It was surprise after surprise as the winners to the Latin categories of the Grammys were announced in the pretelecast.
Singer/songwriter Claudia Brant, who has built a career as one of the top songwriters in Latin music, won as a performer in the Best Latin Pop Album category for Sincera, a collection of personal, heartfelt songs set to acoustic, Brazilian-tinged arrangements, courtesy of producers/engineers Cheche Alara (who was conducting the house band during the pre-telecast ceremony) and Moogie Canazio. Brant won over a field of hefty contenders that included Carlos Vives (with Vives), Spanish star Pablo Alborán with the soulful Prometo, Natalia LaFourcade with the second volume of her Musas series and Puerto Rican up and coming singer/songwriter Raquel Sofía with 2 A.M.
The Best Latin rock/alternative/urban Album went to Mexican band Zoé’s Aztlan in a hard to predict category where the alternative sounds of Monsiuer Periné and the urban sounds of Orishas also stood a good chance of winning. But it’s gratifying to see a successful and respected rock band pick up this award.
There were no big commercial releases in the Best Tropical Album category, which went to critically acclaimed Spanish Harlem Orchestra for Anniversary. The only fully expected win was Luis Miguel’s, for his Latin Grammy winning ¡México Por Siempre!
Despite the fact that the Latin nominations barely reflected the reality of the Latin music landscape, the performances and speeches at the telecast were standouts.
“I came here 20 years ago as an immigrant and the doors were open to me. I hope it continues,” said an emotional Brant, striking a balance between gratitude for the country that welcomed and hope for those who are also trying for a better future.
Earlier in the evening, Lucy Kalantari, who won Best Children’s Album for All The Sounds by Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats, gave a shout out to her mom in Dominican Republic.
“This album was recorded by a Latina woman. It was produced by a woman,” she said.
And the Latin category performance was gorgeous, with three Mexican nominees — luminous teenager Angela Aguilar and veterans Aida Cuevas and Natalia LaFourcade — singing the traditional “La Llorona.” Certainly not urban, but a shining example of artistry.