The Recording Academy recognizes achievements in music.
Nominations were announced on November 20, 2019. The awards will be broadcast live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020.
The Grammys have only a small focus on Latin artists and a couple of years back completely soiled themselves by not giving Despacito major awards — even though it broke all kinds of sales records and was such a cross-cultural phenomena that people around the world were singing, lip-syncing, in Spanish. What was the Recording Academy thinking?
The big news in Latin this year is Rosalía. The Spanish pop flamenco singer is nominated for Best New Artist. She only released her first album in 2017, but has already reinvigorated the entire flamenco category. People complain that she is not Andalusián where flamenco is from, although there was a migration of workers from Andalusía to Barcelona where she grew up. People complain that she is not really flamenco. She studied it and who cares? She’s the key driver of a flamenco renaissance. Clap your hands and stomp your feet. Go Rosalía!
Shawn Mendes (Portuguese-Canadian) and Camila Cabello (Cuban-American) are nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for Señorita.
Italian pop opera singer Andrea Bocelli is nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Sì.
Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela are nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Mettavolution.
Esperanza Spalding is nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album for 12 Little Spells.
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
This category gets interesting.
New York’s own Brazilian choro specialist Anat Cohen is nominated for her album Triple Helix. Choro is old Carnival music from Rio. It has a joyful sound and is often compared to early New Orleans jazz. Cohen is an Israeli New Yorker, but is really is a choro master. It doesn’t matter whether she is playing Latin or not. Anat is a virtuoso clarinet and sax player.
Brian Lynch Big Band is also nominated for The Omni-American Book Club. He is also Jewish, but was Hector Lavoe’s last trumpet player. Then he worked with Eddie Palmieri. Lynch teaches at the University of Miami and NYU. He has great Latin chops.
The Brian Lynch Big Band wins for “The Omni-American Book Club.”
The last of the Latin Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album nominees is the Terraza Big Band for One Day Wonder. Terraza is Terraza 7, the great Latin jazz club in Elmhurst, Queens. It’s owned a Colombian former doctor. He treats the building like his patient. He’s always fixing or modifying something. If you are Colombian, when you walk in, you immediately feel at home. Everybody plays there. Terraza 7 is one of those really unique, only-in-New-York places that they just don’t make anymore.
Best Latin Jazz Album
Chick Corea & The Spanish Heart Band are nominated for Antidote. WINNER
Sorte! with music by John Finbury is nominated.
Una noche con Rubén Blades has Blades backed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Jazz at Lincoln Center hired us to promote that show. Carlos Henriquez produced. Lincoln Center was the first big New York City organization to accept us so this was an important moment for us. Rubén crossed over into a jazzy Broadway style for this concert. His wife is a Broadway singer. It was really interesting to hear him sing Mack the Knife which was the inspiration for his legendary salsa hit Pedro Navaja. The highlight of concert was the encore when Rubén, Wynton and two percussionists played Patria, Rubén’s song about trying to explain to a child, the homeland he has never seen.
David Sánchez is nominated for Carib.
Miguel Zenón is nominated for Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera.
There is a lot of great music here. Not sure how you pick this winner.
Best Latin Pop Album
Vida – Luis Fonsi
11:11 – Maluma
Montaner – Ricardo Montaner
El Disco – Alejandro Sanz WINNER
Fantasía – Sebastian Yatra
Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album
X 100Pre – Bad Bunny
Oasis – J Balvin & Bad Bunny
Indestructible – Flor de Toloache
Almadura – iLe
El Mal Querer – Rosalía – WINNER
It’s a tough one to call. Love all of these artists. It’s good to see the ladies get recognition. Flor de Toloache is New York City’s own all-woman mariachi band. They won a Latin Grammy already so this is a nice and well-deserved feather in their cap.
Ile is the little sister of Calle 13. She combines her brothers’ intensity with a real disarming sweetness, but she is potent. We met her in Puerto Rico. She’s really nice.
Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano)
Caminado – Joss Favela
Percepcion – Intocable
Poco a Poco – La Energía Norteña
20 aniversario – Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea
De Ayer Para siempre – Mariachi los Camperos WINNER
Best Tropical Latin Album
Opus – Marc Anthony – WINNER (TIE)
Tiempo al Tiempo – Luis Enrique + C4 Trio
Candela – Vicente García
Literal – Juan Luis Guerra 4.40
A Journey Through Cuban Music – Aymée Nuviola – WINNER (TIE)
Looking at all this great music, it is surprising how quickly the year went by.