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Photo: Latin Grammy 2020
Photo: Latin Grammys 2020

Latin Grammys 2020: The Latino 'indie' artists who made a splash

As the rage of the big celebration dies down, the time is now to realize the champions of the niche awards.  

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The 2020 Latin Grammys, aside from the being notable for the cloud of COVID-19 hovering over the ceremony, was also memorable for the few big reggaeton winners despite being nominated more than anyone else. Rosalía, Bad Bunny and Jennifer López also continued to reinforce their global statures. But beyond the big names and mainstream genres, there was a wealth of music talent that won and went unnoticed. Here are some of those names:

Susana Baca

The Peruvian singer and composer won the award for "Best Folk Album" with A Capella, and she accepted it from home, thanking her husband because they composed it during the confinement together.

"All this was done thinking of friends, of all the people of my country," added Baca.

But the Lima native, perhaps not so well known in the United States, is actually an important figure in her country. First, as a politician who was the Minister of Culture and President of the Inter-American Committee on Culture, and secondly, as a key agent in the recovery of Latin American folklore and the forgotten rhythms of Afro-Peruvian music. Baca's parents were part of the band Perú Negro and she worked as an assistant for legendary folklorist Chabuca Granda.

Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra

Another award from the night that went to a Peruvian artist connected to Granda was for "Best Arrangement." The winners were the Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra and the award was for its adaptation of Granda's famous song, "La Flor de Canela." 

The Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra is up of Aníbal Seminario and Lorenzo Ferreró.

"I dedicate this award to my Peru as a celebration of our beautiful culture," said Ferreró in his acceptance speech. 

Tina Kids

Children are always the forgotten ones in the media until Christmas comes. However, they are more consumers of digital culture than ever, so the music created for them should be taken into consideration. In that vein, Tina Kids won the award for "Best Children's Album" for Canta y Juega, and has spread like wildfire on YouTube. Tina Kids is a pseudonym for Cecilia Valentina Keil, an Argentine who has lived in Spain for 20 years.

Emilio Solla Tango Jazz Orchestra

The avant-garde between jazz and tango is on the rise and there is an Argentine at the front, who showased originality with an album that works like an opera and pays homage to all the ports of the world and the tradition of the mestizo. For the production Puertos: Music from International Waters, Emilio Solla won the award for "Best Jazz Album." It is an album of 17 tracks that sounds almost like a maritime sonata to melt into liquid desire on the dance floor.

Domingo Pagliuca

Of the Latin Grammys that went to Venezuelan artists, the trumpet player took home "Best Classical Music Album" for Eternal Gratitude, a collaboration with pianist Paulina Leisring. Before going solo, Pagliuca was with the Miami Symphony for five years. 

Other than winning a Latin Grammy, there is also something else many of the niche winners have in common. Susana Baca, Tina Kids, Emilio Solla and Domingo Pagliuca are all represented by CD Baby, which defines itself as the largest distributor of independent music on the globe, and has been supporting Latin artists for a decade by taking them from the digital margins to the mainstream scene. The company commented that it has "invested to create a platform that educates and allows Latin artists to do much more than sell their music" while celebrating with special fervor that Susana Baca has managed to break the Grammy barrier for Peruvian women.

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