The best new artist of 2022 is a Cuban American who was born in 1927. You read that right.
She is a grandmother who is finally living out her dream of being a professional musician at the age of 95. Angela Alvarez tied with Silvana Estrada for best new artist at the Latin Grammys on Nov. 17.
She thanked her daughter and grandson, who were the ones to first record her music.
“My grandson was the one who helped me get to where I am now,” she said in her speech. “I want to dedicate this award to God and my homeland Cuba, (which) I will never forget.”
This woman loved music her whole life, she learned to play guitar and piano as a young girl in Cuba. At 14, she began writing her own songs, but she was never able to pursue her dream of singing and songwriting professionally. Her very traditional father forbade it.
After the Cuban Revolution, she made the painful decision in 1962 to send her four kids to the United States as part of the mass exodus of 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children fleeing communist oppression.
After long years of separation, she finally was able to come to America and be reunited with her children. Her family settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
She always played music for her children and then, when the time came, her grandchildren. One of her grandchildren is a composer, Carlos José Alvarez.
“She has been singing to us since we were kids,” Carlos, now 42, recalled. “Every chance she had to grab a guitar, she was singing to us.”
“One day, I called her up and I said ‘I want you to sing me the songs that you compose,’” Carlos said. “She walks out of a room with these notebooks that was like more than 40 songs and the songs were like a diary of her life.”
Her songs traced her entire life story. At that moment, Carlos, who is a composer, decided he would one day record them.
A friend finally asked him if he was waiting for her to die, and that got him moving.
After finishing recording, Carlos and the musicians he worked with agreed that Angela’s story should be a documentary. He contacted actor Andy Garcia, who agreed.
“When I heard her music, I was so moved by it was moved by her story,” Garcia told TODAY. “And that was it.”
In September, she was nominated for a Latin Grammy — best new artist at the age of 95. She took home the hardware from the ceremony in Las Vegas on Nov. 17.
After winning, she dedicated her award to everyone who has a dream and said it’s “never too late” to follow it.