Father Prohibits His Daughter From Becoming A Musician, She Gets Nominated For Latin Grammy Nearly 80 Years Later After Grandson Records Her Songs


Jan 31, 2023

In this day and age, we are encouraged to pursue our dreams when we’re young, full of energy, and have lots of life in front of us to fix the mistakes we make in the process. Any day missed is a day of pushing said dreams away. But is it really? In a lot of cases, the time for dream catching never runs out.

The best new Latin artist of 2022 may be a 95-year-old Cuban-American grandmother who has just recently started living out her dream of being a professional musician with the help of her grandson, who shared her works on the world wide web. This is the story of Angela Alvarez, so let’s get into it!

More info: Instagram | Angela Alvarez

Cuban-American grandmother Angela Alvarez has fulfilled her dream of being a professional musician at 95, resulting in her being nominated for a Latin Grammy

Image credits: cjacomposer

The way we envision our lives panning out is rarely the way it ends up happening. The possibilities are endless, the options are endless, and the unforeseen alternatives are endless. That’s what makes living such a journey; you never know which road will lead you to water, and which to scorching lava.

But as long as you lead with love, you’re sure to find your way sooner or later. Angela Alvarez has loved music her whole life. She learned to play guitar and piano as a young girl in Cuba, writing songs from the age of 14.

Angela has loved music her whole life and started writing songs at 14. But because of her father’s disapproval, she put her dream of becoming a musician on hold

Image credits: angelaalvarez1927

“I loved music very much,” Angela told Billboard Español. “When I was a child, I had two aunts that played the piano and taught me how to sing. Whenever there was a family gathering, I was the artist; they made dresses for me and I always liked to perform.”

However, her dreams of becoming a professional musician were to be put under lock and key, as her father forbade it. He didn’t believe that kind of life would be suitable for his daughter, saying, “No. You sing for the family, but not for the world.” She obeyed out of her love for him.

She continued writing songs, documenting each important moment in them as though they were a diary of her experiences, leading to around 50 pieces of music

Image credits: TODAY

She eventually married and started a family. Yet, peaceful family life would not last for long. After the Cuban Revolution ended in 1959, she was forced to make the painful decision to send her children to the United States on their own as part of the mass Cuban exodus.

Although she planned to go alongside them, she was not allowed to board the plane. In 1962 her four kids joined 14,000 other unaccompanied Cuban children fleeing the communist oppression, whilst Angela and her husband remained.

Image credits: TODAY

Several long years of separation passed before she made her way to the US, reuniting with her children and rebuilding her family through immense struggle and effort. They eventually settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While her husband, a mechanical engineer, worked in the sugar industry, her songs filled their home. She sang to her children and then, when the time came, to her nine grandchildren.

“She has been singing to us since we were kids,” Carlos José Alvarez, her 42-year-old composer grandson, recalled to TODAY. “Every chance she had to grab a guitar, she was singing to us.” He credited his love for music to have stemmed from his Nana, as the kids call her.

As the years passed, she sang to her children, then her nine grandchildren, one of whom, Carlos José Alvarez, became a composer, thanks to his nana’s love for music

Image credits: cjacomposer

One day, an idea popped into his head—why not record those songs, preserving them as a family legacy? So he told his grandmother: “I want you to sing me the songs that you compose’” Without a second thought, she presented him with around 50 songs created throughout her life, spanning from her youth in Cuba to the present day.

Music stayed as an important part of her life, getting her through ups and downs and documenting all the little pieces of her life into a gorgeous mosaic of history, as though it were her personal diary that she shared with those she loved most. The songs captured her joy, her love, as well as her pain and loss upon losing both her husband and only daughter to cancer.

He got the idea to record all her songs as a means of preserving their family history, but it took until 2016 to get the ball rolling

Image credits: TODAY

“I think that music is the language of the soul,” said Angela. Some of her songs are Romper el Yugo (Break the Chains), Añoranzas (Yearnings), Mi Gran Amor (My Great Love), and Camino Sin Rumbo (I Wonder Aimlessly), to name a few. Click on the highlighted text to have a listen!

