October 6, 2015
National Hispanic Heritage Month is underway (it runs from September 15-October 15) and we recently had a chance to speak with SoundExchange Member and 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY® Nominee, Leslie Grace, about her music, her inspiration and her place as a Hispanic woman in the music industry. Check out our Q&A with the up and coming Latin superstar below.
SoundExchange: Can you please tell us a little bit about your background? Where were you born? How did you first get into music? When did you know music was going to be your career? Who has inspired you musically?
Leslie Grace: I’m from New York and born of two lovely Dominican parents.
My inclination towards music was evident from a very young age. There was always music in my household and my family began to notice that I would try to sing before I could even speak . They even have videos of me at two years old trying to sing La India songs! I’d say that at about six years of age when my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I was older, I voiced my dream to be a “singer” followed by an interpretation of “Oops I Did it Again.” My sisters and cousins replied with a laugh and told me I didn’t know how to sing. From then on I made it known that I did [know how to sing] and I was ready to prove it.
My musical inspirations come from all kinds of artists –from Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, and Maxwell to Juan Luis Guerra, Selena Quintanilla, and Gloria Estefan.
SX: Congratulations on your 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY® nominations for Best Contemporary Tropical Album (Lloviendo Estrellas) and Best Tropical Song (“Cómo Duele El Silencio”)! How does it feel to be recognized in this way? What do these nominations mean to you and your journey as a musician?
LG: Thank you! It was such an unexpected honor to be nominated twice! Deep inside I hoped for it but you just never know. I think there’s definitely a beauty to not knowing or expecting gratifying rewards like these.
The nominations are another huge step in my journey. It’s the first time I have multiple nominations and I am the only female nominated in both categories. Considering the standard at which the board members of the Academy hold this nomination process, to be a double nominee is very encouraging. It speaks volumes of how much I’ve personally grown as an artist. I, alongside my team, have definitely been putting in the work behind the scenes and milestones like this one remind me it is never in vain.
SX: We’re in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Considering your Dominican roots, why were you inspired to record a Spanish language album? Your radio single “Como Duele El Silencio” includes a verse in English. Does singing in Spanish evoke a different feeling or emotion than when you sing in English?
LG: I have always wanted to use the advantages of my heritage and culture [in my music] and I’m very aware that my Latin American attributes are something that many others of my generation can relate to. Growing up in a Hispanic home with certain values and customs and also living in an American environment allows me the ability to use both those worlds to my advantage.
In my most recent EP and my previous album, I wanted to make that clear through my music. In the same way I express myself in both languages naturally when I speak, my music should also directly reflect that same sort of expression through song. I’d say there are some things that evoke a more passionate or romantic sentiment in Spanish and the same vice versa depending on what I’m singing!
SX: Can you talk a little about the importance of an organization like SoundExchange in the music industry?
LG: An organization that is after the best interest of the artist and their rights, as SoundExchange is, should be applauded, appreciated, and valued. Before registering with SoundExchange I remember, like many other developing artists, that I had no idea how I could possibly track all my royalties. SoundExchange makes sure we are covered. With SoundExchange on our side, we don’t have to worry about missing out on any money earned from the use of our work.
SX: Lastly, what makes you most proud to be a Hispanic woman in the music industry today? How do you think your presence in the Bachata genre inspires your fans?
LG: I’m most proud to be a Hispanic woman in the music industry today because in this day and age I am free to express myself, to challenge the status quo and inspire other young women to do the same and more if they have a passion to do so.
I’d like to think my presence in the genre of Bachata as a young woman (considering it is a male dominated genre) has in some way been instrumental for any other women who strive every day to earn a position in which a man has at some time denied them. I hope that my fans, GraceNation, not only enjoy my music but are also encouraged by my journey.