Guatemalan and 'Angelena' Gaby Moreno celebrates Grammy nominations and a new Americana-rooted album

A new USC study shows women have made significant gains in Grammy nominations in major categories.

Anabel Munoz Image
Sunday, February 4, 2024
Guatemalan Gaby Moreno celebrates Grammy nominations
Her new album "Dusk" is a lifetime in-the-making, and it comes as a new USC study finds women have made significant gains in Grammy nominations in major categories.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Gaby Moreno's new album "Dusk" is a lifetime in-the-making.

"I'm very proud of this on this album. It's my ninth album, and I feel like it's a very personal one," Moreno told Eyewitness News.

The Guatemalan artist fell in love with music, blues and jazz at an early age.

"That's what brought me here to the United States. I just wanted to absorb that music as much as possible," said Moreno.

Twenty-three years later, she's shared the stage with Bono, Andrea Bocelli, and Tracy Chapman, to name a few. Moreno will release "Dusk" on Feb 16. The collection of songs offers a rare musical experience; an Americana-rooted album from a Guatemalteca, taking you through blues, rock 'n' roll, and Latin folk in English and Spanish.

Moreno collaborated with actor and fellow Guatemalan Oscar Isaac. She describes "Luna de Xelajú" as a second anthem in their home country.

"I want it to be recognized all over the world, like a song like 'La Vie en Rose,' or a song like 'La Llorona' or 'The Girl From Ipanema.' It's such a gorgeous melody," said Moreno.

Moreno's music is joyful and nostalgic, intimate and thoughtful. From addressing violence against women to the immigrant experience, Moreno said she wants the world to listen to songs that will make them feel something.

"Especially about this issue that's affecting so many women, I mean all over the world, especially in my country Guatemala. It's a big issue," she said.

Los Angeles has been Moreno's home for roughly two decades now. She describes herself as Guatemalan and an "Angelena."

"I always say I consider myself Angelteca," she said. The term combines both words in Spanish.

The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador from Guatemala -- the first to hold that title -- will perform at the Grammy Awards this weekend. Her album "X Mí Vol. 1" is nominated for Best Latin Pop Album.

"It's an album that I released last year of acoustic songs," said Moreno. "I was very surprised to see it get recognized because it's literally just me in the studio with my acoustic guitar." As a producer, Moreno is also celebrating a Grammy nomination for the album "Vida" by singer Omara Portuondo of the Buena Vista Social Club.

"She's 93 years old and so incredibly inspiring. Nothing is stopping her, and it's been the honor of a lifetime for me to, to have produced her album," said Moreno, adding that she wants to support and produce for more artists.

These are not Moreno's first Grammy nominations and she's already earned several Latin Grammy awards. She is one example of the women and people of color charting a more diverse path in music.

"This year was really an interesting year where we saw for the first time a year of growth," said Dr. Stacy Smith, professor and founder of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. A new study by the initiative that covers 12 years of the Billboard Hot 100 year-end charts found that for the first time in 12 years, the percentage of women songwriters increased.

"It turns out that the increase was almost exclusively due to women of color songwriters being on the charts," said Smith.

"We know that 40% of the U.S. population is underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, and 61% of the charts. So this really shows us the audience for music of artists of color," said Smith. The study also found that woman made significant gains in Grammy nominations in major categories.

Moreno said the nomination is an honor. She's not expecting a win, but the singer-songwriter and producer is expectant of what the future holds.

"I'm excited about what's to come. I hope I always get to be doing this. I love doing music. I love bringing joy to people. I love touching hearts and moving people, and I hope I get to do it for a very long time."