This year’s Best New Artist nominees at the Latin Grammys — all 10 of them — have roots in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela. Below, we highlight their work and music and what’s going on in the musical minds of these artists who’ll be sharing an international spotlight this week when they meet in Las Vegas.
They’ll walk the green carpet and attend one of the biggest events of their lives on Thursday when the 15th edition of the Latin Grammys air live on Univision. Meet the Best New Artist nominees:
Take a little bit of R&B and mix it with pop, and you’ve got the vocal power of Venezuelan songstress Aneeka. Her debut solo album, Ni Antes…Ni Despues(Not Before…Nor After) has been heard throughout Latin America, including Mexico where the singer’s music has gained traction across the country. Songs like the high-energy and vocally rich “Ojo por Ojo” (Eye for an Eye) have made her one to watch.
A triple threat, Linda Briceño’s smoky voice only elevates her work as a composer and trumpet player. The double nominee is also a contender for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Currently a student at NYU studying jazz, Briceño says that her album Tiempo (Time) is an homage to everything from childhood to the time she left her native Venezuela. “I’ve worked with legends like Arturo Sandoval and I’d like to continue working with those I admire,” she said.
Two nominations distinguish Mexico’s Caloncho, who is also in competition for Best Alternative Music Album. Born Oscar Castro, Caloncho’s EP Fruta (Fruit) was produced by Siddhartha. The project, the singer says, “sounds like everything I have been listening to and filtered during my upbringing covering … Mexican folk songs, the beach … love and life.” This project uses organic sounds and objects not considered musical instruments, such as water and fruit. The nomination means that “I’ll be able to tell my kids [about] this [someday], and my family is proud of me.”
Venezuelan singer/songwriter Julio Cesar’s pop ballads are richly melodic, catchy and inspiring. His music has been recorded by major names from Gilberto Santa Rosa to Luis Enrique. The crooner is also in the running for Best Contemporary Tropical Album for his work on Todo Empieza Soñando (Everthing Starts With a Dream). “I’m thankful to God, my family and all those musicians and friends who have accompanied me through this dream,” Cesar recently said in a published interview.
Spanish singer/songwriter Pablo López has taken it back to basics, and it’s paying off. His album Once Historia y un Piano (Eleven Histories and a Piano) has led to a Best New Artist nomination that will give the crooner a bigger stage as the romantic balladeer with a young and cool edge. As soon as the singer heard about his nomination, he took to Twitter to show his excitement: “More songs…more piano. Thank you to life!” Lopez is signed to Universal.
Not to be confused with Argentina’s electropop group Miranda!, this year’s Best New Artist nominee is an especially soulful singer with a tinge of Taylor Dayneand Anastacia. Miranda, who was the first winner of La Voz Colombia in 2012, is making her own way in music with a vibrant sound, cheerful and wonderful music that will make anyone want to get up and groove. News of her Latin Grammy nomination came in the early morning hours while in Medellin. “I can’t believe it,” the singer said in a YouTube post. “Glory to God and thank you to my label Universal for their support.”
Periko & Jessi León
He’s from Argentina and she’s from Peru. Together, Periko & Jessi Leon are now seeing the world in a different way thanks to their nomination. Their tropical pop music is charming and warm. Hearing about the nomination was “emotional and we cried together,” Jessi said during a recent interview. The duo said they’re proud to represent both Argentina and Peru — as soon as they regain their calm, because the Latin Grammy news literally made them shake with excitement.
A pop singer who blends charm, whimsy and edge in her music, Daniela Spalla is gaining fans around the world for music that’s captivating and accessible thanks to her smooth vocals and catchy hooks. Hailing from Córdoba, Argentina, but living in Mexico, Spalla is one of the freshest voices in music today. Songs like “Folk Japonés,” “Arruinármelo” and “Eterno” are getting noticed in a major way.
Juan Pablo Vega
Colombian crooner Juan Pablo Vega goes deep into his lyrics. His music is modern with a charmingly retro vibe. Already showing his musical leanings by the age of 4, it didn’t take Vega long before he jumped from his Fisher-Price toys to real instruments. Inspired by everyone from the Beatles to Stevie Wonder andQueen, the singer is crafting a career rooted in strong artistry and a refreshing musical approach.
Venezuelan/Canadian singer/songwriter Mariana Vega has two nods, including a Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album nomination for her album Mi Burbuja (My Bubble). She was in bed in her hometown of Caracas when her husband woke her up early in the morning to tell her about the nominations. “It turned out to be really important,” the singer says. “I jumped out of bed doing a flip and landed on my feet screaming.” Vega calls her music “folk pop” and has been influenced by everyone from Alanis Morissette to Julieta Venegas. Who would she love to meet next? Everyone from Mario Domm to Juanes, she says, adding that “it will be a busy [Latin Grammy] night.”