spanish nominees, seemed very exciting to me. The goal of Latin Grammy Acoustics Session it is creating spaces where both established artists and new artists can express themselves differently. They are like a bridge to unite different musical genres, or geographies or generations. And, this time in Spain, we have had an artist like Becky G. and a nominee for best new artist like Pol Granch. It was a party!
–What has been the main challenge you have faced in this first year at the helm of the Academy?
–The Academy has been doing things very well for 20 years, so the challenge was to respect the legacy but prepare for future growth. I have seen my function as a function of evolution and not of revolution. I have not come here to change everything but, on the contrary, to evolve and leave the Academy ready to grow organically and strategically.
–What is the mission of the Latin Recording Academy today?
–Our mission is very clear, it is to nurture, celebrate, honor and thank Latin music and its creators around the world. We aspire to be the global benchmark for Latin music and for Latin Grammy to remain the highest standard.
–Is this mission a challenge at a time when Latin music is booming in the rest of the world?
–It supposes an even greater responsibility because we have to evolve with music and because the challenge, remember, is to deliver awards that are given to excellence defined by the members of the Academy, not for popularity or commercial success. But Latin music is definitely going through a wonderful moment that should be celebrated.
–In a context of this explosion of creativity of Latin artists and, also, framed in these liquid times where the borders of musical styles are blurring. Is it complicated to establish the musical categories of the awards?
–Without a doubt, very complicated because music is a living organism, which evolves, and our responsibility is to keep ourselves in that evolution and adapt, not the other way around. In that sense, I think that our categories also respond to that dynamism of music, they are just as dynamic because, at the end of the day, it is all a conventionalism, music cannot be pigeonholed.
What brought you to the world of music?
-Well, the fairies of destiny and my experience in the media, they kind of came together. There is no doubt that I am happy, that it is a great responsibility and I am very honored to lead an organization like the Latin Recording Academy that seeks to support something as wonderful as music.
How would you like your work to be remembered?
-Well, that question is very philosophical… In the end I think it’s about leaving things better than how I found them. With that I will be satisfied.
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