Spanish Harlem Orchestra scores 3rd straight Grammy nomination

Another album, another Grammy nod


New York’s Spanish Harlem Orchestra scored its third consecutive Grammy nomination on Thursday for its acclaimed album “United We Swing.”

“We are so excited,” said bandleader Oscar Hernández. “It’s our third CD and our third nomination, so it couldn’t have worked out better.”

The Best Tropical Album nod for the 13-member ensemble follows a 2005 Grammy win for “Across 110th St.,” recorded with salsa legend Rubén Blades as guest vocalist, and a 2003 nomination for their debut album “Un Gran Día en El Barrio.”

“This recognition is important because, at the end of the day, you’re not making much money with these records, especially these days,” Hernández says.

He adds that he was confident the album released in May was good, but wasn’t sure about the reception it would get.

“In a way, I was worried,” he says. “I knew in my heart the record is second to none in terms of quality, if not the best, but you never know.”

A pianist, arranger and producer, Hernández started SHO in 2000. Since then, the group has become a sort of world ambassador of New York City salsa.

“We get more recognition from world audiences than among Latinos,” he says.

Despite their success, Hernández said salsa is in a “very bad” state in New York.

“It’s like trying to resurrect the dead,” he said. “There is a new generation now, doing different stuff. But I think that, worldwide, there is a growing audience.”

At the 50th Grammy Awards, which will take place Feb 10 in Los Angeles, SHO will compete with such heavyweights as merengue superstar Juan Luis Guerra — who last month won five Latin Grammys — and Puerto Rico’s iconic salsa band, El Gran Combo.

Also nominated for Best Tropical Album is a Havana-based band, Cubanísimo, and Isaac Delgado, who fled Cuba last year.

But Hernández is far from intimidated.

“The last time it was even worse! We contended with salseros Marc Anthony, Victor Manuelle and Gilberto Santa Rosa. Do you think I expected we would win? But we did.”


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