Amazing “Abuelita” Wins Latin Grammy at 95!
Angela Álvarez proves that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
By any measure, Angela Álvarez has led a remarkable life. Even now, at age 95, when most people are well beyond “winding down” their lives, this amazing (bis)abuelita is still going strong. On November 17, 2022, Álvarez was named Best New Artist and became the oldest person to win a Latin Grammy for her album of original music in which she sings and plays the guitar.
Álvarez was born in Cuba in 1927. As a young woman, she had dreams of being a singer-songwriter. Her father discouraged her from singing as a career (it was not considered appropriate for young women to sing in public at the time), so she married instead and had four children.
In 1962, in the wake of the Cuban revolution, she tried to leave Cuba to come to the United States with her children. Her paperwork was rejected at the airport, however, and she made the heart-wrenching decision to send her children to the U.S. without her. (The children were cared for by the “Pedro Pan” program — a partnership between the U.S. government and the Catholic Church, organized to shelter unaccompanied Cuban children while they waited for their parents (hopefully) to arrive in the U.S.) Álvarez eventually was allowed to leave Cuba and made a new life for herself and her family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Through the years, Álvarez never lost her interest in music. She continued to sing and write songs about her struggles and her beloved Cuba. Her grandson, Carlos José Alvarez, works in the music industry and encouraged her to record the songs she had written. With the help of Cuban actor, Andy Garcia, her album was released in 2021, and one of her songs was featured in the recent remake of the movie “Father of the Bride” (in which she also made a cameo appearance).
In the acceptance speech for her Grammy, Álvarez gave took a moment to express her gratitude and to encourage others to follow their dreams: “I want to dedicate this award to God and to my beloved country, Cuba, which I will never be able to forget . . . . To those who have not fulfilled their dream, although life is difficult, there is always a way out and with faith and love you can achieve it, I promise you. It’s never too late.”
You can get a sense of how awesome Álvarez is in this interview:
And if you want to learn more about this amazing Latina (and we think you should!), watch this amazing movie about her life and music.
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