At their age, artists are paid tributes for a long and brilliant career or laudatory obituaries are given with a collection of congratulations.

This woman is different, without a doubt. Ángela Álvarez has sneaked into the Grammy Awards for Latino artists, which are awarded this Thursday night in Las Vegas, with an album of fifteen lullabies written by her and titled with her own name.

He will attend, and even perform, at the gala in which Bad Bunny, 28, is the most nominated (ten) and in which Rosalía, 30, is one of the great favorites to add more gramophones with her seven nominations. .

Ángela Alvarez will not compete with these “veterans” of success, whose styles are so opposite to hers. It will not be possible because she is framed in the category of “new artist”.

He is 95 years old.

It is the oldest ever incorporated in this section. In the list of winners of other editions are Juanes, David Bisbal or Calle 13. They could be her grandchildren, so it is not surprising that she is called “the grandmother of the Latin Grammys”.

And it is not a figurative denomination. She is real like herself. Her true grandson, the musician Carlos José Alvarez, was the one who connected her with this dream come true. She wanted to preserve the songs that her grandmother sang to her every time she went to visit her and that influenced her so much in being who she is as an adult.

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” the new artist told The Washington Post from her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

It’s also not surprising that he does this to make sure this is real.

She grew up in Cuba, where she left shortly after the victory of the Castro revolution in 1959. Since she was a child, she wanted to be a singer, but in the United States, without knowing English, she had to dedicate herself to picking tomatoes during the day or, in the afternoon, to clean the offices of a bank, in the city of Pueblo (Colorado), to survive.

He composed his first song at the age of 14 there in his native house. It was the thirties of the last century. He learned music, he played the piano and the guitar. He loved to sing. It was his desire.

He told his father, after finishing high school, that he wanted to dedicate himself to music. It could not be.

Her father, a very traditional man, told her no way, that this was not an appropriate life for a woman. “You sing for the family, not for the world,” she commanded. And she obeyed: “I loved him very much.”

He parked his dream and married at the age of 19. She had four children (three boys and a girl). When Castroism triumphed, she and her husband Orlando, a sugar engineer, came to the conclusion that they should leave the island and try the adventure in the United States.

That’s the tragic part. She was running in 1962. Her husband, because of her work, was vetoed. Already at the José Martí airport in Havana, they also prevented her, who allowed her children (from 4 to 15 years old) to undertake the trip. Although it took him a few months, Álvarez landed in Miami.

Her children were in an orphanage in Pueblo, although due to her lack of means, she could not claim them. He settled there and, after two years without seeing them, he managed to visit them. He went every weekend to sing his creations and impregnate them with their origins.

Finally, in 1966, her husband managed to make the journey. Reunited, they settled in Baton Rouge. They were happy as a family until Orlando died of cancer in 1977 at the age of 53. His daughter, Maria, passed away in 1999.

He maintains that thanks to music – “it is the language of the soul” – he managed to overcome misfortunes. But as she was ordered by her father, her music was enjoyed only by her family and friends.

Everything could have stayed there and there would be no nomination, no tributes, no obituary (the day it touches). Eight years ago, however, his grandson decided to record his songs at home, just to save the memory. He was surprised at how good his “angelic voice” sounded.

In the process, she discovered her grandmother’s frustrated vocation and that her songs were like a diary of her life. So he took her to Los Angeles, where he resides, and he put her in a real, professional studio.

The fruit was filed away, until friends encouraged him to bring it to light. His colleague, actor Andy Garcia, was enthused. He played the bongos in the concert that Álvarez offered at the Avalon theater in the Californian city, produced the documentary Miss Angela (2021), about his life journey, and offered him a small role (Aunt Pili ), in a new version of The Father of the bride (2022).

And so, to the Latin Grammys. “If my father were there, he would be proud,” he says. He would have forgiven his disobedience.