Berklee student and LAMBA (Latin American Music Business Association) president Luis Galeana write about his experience at the Latin Grammys in December 2012. Read more about LAMBA and Berklee at the Latin Grammy on Berklee Blogs. Read more on . Read more about Latin Music Studies at Berklee or watch a video about the programs on

Sophie Maricq, Luis Galeana, Milton Nascimento, and Marco Flores

It was early September; I went with Oscar Stagnaro (Latin Music Studies Faculty Advisor) to greet Colombian Marimba player Diego Obregón. Diego was the opening clinician for this year’s Latin Music & Culture Celebration (LMCC) and Oscar invited me to see him play. I told Oscar that I’ve been talking recently with Peter Alhadeff (Faculty, Music Business) regarding my project of reconnecting Berklee with the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (LARAS). Berklee had so many things going on regarding Latin music: The LMCC is an ever-growing festival, the Latin Music Studies program was just inaugurated and the Berklee Valencia Campus in Spain had an amazing kick off, we needed to reconnect with LARAS. 

Connecting The Dots

On middle October, Marco Flores (CWP Student, LAMBA Vice President) and I received a confirmation of attendance by Alejandro Abaroa (A&R WMG Latina) and Cristina Abaroa (CEO, Moon Moosic) to come to Berklee for a Music Business clinic. As part of her extensive curriculum, Cristina has been the person in charge of the Latin Grammy Person of The Year production for the last 3 years, and this year she was going to be there for the show to honor Caetano Veloso. Alejandro Abaroa’s group Jessie & Joy was nominated for 6 Latin Grammys so he was also going to be there.

Now we not only had a story with the Latin Recording Academy; we had the contacts (Oscar Stagnaro & Peter Alhadeff) and the clinicians that LAMBA was bringing were involved in the Latin Grammys of this year. Now there were no more excuses, we had to go! Thanks to Oscar Stagnaro, on Wednesday October 31st, I received an invitation letter by Luis Dousdebes (CFO, LARAS) to attend the XIII Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, NV on November 15th, 2012. Thanks to Carl Beatty (Chief Of Staff, Berklee College of Music), Berklee Valencia Office, and Tom Riley (Vice President, External Affairs), Sophie Maricq (Communications Manager for Global Initiatives, Berklee Valencia), Marco Flores and I could attend the Latin Grammys as Berklee representatives to reconnect LARAS with Berklee, and start a relationship between LARAS and Berklee Valencia.

Marco Flores, Cristina Abaroa, and Alejandro Abaroa at the XIII Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards

Among The Stars

On Wednesday November 14th, we attended to the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards. The president of LARAS, Gabriel Abaroa, gave a speech to welcome all the invitees, introduce the executive board, and to introduce this year’s honorees: Milton Nascimento, Luz Casal, Rita Moreno, Daniela Romo, Yomo Toro (R.I.P.), Poncho Sanchez, Leo Dan and Juan “Habichuela” Carmona.

Antonio Carmona (on behalf of Juan “Habichuela”), Minerva Toro & Denise Toro (on behalf of Yomo Toro R.I.P.), Milton Nascimento, Rita Moreno, Luz Casal, Poncho Sanchez, Daniela Romo, and Leo Dan at the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony was an invite-only event, it was very private and to my surprise, a very intimate and honest ceremony. All the honorees and executive members of the Latin Recording Academy were very humble, kind and approachable people. After the ceremony there was a luncheon where you could be seated next to these legends! Once you are in that circle you are one of them, so having the opportunity to be among Latin Grammy award nominees, producers and great people inside the business treating us as equals gave me a great lesson: Never stop being humble. Luis Dousdebes said to me:

“Learn from these people. Even though they are legends, they haven’t lost their simplicity and humbleness. That’s why they are legends and that’s why they are where they are!”

I had the opportunity the humble side of not only the artists, but also of the Latin Recording Academy. It was a surprise to see that the non-televised events were the ones that the Latin Recording Academy took the most care of. These invite-only events were truly for the music: No TV, no gimmicks, just talent, humbleness and real music. In the words of Sebastian Krys (Producer/Mixer, Multi Grammy Award Winner, Multi Latin Grammy Award Winner) and Luis Cobos (Chief of Executive Board, LARAS):

“This is the heart of the academy! This is why we do these things, to honor these people. Seeing all these people being really touched and passionate about being honored by us is a real privilege. We may not be as big as MTV and those things, but we are here for the music and to honor the music, and that is invaluable.”

As an almost graduated Berklee student, hearing that the people on top of the music industry still care about the music was very touching, inspiring, and something I definitely needed to hear.

Luis Galeana and Luis Dousdebes

Planting Seeds

Far from the glamour of walking the Heineken green carpet and attending the Latin Grammy award show, our goal as the Berklee ambassadors was to reconnect LARAS with Berklee and to create new relationships for Berklee Valencia.

As soon as the luncheon was over on Wednesday, Sophie Maricq didn’t waste any time approaching people to talk about Berklee Valencia and its initiatives. Even though we were in a room full of who’s who of the Latin music industry, the opener “I’m from Berklee” worked in great favor for us! Read about Sophie’s experience at the Latin Grammys here.

We had the chance to talk with Antonio Carmona, (one of the great exposers of the new flamenco-fusion genre, and son of great Flamenco guitar player Juan “Habichuela” Carmona) regarding visit of himself and his father to the Berklee Valencia campus.

Marco Flores, Sophie Maricq, Luz Casal, and Luis Galeana

We also reconnected with Leila Cobo (Executive Director of Latin Content, programming and entertainment for Billboard). I had met her during the Latin Billboard Conference & Awards back in April, and it was a great surprise to see her again. She is an advocate of helping students and I’ve seen some Berklee columns inside the Billboard magazine in her section “Latin Notas”, but now we talked about working on a collaboration between Billboard Latin and Berklee Valencia. We also had the chance to talk with Spanish singer and icon Luz Casal. I was able to speak also with Luis Dousdebes and he was more than happy to, once again, come to Berklee with other LARAS’s executives for a panel about the state of the industry and the Latin Grammy voting process.

Knowing that now we not only have started some business relationships, but that we also planted the seeds for future projects it’s what made this trip worth it!

The easiness, the reception we had and the fact they would ask us for OUR contact information instead of the other way was one of the best rewards of this trip. John Kellogg (Assistant Chair, Music Business Department) said: “To make it in the music industry you need 90% business, and 10% talent.”

After being at the Latin Billboard C&A in April, and the networking we did at the Latin Grammys, I can say that he is absolutely right. The networking is key to make it in this business, and all the best places for networking at the Latin Grammys happen the day before the Award show. The most important and beautiful of LARAS will not be televised, will be exclusive and by invitation only, people won’t know about these things, but once you manage to get in that circle, you’re in. We managed to get in there, now we have to work to stay there, as Oscar Stagnaro said: “It’s very easy to lose it and very hard to win it”.

Marco Flores, Sophie Maricq, and Luis Galeana at the XIII Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards