With its second-annual La Musa Awards gala, the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame is inviting people to get on their feet as they induct the legendary Queen of Latin music: Gloria Estefan.
It wasn't until 2012 that music producers and songwriters Rudy Perez and Desmond Child collaborated for the first time and birthed a hall of fame dedicated to recognizing Latin talent. We Latinos, we're loud by nature, so it's not in our blood to allow ourselves to not be heard -- especially when it comes to music.
After dreaming for more than 18 years of an organization that would be dedicated to recognizing fellow Latino songwriters, Perez finally took the initiative and created one himself. Born out of his love and admiration for those who paved the way for contemporary Hispanic songwriting, Perez opened the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame (LSHOF) along with Child two years ago.
Child recalls when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City, and after joining the board of directors he began to wonder where all the Latinos were.
"I noticed there were so few Latins inducted to the Hall of Fame, so I asked what we could do to have more Latinos represented, and that's when they told me about Rudy," Child says. "Rudy and I had never collaborated before, even though when I lived in Miami, we were six blocks away from each other. He had his world and I had mine, so we weren't really competitors, but it was wonderful to join with him and his wife, Betsey, and create the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame."
Pausing to collect his thoughts, Child explains how in 2012 he lost his mother, Elena Casals, who was not only a beloved mother to him but also a beloved poet and songwriter to others. "She was always an advocate for songwriter rights, so I wanted to do something to honor her memory."
Perez comments how it was a turning point for him when Child initially called him up four years ago to discuss the LSHOF. "He was as passionate as I was about the initiative, so we joined forces and made it happen." The final step was getting approval from the board of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City, and Perez and Child's labor of love became a reality.
Much as award shows serve to recognize and celebrate industry members, having a space Latinos get to call their own and celebrate their own is incredibly important. Being the first of its kind also makes LSHOF extra special because it not only honors the past and present Latin songwriters but also inspires and develops future ones, says Perez.
"Our mission is to honor, preserve, and celebrate the body of work of all Latin songwriters from every Latin country and in every genre of Latin music. The LSHOF is very important for the documentation of our Latin music history for generations to come."
Chiming in, Child adds that it's "because there's such a rich culture and history to our music... it's important that we recognize the music creators and especially the Latin ones who are the real unsung heroes -- no pun intended."
Of course, the decision to house the Hall of Fame in Miami was perhaps the easiest of all. For one thing, Perez and his wife live here, and Child once called it home too.
"Both Desmond and I grew up here in Miami; our roots are planted here -- this is where we began our careers," says Perez passionately. "Being Cuban immigrants, we're very grateful to this country and to Miami for everything it has done for us, and that's why there was never a doubt in our minds that Miami would be the home of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame."
"Miami is a cultural mecca for Latin music," adds Child, saying how plenty of Latino superstars have second homes here and often visit Miami during their Latin American tours. "Also because of the large Hispanic population and because Rudy is there, it made the most sense."
On Saturday, October 18, the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame will hold its second-annual induction gala, titled La Musa. The awards ceremony got its name from a piece of art that was inspired by Child's mother. In 1954, an American sculptress, Lee Burnhan, sculpted a statue of Casals in clay and called it La Musa -- "and so it all just came together, and La Musa has actually been resculpted as the inductee and special award trophy."
Songwriters Rafael Perez Botija, Omar Alfanno, Lolita De La Colina, and Gloria Estefan will be honored as the latest inductees. These four additions will be representing their countries of origin: Spain, Panama, Mexico, and Cuba, respectively.
Perez and Child agree that the four new inductees have left quite a mark in the Latin music world, but perhaps the biggest name -- especially for Miamians -- is Estefan.
"Gloria is one of my musicals heroes, not only as a performer but also as a great songwriter. She has opened doors for a lot of people here in Miami -- she makes us all proud to be from Miami!" gushes Perez, adding how he still hopes to work with the Conga singer one day.
Though Perez and Child couldn't share many details regarding Estefan's tribute during Saturday's gala, the two producers know that it is going to be truly special -- especially since it will be her husband, fellow music producer and legend Emilio Estefan, who inducts her into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Estefan is perhaps one of the few Latin artists who has been able to hold a successful career in both the Spanish-language and English markets. Child calls her the "founding mother of modern Latin crossover music" and concludes by saying, "Gloria and Emilio are unstoppable -- they just keep expanding to new heights."
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For those young singer/songwriters performing today in hopes of one day gracing the LSHOF, Perez advises them to learn from the greats, whereas Child reminds you to never forget the love of the craft. "If you love music and you want to be a music creator, do it for the love of it, and the more love you put into it, the more successful you'll be."
Currently, there is no physical museum where people can visit, but Perez assures Crossfade that establishing an interactive museum in Miami is part of their immediate future plans.