The Latin Grammys are in Spain this yr. So what? : NPR

The debates unfolding now about what it means for Spain to host the Latin Grammys trace at a lot bigger questions on how the Academy decides what constitutes Latin music.

Jackie Lay/NPR

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Jackie Lay/NPR

The debates unfolding now about what it means for Spain to host the Latin Grammys trace at a lot bigger questions on how the Academy decides what constitutes Latin music.

Jackie Lay/NPR

For the primary time in its almost 25-year historical past, the Latin Grammys ceremony can be held outdoors the U.S. this week. However Thursday’s ceremony is not headed to Mexico Metropolis or Bogotá, Colombia; as a substitute, the awards — and the week of occasions main as much as them — will take over the town of Seville, Spain.

The change in location is the results of a virtually 19 million-euro deal between the federal government of Andalusia and the Latin Recording Academy, which can promote music programming within the area over the course of three years. A further financial incentive, says Latin Recording Academy CEO Manuel Abud, is the chance for Radio Televisión Española to co-produce the bilingual telecast with Univision.

“I do know it sounds cliche to say that music has no boundaries, however in our case, it is a actuality,” Abud tells NPR. “So for us now to additionally cross the bodily boundaries, it makes good sense.”

The transfer is a component of a bigger effort for the Latin Grammys to strengthen their relationship with audiences globally. In the previous couple of years, the Latin Recording Academy has hosted acoustic periods and different smaller-scale occasions in Brazil, Mexico and Spain. Nonetheless, Abud stresses that 2023 is the one yr underneath the brand new partnership with the federal government of Andalusia that the Latin Grammys week can be held there. His aim, he explains, is for the ceremony to finally alternate: one yr within the U.S., one yr outdoors.

“We have been exploring the opportunity of doing it in a Latin American metropolis,” he says. “The situations weren’t there for this time. Probably subsequent yr can be within the U.S., however maybe for 2025 it will likely be some other place.”

The aspiration to show the awards ceremony into a global, touring phenomenon echoes sentiments expressed by the Academy through the very first annual Latin Grammys, which occurred in Los Angeles in 2000. However the determination to make the ceremony’s first, non-U.S. location Europe, in a rustic that colonized a lot of Latin America, has stoked controversy. The transfer additionally comes on the heels of final yr’s ceremony, the place Rosalía took dwelling the album of the yr award over Dangerous Bunny, a win that raised eyebrows as a result of it honored a white European artist liberally dabbling in tropical genres like bachata and reggaeton (although it is necessary to notice that the backlash has not been equal for male European artists within the Latin label — see Julio and Enrique Iglesias or Alejandro Sanz).

However the debates unfolding now about what it means for Spain to host the Latin Grammys trace at a lot bigger questions on how the Academy decides what constitutes Latin music, and whether or not or not the genres and artists it has uplifted as emblematic of that label promote a whitewashed and sanitized model of Latin artistry.

A brand new Academy is born — and scrutinized

“Since 1989, there have been lots of people complaining concerning the reality there have been a few Latin classes within the mainstream Grammy Awards,” says musician Rudy Pérez. “They barely gave us wherever between 5 and 7 minutes. It simply did not appear proper. [People] felt that quite a lot of artists and music was not being acknowledged and represented within the present.”

On the time, Pérez was one of many few Latin artists already being awarded by the common Grammys. He produced Jose Feliciano’s music “Ya Soy Tuyo,” which received finest Latin pop efficiency in 1986, and earned one other Grammy for his producing and songwriting credit on Luis Miguel’s Aries, which received finest Latin pop album in 1993. However as president of the Florida department of the Nationwide Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences, he says, he and trade leaders like Emilio Estefan began petitioning then-chairman of NARAS, Michael Greene, to create a separate Academy and awards ceremony devoted to Latin music.

“At first, [Greene] was a bit of skeptical as a result of he felt like lots of people have been going to be segregated, after which hastily, all people was going to need their very own academy,” says Perez. “After some time, he was satisfied that due to the variety of Latin music, a Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences wanted to exist. It was a should.”

As Latin music exploded all through the Nineteen Nineties, rising at double the speed of the trade total due to artists like Gloria Estefan, Selena and Enrique Iglesias, the newly-formed Latin Recording Academy — formally established in 1997 — began making ready standards for its personal awards ceremony, which might characteristic 40 classes versus the eight Latin classes within the mainstream Grammys.

However from the very starting, the Latin Grammys grew to become an ongoing web site of rivalry. The primary yr that the awards have been held, the Academy obtained stark criticism from regional Mexican labels and artists for failing to correctly acknowledge regional inside its nominations and performances, provided that it was the top-selling style inside the U.S. Latin market. (Comparable accusations have been made this yr concerning the Academy snubbing Peso Pluma and the regional pop breakthrough.) Again then, Michael Greene, who resigned in 2002 following allegations that he had sexually harassed and abused one other Academy government grew to become public, allegedly needed to battle for ranchera star Alejandro Fernández to take the stage amidst advertisers’ considerations that regional wouldn’t broadly attraction to audiences — all whereas ‘NSYNC’s bilingual efficiency on the inaugural ceremony was being extremely publicized.

In 2001, the Latin Grammys have been moved out of Miami after anti-Castro, Cuban exiles led protests towards the ceremony’s inclusion of artists from Cuba. And because the early 2000s, the Latin Grammys have maintained a difficult relationship with reggaeton and — very like the common Grammys — what it calls “city” music. As each the common and the Latin Academy have realized over the previous 24 years, the “Latin music” umbrella time period — meant to fortify a unified label underneath which music from throughout the Ibero-American diaspora will be expanded and commercialized — comes with its personal set of tensions about who’s included and uplifted by the trade.