“If I could break the chains that imprison you with such great might / How happy I would be, I would sing a hymn of peace,” she sings to Cuba in Spanish. “I wander aimlessly, how sad it makes me / I wander aimlessly finding nothing / I look for solace, I look for peace,” she cries in a song she wrote in 1978 after her husband’s passing.

Image credits: angelaalvarez1927

It took Carlos a while to sit down and work on this project, as he was focusing on his own work and career. While waiting for the perfect moment that seemingly never came, a little bit of a wake up call came in 2016, when his friend asked Carlos whether he was “waiting for her to die.” The question “knocked me over,” Carlos said.

“I owe that man the credit for waking me up,” he said of Al-Omar, also a producer on the album. “I got back from Spain, I called her, and I said ‘Nana, I’m already doing your arrangements. You’re coming to L.A. We’re doing this.’” Soon after, he flew his grandma out to his home in Los Angeles to begin the process of recording and producing her debut album.

Not only were the musicians excited to be working with Carlos’ grandma, but they were shocked upon hearing her songs. “I play them her music and they just can’t believe it,” Carlos recalled. “They were blown away. They were like, ‘These are her songs? These sound like classics, but I’ve never heard them before!’”

Once the passion project was finished, Carlos reached out to Cuban-American actor Andy Garcia, who decided to produce a documentary on Angela’s story

Image credits: cjacomposer

Once the passion project was completed, they knew they had something very special on their hands, something that they couldn’t just keep for themselves. Carlos reached out to Cuban-American actor and musician Andy Garcia for some advice on how to best tell her story.

“When I heard her music, I was so moved by it, I was moved by her story,” Andy told TODAY. That was enough for him to take up executively producing and narrating a feature-length documentary, named Miss Angela, which was released in 2021.

Not only that, he also invited her to appear in his Father of the Bride remake as Tía Pili (Aunt Pili), and to sing Quiéreme Mucho (Love Me a Lot) as part of the soundtrack. “She represents a generation, perhaps our greatest generation of Cubans,” Andy said of Angela.

In September, she was nominated for a Latin Grammy for best new artist—at the age of 95. The nana-grandson duo are scheduled to perform at the ceremony

Image credits: angelaalvarez1927

It’s clear that the songs reached the hearts of hundreds if not thousands of people, as in September of this year she was nominated for a Latin Grammy for best new artist—at the age of 95. She’s scheduled to perform at the ceremony in Las Vegas on November 17 with Carlos.

And it was all Al-Omar’s idea! “He said, ‘You know how fitting and incredible it would be if she was nominated for best new artist at her age? You know the message that that would send to the world?’” Carlos recalled to Billboard.

“And we laughed about it! We sent it, and two days ago I was checking on my neighbor’s cat, and I’m standing there and I get text messages: ‘Congratulations!’ And I’m like, ‘For what!?’ And it hit me, based on the person who was writing, and I said ‘No way!’ […] It’s unimaginable.”

“Ask [your grandparents] about the dreams they had once upon a time. They will be surprised at what they will find,” Carlos encourages all

Image credits: TODAY

Angela couldn’t believe it either. “It was a very big but very beautiful surprise, and I thought afterwards that all my dreams came true. At 95, but that doesn’t matter,” she said, laughing. If her late father and husband were still alive to see it for themselves, she knows they’d be very proud.

All those years ago, she found her love for music. All those years ago, she locked her dreams away. All those years later, she was finally able to unlock the box, unleashing her talents for all of us to applaud, enjoy, and learn from.

We wish Angela and Carlos, as well as the rest of their family, nothing but the best, and we can’t wait to see whether she’ll win the Grammy!

Image credits: cjacomposer

“I hope this entire project inspires young people to sit down and talk to their elders. Ask them questions. Ask them about the dreams they had once upon a time. They will be surprised at what they will find,” Carlos concluded. “If we don’t ask them, they won’t tell us, and their wisdom and dreams will leave with them.”

We wish Angela and Carlos, as well as the rest of their family, nothing but the absolute best. Let us know your thoughts on this inspiring story in the comments below, and I shall see you in the next one!

People online have loved this inspirational story. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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