From alternative to pop to Mexican regional music, the best new artist category for this year’s Latin Grammy Awards includes promising nominees from every end of the Latin music spectrum.
The list of newcomers includes Colombian singer and songwriter Esteman, Mexican regional singer Joss Favela, Chile’s “prince of pop” Alex Anwandter, border town band The Chamanas, Brazilian pop star Sophia Abrahão, Calle 13‘s Ileana Cabra, among others.
If you’re not very familiar with these names, Billboard’s got you covered. Below, find out more the Best New Artist nominees. Here are the first five (in no particular order):
Esteban Mateus, aka Esteman, landed a nomination thanks to his eclectic beat and “peaceful music revolution.” The Colombian singer and songwriter, who’s helped pioneer the new wave of alternative/pop music along with artists like Monsieur Periné and Bomba Estéreo in his native Colombia, has focused on creating fun and upbeat music with positive lyrics. “We need to keep working hard and not lose that hope of making music with a positive message, because that is very important for me. I can make music for people to dance, but I need to be comfortable with what I’m saying,” he previously told Billboard. He’s also up for best alternative music album for Caótica Belleza — which includes duets with Natalia Lafourcade, Carla Morrison and Li Saumet.
Among the alternative/indie/pop nominees for best new artist is the Sinaloa-born singer and songwriter representing the Mexican regional genre. Joss Favela, part of the new generation of ranchera/norteña music, at 25 years old became the youngest-ever songwriter winner at the ASCAP Latin Music Awards back in May. On the Billboard charts, he’s placed two songs on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart — most recently “Cuando Fuimos Nada” reached No. 20 on the Aug. 27-dated chart. His debut album, Hecho A Mano, debuted at No. 13 on the Top Latin Albums chart. The newcomer is also up against music veterans like Intocable and Los Tigres del Norte for best norteño album.
Best new artist nominee Alex Anwandter is no neophyte when it comes to making strong statements. His 2011 track “Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo” became a party anthem for gay youth battling discrimination in his native Chile. On his latest album, Amiga, which reached no. 18 on Billboard’s Latin Albums chart, he continues to represent the LGBT community and more broadly address themes like alienation in songs with a euphoric dance-pop beat, and some bleeding ballads. Anwandter, who’s been called Chile’s “prince of pop,” also debuted as an award-winning film director this year. His first feature, Nunca Vas A Estar Solo, was inspired by the tragic story of one of his fans, Daniel Zamudio, a Chilean teen who died after being attacked in a Santiago park. The movie won a Teddy Award at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival.
The name Sophia Abrahão is new to the Latin Grammy list of nominees, but hardly to Brazilian audiences. The 25-year-old was already modeling as a teenager and had moved on to telenovelas when she was picked to play a lead in the hit Brazilian teen series Rebeldes. She was a member of the spin-off band of the same name. The straight-up pop tracks on the Brazilian it girl’s 2015 self-titled album comprise a strong start for her solo singing career.
Representing border towns El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, The Chamanas’ original and unique sound has captivated a significant audience that appreciates a fusion of traditional folk music with electronic and contemporary beats. In their debut album, Once Once, the band plays with different instruments and melodies ranging from harps to huapanguera guitars and ’70s-inspired ballads that turn into an upbeat huapango-like tracks like “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.”