British Columbia

Alex Cuba scores Grammy Award for album recorded in his B.C. home

This is the first Grammy win for the Canadian Cuban musician, who won best Latin pop album for Mendó.

The Canadian Cuban musician won best Latin pop album for Mendó

B.C.-based Cuban-Canadian musician Alex Cuba won the best Latin pop album Grammy award over the weekend. (Sarah Goodacre)

Alex Cuba was driving through a snowstorm near Quesnel, B.C., Sunday night when his name rang out a couple of thousand kilometres to the south at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas .

The Afro-Cuban singer, born Alexis Puentes, was returning home with his wife and youngest son after two nights performing with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra when he became a Grammy award winner for the best Latin pop album of the year, Mendó.

Shortly after heavy snow began falling, Cuba said he received a phone call from his New York publicist who shared news of his first Grammy win.

"I'm still in a little bit of a shock I think. It was very surreal," said the artist, reacting to his win Monday on CBC's B.C. Today.

Cuba said he started "freaking out" with excitement after receiving the news, before pulling into Quesnel and calling his parents. His father, he said, is responsible for teaching him music and that phone call was "so full of incredible happiness."

Cuba commissioned Brianna McCarthy, an artist from Trinidad and Tobago, to illustrate the cover of Mendó to reflect his African heritage. (Brianna McCarthy)

"Mendó,," which he said loosely translates to the "substance of the soul," was recorded in his living room in Smithers, B.C., during the COVID-19 pandemic with the assistance of engineer John (Beetle) Bailey.

One pandemic silver lining, said Cuba, is that he learned how to engineer his own music and says that has "opened a lot of creative doors." He is starting construction next month on his own studio to be able to do it more often.

Cuba has lived in Canada for over 22 years and has won multiple Latin Grammy Awards — a separate competition than the U.S.-based Grammys — as well as several Juno Awards.

He told CBC when his album was released last May that his music has become more socially conscious and features special recognition of his own Afro-Cuban heritage.

Cuba commissioned Brianna McCarthy, an artist from Trinidad and Tobago, to illustrate the cover of Mendó to reflect his African heritage.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press and B.C. Today

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