Dear Grammy Awards: A Letter From a Colombian Musician

Pedro Ojeda is a Colombian musician, member of many influential bands, such as Los Pirañas, Romperayo, Ondatrópica and Chúpame El Dedo. Last year, the song “Universos Paralelos” by the Uruguayan Jorge Drexler and the Chilean Ana Tijoux, was awarded a Latin Grammy as “record of the year.”

Recently, Ojeda received a diploma from the Grammys for being part of the group of musicians who worked on the recording of the song. This prompted him to write a heartfelt note to the Grammy Awards on his Facebook profile, which we now translate and share:

Dear Grammy Award:

Thank you for sending me this nice diploma to my house (for having been part of the album of my friend Drexler, who is a great guy, following the call of my pal [Mario] Galeano [from Frente Cumbiero, Ondatrópica, and others, and one of the producers of Drexler’s Bailando en la cueva album], who is also a great guy). Nonetheless, I would like to take advantage of this situation to propose a debate about the, in my humble opinion, inordinate relevance you have in the life of many musicians from my country (and from many other countries).

While the recognition you give to highlighted artists and to high quality music recordings (even though I have never liked any kind of competition), I am very worried about the fact that many musicians from my generation, specially the youngest ones, see you as their god, as the only longed-for goal, that they think the only way to succeed in life is through your validation, and that their only life dream is to go to your house in Las Vegas and take a picture with you.

This pyramidal, lazy and monothematic cultural phenomenon tends to disconnect many young people from their environment and their local-artistic, cultural and political problematics. It also makes them underestimate and negate the great musical and cultural value of their history and surroundings, and of the great deal of musical masters and cultivators from their country, who have never played, and possibly will never play, on your red carpet, nor will they be part of your chosen ones and nominees because they are not part of your allies, giant record labels (or majors), and they don’t have the money to be part of your showroom.

These young people I speak of, blinded by your recognition, also don’t notice the great amount of festivals, musics, melodies, rhythms, repertoires, musical and cultural circuits that exist in Colombia and Latin America, just as in the rest of the world, different from the standards that are heard and managed in your awards and in your circuit.

This is why I think is of vital importance that, in every town and city, we stop looking only towards your house in Las Vegas, so we can begin to look at each other and start to get rid of this third-world burden on top of us.

Thank you for your attention,

Your friend,


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