A Latin Grammy Preview From 'Global Village'

Nov 11, 2012
Originally published on November 12, 2012 7:19 am

Each year around this time, weekends on All Things Considered welcomes world music DJ Betto Arcos onto the show to share some of his favorite nominees from this Latin Grammys, the 2012 installment of which is coming up next week. Arcos hosts the program Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles; his picks include singer-songwriters from Mexico and Brazil, a Chilean rapper and a Puerto Rican-American jazz saxophonist. You can hear their conversation by clicking the audio link on this page, and learn more about this year's Latin Grammy contenders over at NPR's Latin alternative music podcast, Alt.Latino.

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Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And if you're just tuning in, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. And it's time now for music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HASTA LA PIEL")

RAZ: And this sound must mean Betto Arcos is with us. Betto, as many of you know, hosts "Global Village" on KPFK in Los Angeles and comes onto this program to talk world music. And this week, we're going to get a preview of the upcoming Latin Grammy Awards. Mexican singer Carla Morrison is one of the artists nominated. This song you're hearing is called "Hasta la Piel." Betto, welcome back to you.

BETTO ARCOS, BYLINE: Great to be with you, Guy.

RAZ: I love this song. Carla Morrison - doesn't sound very Mexican, that name, but she is Mexican.

ARCOS: She is. She's actually from the border town of Tecate which gave the name to the beer...

RAZ: It's a good beer.

ARCOS: ...in Baja, California.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HASTA LA PIEL")

ARCOS: But this song, if anything, it tells you she's Mexican. It is all like - this is sort of like a ranchera.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HASTA LA PIEL")

ARCOS: But a little sped up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HASTA LA PIEL")

ARCOS: And it's very beautiful love song from her album nominated in four categories called "Dejenme Llorar" or "Let Me Cry."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HASTA LA PIEL")

ARCOS: Something even more special is that she is not backed by a major label. She released the album on her own on an independent label. She's really something special. I think she's sort of the new way of approaching music these days.

RAZ: She has a beautiful voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HASTA LA PIEL")

RAZ: All right. That's Mexican singer-songwriter Carla Morrison up for a Grammy at the Latin Grammies this year. Betto, this next track is by an artist who is up for Album of the Year. It's called "Barafunda." And let's take a listen to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARAFUNDA")

RAZ: So, Betto, we've had, like, 15 days of winter here in Washington, D.C., and this is bringing the summer back a little bit.

ARCOS: It sure is. And it's bringing it in the most glorious way because this artist, whose name is Chico Buarque, is from Brazil. And he's playing a most beautiful samba called "Barafunda" from his nominated album in three categories called "Chico."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARAFUNDA")

ARCOS: Chico Buarque is perhaps one of the best-known Brazilian artists bar none. He is, in a sense, an artist that defines Brazilian music the second half of the 20th century.

RAZ: Wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARAFUNDA")

ARCOS: Here's a man who has influenced countless signers and songwriters because he is Rodgers and Hammerstein.

RAZ: Oh, my gosh.

ARCOS: He's at that level.

RAZ: Wow.

ARCOS: He is a giant. And not only that, he's a composer. He writes novels, he writes music for films, and he loves soccer.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARAFUNDA")

RAZ: That's Brazilian singer-songwriter Chico Buarque. He's part of a lineup of nominees at this Thursday's Latin Grammy Awards. We're talking with global music deejay Betto Arcos about some of his favorite artists nominated. And next up, Betto, someone we know - you and I know very well.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SACAR LA VOZ")

ARCOS: Yes, sir. This is none other than Ana Tijoux, fantastic singer/rapper from Chile.

RAZ: Incredible singer.

ARCOS: Oh, yeah. This song is just - it's one of my favorites in this record called "La Bala," and it's just a beautiful song. It's all about speaking out, not being quiet, stepping up and saying what you feel. And it's a duet with another fantastic songwriter from Uruguay, Jorge Drexler.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SACAR LA VOZ")

RAZ: Oh, yes. Who has also been on this program, by the way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SACAR LA VOZ")

RAZ: Yeah, Jorge and Ana. And she - in this record, when we talked about this record, I mean, this song and most of the songs on the record really were inspired by kind of the global unrest and, you know, what happened in Spain and Greece, even the Occupy Wall Street movement. I mean, that was what this whole record was about.

ARCOS: Exactly. And I could argue that it applies to what happened in the elections last week, especially with Latinos.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SACAR LA VOZ")

ANA TIJOUX AND JORGE DREXLER: (singing in Spanish)

RAZ: This song is called "Sacar la Voz." The artist is Ana Tijoux from Chile. Betto, we have time for one more song that'll be featured this week at the Latin Grammys. What do you got?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERDON")

ARCOS: Oh, man. This is just fantastic stuff. This is a record by a saxophonist from Puerto Rico Miguel Zenon. And this is a tribute to the Puerto Rican songbook. And one of the songs that is on this record is called "Perdon" or "Forgiveness."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERDON")

ARCOS: What he's doing here is reinterpreting classic popular songs - some of them are boleros - by five big composers of Puerto Rican music. And one of them is this composer of this song, Pedro Flores, who wrote the song decades ago but it's ingrained in the minds of a lot of people, not just Puerto Ricans, Latin Americans, who grew up listening to these songs throughout the hemisphere. And this rendition is just soulful, beautiful beat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERDON")

RAZ: Betto, there's this kind of great sort of changes in tempo and dynamics, almost like a Gershwinesque kind of sound.

ARCOS: Yeah. You know, what he's doing here is he lays out the melody of the song - the bolero in this case - and then he kind of turns it around and shows you some of the shades in between the words of the lyrics. Just a beautiful, unusual way of reinventing a classic standard of Puerto Rican music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERDON")

RAZ: Puerto Rican jazz artist Miguel Zenon with the tune "Perdon." He's just one of the many artists that are nominated for a Latin Grammy this year. You can hear all of those songs on Betto Arcos' program "Global Village" at KPFK in Los Angeles. Betto, thanks so much.

ARCOS: Always a pleasure, Guy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERDON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.