Carlos Odria plays acoustic guitar

Carlos Odria nominated for BMA Latin Artist of the Year

October 18, 2022
By: Deborah O'Neil

Celebrated guitarist and Worcester State University Assistant Professor Carlos Odria is a nominee for this year’s Boston Music Awards Latin Artist of the Year. This marks the third nomination for Odria by the awards that showcase exceptional musical talent in Massachusetts.

Public votes make up 50 percent of the vote for the winners—the other half is from the BMA nominating committee. Worcester State students, faculty, and staff can cast their votes for Odria on the Boston Music Awards website until 11:59 p.m. (ET) on November 30. The winners will be announced December 14 at Big Night Live.

“This nomination is meaningful in several ways,” said Odria. “First, as far as I know, this is the first time BMA has included a ‘Latin Artist’ category along with other new categories that showcase the broadening of cultural expression in the state of Massachusetts. Second, this nomination feels like a solid recognition of all the hard work put into this job: from practicing, composing, leading different projects, performing, gigging, promoting, being a performing artist involves a sustained effort through the years.”

The Peruvian-born musician and ethnomusicologist teaches modern guitar and a variety of musicology-related classes such as World Music, Jazz Appreciation, and History of Western Art Musicology at Worcester State, and founded Musica!, the university’s Latin American jazz ensemble. He recently released his first solo album, Montuno Negro, which helped earn him the nomination, a work he describes as inspired by a “fictional, all-too-real character.”

“At some level, with all music and all art in general—you start from your experiences, from important events in your life,” he said in a recent interview with WSU Magazine. “These songs in the album work like that. I tried to imagine this fictional character traversing through different situations in life, different emotions. And I could not disconnect from that fictional character in a way, because he was being fed from my own experiences. But I didn’t want to make the album biographical, to say, ‘Oh, all this music is about my life,’ because there are also some magical elements created when you craft a fictional narrative. And you are able to detach a little bit from your own experiences and it stops being all about you. That’s why I play with that idea in this solo album.”

Odria is among 10 nominees for Latin Artist of the Year. The others include Elion Virtuoso, Fabiola Méndez, Manolo Mairena, Nino Francis, Partywithrami, Son de mi Tierra, Veronica Robles, Yelena Rodriguez, and Zayra Pola.

This year’s nomination is the most recent for Odria. In 2014, the debut album of Omnimusica, an ensemble in which Odria was the lead guitarist, was included on the official ballot for the 57th Grammy Awards in the World Music category. In 2019, his album El Rio was showcased in Worcester Magazine’s top 10 albums in New England. In the same year, Odria’s music compositions were featured in the soundtrack for the documentary El Rio, a film directed by Juan Carlos Galeano.

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