Angela Alvarez is 95 years old. Silvana Estrada is 25 years old.
Both do acoustic-leaning music that’s bound to the traditions of their respective home countries: Cuba for Alvarez, Mexico for Estrada. On Thursday night (Nov. 18), the two met on the stage of the 2022 Latin Grammys, tying to win for best new artist.
Estrada, who has been lauded as one of the bright new voices of Latin music, was a big favorite to win the award. As for Alvarez, the evening was an emotional conclusion in her very unlikely quest for not only a Latin Grammy, but one in the best new artist category at age 95.
Voters’ vacillation between a long career ahead and the thrill of honoring a career found late in life was evident in the voting results.
“I didn’t prepare a speech,” said a tearful Estrada, who grew up with luthier parents and writes exquisite songs. “But as a woman, this award was already ours, especially with this woman by my side. It’s important to represent for the new generations, that they know it’s worthwhile to fight.”
Estrada, the first Latin artist signed to indie Glassnote Records, ended her speech with a thank you to her parents, “For teaching me that music is worthwhile and that one has to live life with happiness.”
Alvarez was not tearful when she gave her prepared speech. With eyes and voice clear, she methodically thanked a long list of people, including actor and director Andy García, for taking her to this moment.
She ended by specifically thanking her grandson, standing beside her.
“He was the one who helped me get here,” she said (her grandson was the person who encouraged Alvarez, at 95, to record her music). “And I want to dedicate this award to God, and to my beloved Cuba, which I will never forget. And to those who have yet to make their dreams come true, know that although life is hard, there’s always a way out and with faith and love everything can be achieved. I promise you, it’s never too late.”
The audience gave both a standing ovation.
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