Latin Grammys Best New Artist Nominees Reflect on the Importance of Recognition

Last Thursday (Nov. 17), the 23rd edition of the Latin Grammy Awards was full of exciting moments and surprises. John Legend joined Sebastian Yatra on stage to sing “Tacones Rojos” for the first time live; Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro turned heads at the red carpet with serious power couple looks; and Los Bukis, led by the charismatic person of the year, Marco Antonio Solís, inspired the nigiht’s biggest sing-along with “Tu Cárcel” as the closing number. 

In addition, first-time Latin Grammy winners Angela Álvarez and Silvana Estrada, 95 and 25, respectively, tied in one of the most important categories of the night for best new artist, which marked another special moment. 

But beyond receiving a Latin Grammy, the best new artist nominees celebrated their Latin Recording Academy recognition as a victory.

Before the winners were announced, Billboard Español spoke with Estrada, Pol Granch, Nicole Zignago and Sofia Campos about what it means to them to receive the endorsement from one of music’s most prestigious institutions. They also shared some advice for those starting out in the business.

Silvana Estrada

One of the two winners for best new artist searched for her inner voice, recorded it on her soulful Glassnote Records debut, Marchita, and her poetic revolution began instantly. Her voice, often accompanied by the cuatro, is simply a powerful instrument, while her lyrics are at times reminiscent of Latin American greats like Chavela Vargas or Mercedes Sosa.

How does it feel to have your work recognized by the Latin Recording Academy?

It’s beautiful. I have been working on turbo for many years, so this whole experience has been very nice. All the work I do, I do it thinking of my audience, my shows, my music. Sometimes I’m like a horse [with blinders], I don’t look to the sides because I want to concentrate on my own thing, and I don’t pay attention to everything else that happens. These [Latin] Grammys are very nice because I feel very appreciated and recognized by people in the industry, who in the end are the people who really know the work behind things. I feel very grateful to all these people who are paying attention to my work, and who are also recognizing my effort.

What advice would you give to an upcoming artist who dreams of being nominated for a Latin Grammy?

For someone who is just starting out, you have to focus on the music first. It is very easy to get distracted. But if you have a good song, if you put a lot of effort and hard work into [putting together] a solid project, if you have a song that moves you, or a beat that makes you dance — you do it for the quality of the music, and everything else will follow. On the other hand, if the order of these factors is reversed, then it’s not so good.

Pol Granch

Pol Granch has a captivating flamboyance that simply mesmerizes, and when you pair that with his neon-hued provocative electro-pop — as heard in tracks off his 2022 album Amor Escupido — it all comes together and you’re instantly a fan. Although at times he reminds of a young Miguel Bosé, the Madrid artist claims influences by the likes of SoundCloud legends like the late Lil Peep.

How does it feel to be recognized by the Latin Recording Academy?

Complete gratitude because, in one way or another, they have recognized my work and it makes me have more motivation, more self-confidence, and much more desire to move forward.

What advice would you give to an emerging artist who is starting their career in music?

I always say this, but it’s the truth: If this is your dream, if you can imagine such a thing, you can become it 100%. To keep pushing forward despite any negative thing that can happen along the way. You have to know from the very first moment that if you want to work in this, you will face the opinions of everyone, and well, that’s what it is. But always go forward, like a racehorse.

Nicole Zignago

Zignago went from being a behind-the-scenes creator to becoming her own spotlight. She began making a name for herself co-writing hits for Sofia Reyes and Mariah Angeliq. As a solo artist, the Peruvian singer-songwriter caused hype with her 2022 debut EP, Así me siento hoy, a deliciously sensual slice of electro-pop.

What went through your head when you heard about your nomination? 

What can I say? It was crazy. I was literally in bed, it was early in the morning and I was watching the nominations. They called my name right at the end of the category. So it was a huge surprise. I cried. My family called me, my friends, and my head exploded. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was very little. The fact that I was nominated in this category is super important, because it is a nomination that only happens once in a lifetime — once you are nominated for another category, you can no longer be nominated for best new artist. The fact that my first nomination is in this [category] is a huge blessing, and I’m super-happy.

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out and wants to make music as a career?

I would tell them to have a very clear north, to know very well what they want to do. I know that this may change over the years. The way to reach that north can always change but have a purpose. That will always make them find their core, and it will guide them to where they need to go in this career.

The heart and instinct are also very important. To surround themselves with good people — people who really love them and want to see them succeed. To have a lot of patience and discipline. To know that this is a 25/8 job, not 24/7. Remember to be present and grateful, because this road goes by very fast and if they choose this career, it will go by even faster because it is a lot of work. To give themselves time to rest. To give it their all, like jumping into a swimming pool without knowing what is going to happen. That’s how I describe it: like jumping into the void, but with a lot of conviction, knowing that this is for you.

Sofía Campos

When listening to her gorgeous blend of lackadaisical yet joyful pop, it’s clear that the Argentinian singer-songwriter is not afraid to bare her heart. Her second 2021 release, Lugares Imaginarios, is the kind of album that sparks curiosity with inquisitive musings, accompanied by her beautiful acoustic guitar strumming.

How does it feel to receive this recognition from the Latin Recording Academy?

It feels like a gift from music and for my effort. I always wanted to make songs with a lot of love, and suddenly the [love] comes right back. It feels very special, like something that will never be repeated.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in music? 

I don’t feel like I’m in the position of giving someone advice. But I can share things that I say to myself, like trying not to lose focus. I think it’s important to remember why you’re doing things, like why you’re making songs, why you want to sing, why you want to upload this song to [music] platforms, why you want to do this concert. It’s good to connect with the important reasons, like why you enjoy singing. Because it’s what makes you happy. 

To not get lost in some of the colder things of the industry, like numbers — whether it’s the number of listeners, money, tickets, and whether it’s sold out or not. I feel like those will make you frustrated or stressed, but they are a good way to guide your decisions. Focus your frustrations on the things that are worthwhile, and not on what’s not worthwhile. Connect with the essence of why you do things, and the real reason. 

All interviews were originally conducted in Spanish.

Isabela Raygoza