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Meet Larry Ramos, the first Asian American Grammy winner

Larry Ramos became the first Asian American to win a Grammy Award
Larry Ramos became the first Asian American to win a Grammy Award

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    Today, the Recording Academy announced the nominations for the 64th Grammy Awards, which will take place on Jan. 31, 2022. With recent big wins from part-Filipino artists H.E.R. and Bruno Mars, as well as part-Korean artist Anderson. Paak, music’s biggest night has certainly become a source of inspiration and jubilation for Asian America; however, it could be argued that the celebrations should have started a long time ago — 60 years ago to be exact! 

    In 1963, Larry Ramos became the first Asian American to win a Grammy Award. Ramos, born Hilario D. “Larry” Ramos Jr. in Hawaii, was of Filipino descent.

    Ramos also joined The New Christy Minstrels, an American large-ensemble folk music group, in 1962. He provided backup vocals and played various stringed instruments, such as the banjo. 

    The New Christy Minstrels recorded their debut album “Presenting The New Christy Minstrels” with Columbia Records. The album would go on to win a Grammy Award in 1963 for Best Performance by a Chorus. Additionally, the group was  nominated for two other awards that year: Best Folk Recording and Best New Artist of 1962.

    Due to a rigorous touring schedule, Ramos left the band in 1966 to spend time with his family. After a one-year hiatus, he ended up as a co-lead singer and guitarist for the successful pop band The Association, which scored chart-topping singles such as “Windy” and “Never My Love.” On Feb. 24, 2014, Ramos gave his final performance, and on April 30, 2014, he passed away at the age of 72. 

    As we wait in anticipation for the 2022 Grammy Awards, let us widely share and exalt the life of Ramos, a legendary artist whose pioneering work has undoubtedly laid the early foundation for Asian American participation and recognition in one of the world’s most prestigious music award ceremonies. 

    Richie Traktivist is a Filipino American music archivist, DJ, music licensing manager, event organizer, and founder of TRAKTIVIST – a platform whose mission is to bring visibility and sustainability to Asian American artists. Core to the work is the website/archive – Here you can search by ethnicity, genre, role and instrument. Currently, there are over 1,500 artists spanning from the early 1900’s to the present.

    Feature Image courtesy of YouTube

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