Latin, as outlined by language

Whereas Latino/a/e is used within the U.S. as a marker for individuals from Latin American origin, and Hispanic is used to categorise Spanish-speakers, these parameters work fairly otherwise because it pertains to how the music trade — and the Academy — makes use of them. Greater than geography or identification, the Latin Grammys are organized round language. In an effort to qualify, music should be recorded predominantly in Spanish or Portuguese, or in a language native to the international locations the place Spanish and Portuguese are primarily spoken.

“The label ‘Latin’ is created within the States, so it could possibly appear from Latin American international locations and from Spain as some colonial tag that’s making an attempt to homogenize all these artists and make them straightforward to grasp and straightforward to hearken to for those who dwell within the States,” says Eduardo Viñuela Suárez, a musicologist and professor on the Universidad de Oviedo in Spain. However on the identical time, he explains, Hispanic and Latino communities within the U.S. signify a rapidly-growing market that consumes a variety of music the place language is usually the one widespread denominator.

“There aren’t any musical parameters and there’s no [one] Latin fashion, as a result of there are a lot of musical genres and types which might be all collectively underneath the umbrella of Latin music,” says Viñuela.

He factors to the truth that Laura Pausini, an Italian artist who’s been recording music in Spanish since 1994, was named this yr’s Latin Recording Academy individual of the yr and can be honored through the Latin Grammys week in Seville. In some circumstances, he says, Italy might be included as a rustic inside the music trade’s definition of Latin music, as the house of the Latin and Roman empires.

“There’s [a way of] connecting Latin with the Mediterranean due to its Latin-Roman roots, and that additionally creates hyperlinks amongst the international locations which might be within the southern components of Europe,” he explains. In that sense, he says Andalusia is particularly vital because the vacation spot of this yr’s Latin Grammys as a result of it is the birthplace of flamenco and the setting of Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen, two of essentially the most influential and globally well-liked representations of Spanish music.

The fact is that music — the place it comes from, who it is formed by, who turns into the face of it — carries political and social implications that can not be ignored in favor of linguistic similarities. When language is the one measure of Latin identification considered for the Grammys, the complexities of race, geography and cross-cultural change usually get misplaced within the course of.

“In the USA, [Spanish and Portuguese people] aren’t racialized as Latinos in the identical approach as individuals from Latin America,” says Petra Rivera-Rideau, a professor at Wellesley Faculty whose analysis focuses on race, identification and popular culture. “Latin music as a class that is simply language-based — so you do not have to consider race, you do not have to consider nationwide origin, you do not have to consider any of these tough issues that may provoke quite a lot of rivalry and simply rejoice Spanish — may be very handy.”

Mirroring cycles of oppression

As there are increasingly more debates about utilizing Spanish — a colonial language — as a measure of Latinidad within the U.S., the group of Latin musical identification round language, as it’s for the LARAS, feels increasingly more in flux. By shifting the Latin Grammys to Spain and persevering with to embrace European artists, the Latin Academy is mirroring the methods wherein whiteness and its privileges are disproportionately valued in Latine communities, each in and out of doors of the U.S. The query then, says Rivera-Rideau, isn’t a lot about the place the Latin Grammys are held, however whether or not the Latin Academy is fixing the issue it got down to clear up.

If the Latin Grammys have been created as a separate entity as a way to rejoice the variety inside Latin music and the audiences they serve, how a lot has the Academy truly fulfilled that mission — or how a lot is it reinforcing systemic, historic inequalities round race, gender and sophistication that exist within the mainstream music trade and society at giant?

“There’s a profound underrepresentation of Black and indigenous musicians and artists nominated and performing on the Latin Grammys each single yr, even supposing you would not have reggaeton, salsa, bachata if you did not have Black communities in [the Caribbean],” says Rivera-Rideau.

The genres and artists which might be most frequently excluded from the Latin Grammys — together with regional Mexican, reggaeton and hip-hop — are usually genres related to Black and working-class communities. They’re marginalized and appeared down upon by the cultural elite each in Latin America and within the U.S., says Rivera-Rideau, till they’re popularized by artists with lighter complexions. And even then, they’re sluggish to be acknowledged by the Latin Grammys.

Tego Calderón, one of many pioneering, most unabashedly political voices in reggaeton, has solely ever received one Latin Grammy — in the meantime, Dangerous Bunny, who cites Calderón as one in every of his largest inspirations, has 9. Even nonetheless, Benito’s groundbreaking Un Verano Sin Ti, which options a few of his most direct criticism of Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship to the U.S., controversially misplaced the Latin Grammy for album of the yr to Rosalía’s Motomami.

This yr, regardless of carrying corridos tumbados to unprecedented highs on the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, Peso Pluma is notably lacking from the Latin Grammy nominations. So are artists like Younger Miko and Villano Antillano, queer girls who’ve been dubbed the brand new face of urbano.

For the previous quarter century, the Latin Grammys have performed a pivotal function in normalizing non-English music in the USA and all over the world. However at the same time as Latin music tops international charts and breaks streaming data, it is obviously absent from the principle classes of the not too long ago introduced common Grammy nominees. The Latin Recording Academy was based to higher acknowledge and signify the huge range of voices inside Latin music, however immediately it undervalues its most boundary-pushing gamers and marginalized views.

Latin music goes to continue to grow and diversifying in thrilling new instructions; if the Latin Grammys wish to sustain, the Academy has to take a tough take a look at the way it’s defining the artwork it is imagined to signify, and who it is selecting to champion.


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