There was a surprise in store for a Mexican musician Sunday at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
Mariachi and ranchera singer Aida Cuevas took home a Grammy in the best regional Mexican music album category for her Arriero Somos Versiones Acústicas album.
Her win was a surprise because she was nominated among genre favorites including Banda El Recodo de Cruz Lizárraga and Julión Álvarez.
Most notably, Cuevas is now an independent artist, and her album, a collection of covers performed with only guitar accompaniment, was released under her own label.
“I’m very proud to be Mexican and to be here with my charrera outfit,” Cuevas told the entertainment magazine Billboard, referring to the traditional embroidered charro outfit she wore to pick up her first-ever Grammy.
She later spoke with the newspaper Milenio, stating that “as a representative of ranchera music I feel doubly proud, because I’m the first female Mexican ranchera singer to win a Grammy . . . this is a milestone in my career.”
She recalled a similar milestone eight years ago when her De corazón a corazón . . . Mariachi tango album earned her a Latin Grammy.
Cuevas has earned more than 300 awards in her 42-year career, but Sunday’s was “certainly special.”
“It’s the greatest award in [the music industry] . . . It is very important and I was very fortunate to win one,” she said.
Known as “the queen of ranchera music,” Cuevas has released 39 albums, selling more than 7 million copies worldwide.
It was the second Grammy in the regional Mexican music category to be won by a Mexican woman in recent years. Lila Downs won the award in 2012.
Cuevas lamented that traditional music “is not listened to, receives poor promotion and gets little support,” and that it’s only after musicians win awards abroad that Mexicans turn around and see in a good way what is happening at the national level.
Cuevas will celebrate her win on Valentine’s Day with a concert at the Lunario del Auditorio Nacional, part of a series of events known as Cabaret Lunario.
“I hope people will come so I can talk about that [Grammy] night.”