Woman Forbidden From Being a Musician as a Child Releases Album at 95 and Wins Latin Grammy


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We’re often told that there's no age limit to chase your goals, but it's truly inspiring to see someone achieve them later in life—especially if they are 95 years old. Angela Alvarez is a Cuban-born singer and songwriter who, after putting aside her dream of pursuing a career in entertainment for decades, finally released her debut album in 2021. Now, she has just won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist.

Alvarez grew up surrounded by music. “When I was a child, I had two aunts who played the piano and they taught me to sing. When there was a family reunion, I was the artist. They made me dresses and I always liked to perform,” she told Billboard. Once she graduated from school, she told her father she wanted to become a professional singer. However, he forbade her from doing so, as it was only ok for her to sing for her family, not for the whole world. Eventually, she got married and found happiness in raising her four children.

Life wasn't easy for Alvarez, but music was always there to keep her company and bring her solace. From the moment she put her kids on a plane bound to the U.S.—for them to escape the rise of communism while she remained in Cuba—to then leaving the country herself and wondering if she would ever see her beloved homeland again, she was comforted by music. She also had to face the premature death of her husband and her only daughter, both to cancer.

She poured her feelings into thoughtful music and lyrics inspired by Cuban boleros and sones, writing moving autobiographical tunes she would sing to her family, who were used to seeing her playing her guitar. With time, her kids had kids, and one of her grandchildren, Carlos José Alvarez, grew up to be a music producer. When he found out that his grandma had written over 50 songs throughout her life, he knew something had to be done. “She took out all these notebooks and when she started playing the songs for me, I realized then that she was a frustrated artist. I didn't know this about her,” Carlos José told CNN. “I knew that she could sing, that she had an incredible voice, I knew that she had some songs, but I didn't know that she was an artist.”

The grandson called his nana, and asked her if she would be interested in going to a studio and recording her songs. “And her answer was ‘Carlos, my dream is to leave this life knowing that somehow my music would last.' And that was the beginning”, Carlos José said in an interview. The project came to a halt as he waited for the right time to do it, but a friend of his gave him a wake up call by asking him “Are you waiting for her to die?”

Alvarez's story even caught the attention of actor Andy García, who decided to become the executive producer and narrator of Miss Angela, a documentary about this amazing woman and the recording process of her 15-song debut album. He also invited her to appear in the 2022 reboot of the movie Father of the Bride. “Her story just blew me away. She represents a generation, perhaps our greatest generation of Cubans,” said the actor.

The dream reached new heights as she became nominated for a Latin Grammy, in which she shared a category with singers as young as 17 years old. At the ceremony, it was announced that there had been a a tie between Alvarez and Mexican singer Silvana Estrada. Once she took to the stage to accept her award, she gave an inspiring speech that brought tears to the eyes of her fellow musicians. “I want to dedicate this award to God and to my beloved homeland, Cuba, which I will never forget. Also to those who have not achieved their dream, although life is difficult, there is always a way out, and with faith and love they can achieve it. I promise, it's never too late.”

Angela Alvarez is a Cuban-born singer just won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist at age 95 after releasing her debut album in 2021.

Angela Alvarez Becomes Renowned Singer at 95 Years Old and Wins a Grammy

Cover art of Angela Alvarez's debut album

Although she wanted to become a professional singer since she was little, her father forbade her from pursuing a career in entertainment, thus putting her dreams aside.

Her grandson, a music producer, learned she had written over 50 songs over the course of her life, and helped her achieve her dream of becoming a recording artist.

“To those who have not achieved their dream, although life is difficult, there is always a way out, and with faith and love they can achieve it. I promise, it's never too late,” she said during her Latin Grammy acceptance speech.

Angela Alvarez: Website | Instagram | Spotify
h/t: [Billboard]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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