10 Latin Grammy Nominees to Know

Vazquez Sounds
Sergio Bautista/Clasos/LatinContent/Getty Images

Vazquez Sounds poses for pictures during a press conference and showcase by Vazquez Sounds in order to present their new album Invencible at Auditorio Nacional de la Ciudad de Mexico on Sept. 22, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Artists with local followings and niche fans share 2015 nominations with consecrated Latin stars

The Latin Grammy awards show is an annual date with the most talked about Latin music artists of the previous year. J Balvin, Nicky Jam, and Maluma are among those who will perform at the 2015 awards, to be broadcast Nov. 19.

But before the televised show, about 90 percent of the awards will be presented at the Latin Grammy pre-show. That event, held in the afternoon, has been criticized over the years by nominees who are essentially deemed not important enough for face time on the actual awards. Streaming has made the situation better -- people can now actually watch those artists accept their honors, and this year, the Latin Grammy organizers have given the gathering its own special name, The Latin Grammy Premiere.

Those who tune in to the event on will witness one of the most endearing and exciting things about the Latin Grammys: diversity. Since the voting members represent the spectrum of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, there are always nominees who are virtually unknown in the U.S., where some of the nominated albums have yet to be released. A Latin Grammy-nominated artist can be a star in his or her own country, while in other countries they have a niche following. In the 16 years that the Latin Grammys have existed, of course, social media has made all the difference in helping any artist nab a nomination. 

Winners announced at the pre-show event in categories that represent specific genres or territories within Latin music can certainly be unfamiliar to the general public. And not only that. Some of the winners in categories that do make it on the actual Latin Grammys broadcast can be new to most of the television viewing audience that night, even if they have millions of YouTube views.

Meet ten Latin Grammy nominees you should know:

1. Vazquez Sounds
Nomination: best new artist

Ángela Vázquez started as a YouTube sensation, singing a cover of “Rolling in the Deep,” which has since 2011 amassed over 169 million views. The precocious 14-year-old is nominated  for a Grammy with her two brothers, Abelardo and Gustavo, as part of their family group Vazquez Sounds. Their debut album, Invencible, on Sony Music, was produced by their father Abelardo. It’s easy to predict that this is not the precocious Mexican teens’s last Latin Grammy turn.

2. Leonel Garcia
Nominations: Six, including record of the year, best singer-songwriter album, and song of the year for his single “Recuerdas,” and for “Hasta La Raíz”, which he co-wrote with Natalia Lafourcade.

The news that Leonel Garcia leads the 2015 Latin Grammy nominations with six nods was definitely greeted by more than a few people asking “Who?”  Mentioning his former group, Sin Bandera, cleared his identity up for Latin pop fans. But ask a Mexican and you’re more likely to get the juice on the full talent spectrum of the singer/songwriter, who has successfully bridged his alternative and radio-friendly romantic impulses, making him of one the most multi-faceted and respected artists on the current Mexican scene.

3. Monsieur Perine
Nomination: Album of the Year

Monsieur Perine’s swinging sound and gypsy jazz vibe has brought the Colombian band a European following, and made them a popular pick for festivals with a global bent. It’s hard to say what will bring them more new fans: the fact that their new release, Caja de Música, is nominated for album of the year, or that the album was produced by Eduardo Cabra of Calle 13 fame.

4. Onze20
Nomination: best Brazilian contemporary pop album

The members of Onze20 describe the group’s sound as reggae, but lovers rock is a more precise description of slow jams like “Pra Você” and “Querendo Te Encontrar.” They list Sublime, Foo Fighters, and Matisyahu as some of their influences. The band, formed in Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil and now based in Sao Paulo, has released four albums, including the one that’s put them on the nominations list, Vida Loka.

5. Astrid Asher
Nominations: traditional pop vocal, best album engineering

For her debut album, Astrid Asher teamed with Spanish producer Javier Limon, whose slow-burning musical style snagged him a 2014 Latin Grammy producer of the year award, as well as numerous other Grammy and Latin Grammy awards and nominations over the years. Asher, a Colombian singer who lives in Mexico, interprets a typical Limon repertoire on her album, featuring touches of tango, flamenco and bolero.

6. Camila Luna
Nomination: best pop/rock album

Camila Luna, a 22-year-old recent University of Miami student, shot her first video on her iPhone while visiting her grandmother in Puerto Rico. Her first EP, the bouncy yet ethereal Regresa a Casa, was an independent effort, but it wasn’t all an ingenue affair. It was produced by Jose Luis Pardo, who is DJ Afro of Los Amigos Invisibles, masters of the cool tropical sound.

7. Maria Toledo
Nomination: album of the year

This seductive piano-playing flamenco singer is an original. Active, and respected, in Spain’s authentic flamenco circles, Toledo transcends with a personal flair that takes her into Latin diva territory.

8. Charliepapa
Nominations: best rock album, best rock song

The members of this Venezuelan indie rock band have called their nominations for best rock album and best rock song “a miracle.” After watching the gorgeous video for their nominated song "Astrómetra,'' it seems more like good karma; they had it coming.

9. Rubén Ramos & The Mexican Revolution
Nomination: best tejano album

Rubén Ramos is hardly a newcomer. The 74-year-old veteran is well known to Tejano fans, and even Anglos have heard him on all three albums by the dream team Los Super Seven. This will not be the first trip to a Grammy ceremony for Austin’s “Gato Negro.” In 2009 he won a Grammy for best tejano album, and has other nominations under his belt. In other words, if you haven’t heard Ramos and his Tex-Mex band, here’s one for your next party.

10. Jamz

Nomination: best Brazilian contemporary pop album

These young soul men came to screaming fame in Brazil on the music reality show Superstar. They came in second on the show, but got more than a consolation prize with a Latin Grammy nomination for their album Insano.