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Toronto artist, musician Lido Pimienta takes Grammy hoopla in stride

Toronto-based musician Lido Pimienta says she's surprised and honoured to score a Grammy nomination for her second album, "Miss Colombia.

Toronto-based musician Lido Pimienta says she's surprised and honoured to score a Grammy nomination for her second album, "Miss Colombia."

But mostly, she's proud that she earned recognition in the best Latin rock or alternative album category without compromising her vision.

Reached at her Toronto art studio, Pimienta said Tuesday she's not one to focus on awards and only learned of her nomination when her manager called, "freaking out."  

Pimienta called it a "great honour," but took the hoopla in stride. 

"It feels really good to know that I was able to make an album, or a pop album, that didn't subscribe to the formulas or pressures of big labels or anything like that," said Pimienta, a critical favourite whose first album, "La Papessa," won Canada's prestigious Polaris Prize in 2017.  

"It gives me and people who are coming behind me — the next generation of artists — (the confidence) that you can be an artist. You don't necessarily have to be an entertainer to have a career and be recognized in these big arenas. So yeah, I'm extremely proud."

The Colombian-born musician takes the spotlight alongside a healthy list of Canuck talent in an array of categories.

Justin Bieber is the leading Canadian nominee with four nominations, Montreal producer Kaytranada picked up three nods — including one in the banner category best new artist — while Toronto rapper Drake scored three nominations.

Pimienta's album "Miss Colombia" has drawn critical accolades for its deft mix of genres and heady commentary on race, gender, and beauty.

She says her daughter inspired most of the album, but so, too, did memories of her own childhood. She describes her younger self as a girl who "didn't necessarily feel that she was beautiful, didn't necessarily feel that she was smart."  

"I was taught that little girls that look like me weren't worthy, you know, so I'm honouring that girl now, and I am honouring so many girls like me now," said Pimienta, who is of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Wayuu descent.

"I get so many videos from children dancing to the songs, singing the music and their moms are messaging me and telling me: 'Thank you so much.'"

Pimienta said she's been busy during the pandemic — drawing and creating art to sell as part of a COVID relief fundraiser that also has a GoFundMe page. She said the money will support families suffering food insecurity in villages along the northern coast of Colombia where she was born. In December, she hopes to organize a toy drive.

She said this is the kind of work that motivates her most, and she hopes Grammy attention helps vault the beauty of traditional music from the African and Indigenous diaspora.

"I want to be associated with art until the day that I die, and after I die. I want to leave a legacy behind me of beautiful art and beautiful pieces that have something to say. And 'Miss Colombia' has most definitely accomplished that," she said.          

Still, Pimienta is not immune to the allure of Grammy glitz. 

She said she'd love to attend the awards gala, if one takes place next year.

"I hope it's safe to go, and I would most, most definitely love to go because I feel like it's such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And, you know, hopefully Rihanna is there," she chuckled.

 The 63rd Grammy Awards air January 31st on CBS and Citytv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press