+
Pop Culture

95-year-old makes Grammy history after grandson records her first ever album

The world will now know the 'angelic and soulful' voice of Angela Alvarez.

grammy, angela alvarez, latin music

The album is simply titled "Angela Alvarez."

Clearly, music runs in the Alvarez family. Angela Alvarez, now 95, began writing songs at the age of 14 while growing up in 1930s Cuba. She might have not continued with professional ambitions, but the passion was kept well alive.

Her grandson, Carlos José Alvarez, then went on to become a composer in Los Angeles, combining his inherited talent with a love for cinema. Carlos José knew the huge impact his grandmother’s (aka Nana’s) music made on his life, and as Alvarez grew older, he wanted to encapsulate her legacy by creating an album of her songs.

Little did he or his gifted Nana know just how far the loving gesture would go—securing her a historic Latin Grammy win for 'Best New Artist.' Alvarez is the eldest winner of the award ever.



Carlos José told the The Washington Post that inspiration led him to bring a microphone over to his Nana’s house—now in Baton Rouge, Louisiana—to capture her “angelic and soulful” voice. Though he was no stranger to her singing, in the process of recording, Carlos José learned more about his Nana’s life than he had ever known before.

Alvarez had written more than 50 songs during her lifetime. With every piece, she coped with major milestones and obstacles in her life, like the grief of losing both her husband and daughter to cancer, and helping her young children flee alone into the U.S. as Fidel Castro took over their home country.


“I didn’t realize that these songs were like a diary of her life. It all made sense,” Carlos José told The Washington Post. “You can hear the life she has lived in her singing.”

This was as far as her love for music could ever go, as she was forbidden by her father to become a professional musician. Loving him dearly, she complied to sing only for her “family, and not the world.”

That would soon change, as Carlos José decided to not only record his Nana’s songs, but produce and release a full 15-track album, simply titled “Angela Alvarez.” The passion project became a labor of love for many of Carlos José’s creative friends, including not only fellow musicians, but Cuban American actor Andy Garcia, who was so moved by Carlos José’s act of kindness that he helped create “Miss Angela,” a documentary chronicling Alvarez's life and the songs inspired by it.

Alvarez’s long-lost dream had finally come to fruition. She even celebrated her 91st birthday by captivating audiences during her first live public concert at the historic Avalon in L.A, where Garcia gave her a glowing introduction. “She represents a generation, perhaps our greatest generation of Cubans,” he told viewers.

Then things got even better. Now Alvarez is nominated for a Latin Grammy award for Best New Artist. The lesson: It’s never too late for a dream to flourish. Magic can happen by continuing to do the things that make you come alive.

Perhaps the even greater lesson comes from Carlos José. As he shared with Billboard, “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. If we don’t ask them, they won’t tell us, and their wisdom and dreams will leave with them.”

Kudos to the grandma finally getting her long-awaited moment in the sun, and to the grandson whose love helped make it happen.

Celine Dion spoke directly to her fans on social media.

Celine Dion has shared the devastating news that she has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome.

In an emotional video to her fans, the 54-year-old French-Canadian singer apologized for taking so long to reach out and explained that her health struggles have been difficult to talk about.

"As you know, I have always been an open book, and I wasn't ready to say anything before. But I'm ready now."

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

This week's finds include an adorable baby's first 'Dada,' an appreciative delivery driver, an angel rocking out to 'O Come, All Ye Faithful' and more.

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

Ho ho ho, happy humans!

It's that time of the week again, when we gather together the most smile-worthy tidbits of the past seven days and share them with you all. As the lucky person who gets to wrap them up in a nice, shiny, virtual bow, I'm delighted to tell you that this week's list is awesome. They always are—that's kind of the point—but this week I can practically guarantee you're going to be brimming with joy by the end.

Right out of the gate, we've got baby giggles. I mean, come on. Who can resist baby giggles?

Keep ReadingShow less

Tenacious D performs at the Rock in Pott festival.

The medley that closes out the second side of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album is one of the most impressive displays of musicianship in the band’s storied career. It also provided the perfect send-off before the band’s official breakup months later, ending with the lyrics, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

In 1969, “Abbey Road” was the last record the group made together, although “Let it Be,” recorded earlier that year, was released in 1970.

At first, the medley was just a clever way for the band to use a handful of half-finished tunes, but when it came together it was a rousing, grandiose affair.

Arranged by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin, the medley weaves together five songs written by McCartney, "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight” and "The End," and three by John Lennon, “Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."

Fifteen seconds after the medley and the album’s conclusion, there is a surprise treat, McCartney’s 22-second “Her Majesty,” which wound up on the record as an accident.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass, collectively known as Tenacious D, recently reimagined two of the songs in the medley, "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "The End," for acoustic guitars for a performance on SiriusXM's Octane Channel. Like everything with Tenacious D, it showed off the duo’s impressive musical chops as well as their fantastic sense of humor.

The truncated version of the medley was also a wonderful tribute to the incredible work the Beatles did 53 years ago.

Warning: This video contains NSFW language.

Moms don't have to be hard to shop for. Here are gifts she'll love.

True

Every year, moms put on their elf hats and become Santa's helpers. They shop for and wrap the family's presents, cook the holiday meal, organize the crafts and even set out cookies for the big guy. They're so busy making the holiday season magical for their family that oftentimes they don't get any time to rest.

Keep ReadingShow less