LOS ANGELES (AFP): There is no clear frontrunner for this year’s prestigious Grammy for Best New Artist, but Brazil’s Anitta definitely has a strong chance to win — which would be the perfect way to cap her banner year.
It’s been nearly 60 years since a Brazilian was nominated in the category, when Astrud Gilberto immortalized the classic “The Girl From Ipanema.”
But while Gilberto — the ex-wife of fellow bossa nova pioneer Joao Gilberto — won Record of the Year with Stan Getz for that hit, the prize for Best New Artist eluded her when she lost out to The Beatles.
Now Anitta hopes to snag the award at this Sunday’s ceremony, bringing the moment full circle.
The 29-year-old added a twist to the Brazilian classic with “Girl from Rio,” one of the hits from her fifth studio album, “Versions of Me.”
“As a Brazilian woman and a Latina, this nomination means so much to me, and fills me with pride,” she told AFP in an interview. “I’m really excited.”
Over the past year, Anitta grew into a global phenomenon thanks to her smash “Envolver.”
Streamed more than 100 million times in just its first few weeks, the song set a global record for Spotify plays, while going viral on TikTok with a hip-shaking dance craze.
These days, “nothing makes me lose sleep over my career,” Anitta says. “I’ve already accomplished so much more than I ever could have dreamed of.”
Born Larissa de Macedo Machado, the artist constructed her career block by block, conquering her native Brazil before breaking into the international market.
She has collaborated with superstars including Cardi B, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Maluma, J Balvin, Ozuna and Becky G.
Anitta — who studied English and Spanish as well as French and Italian — is a social media master and explosive stage performer with legions of fans.
Last spring, she made waves at Coachella, one of the premier US music festivals.
Now she is competing against an eclectic crop of Best New Artist nominees including Omar Apollo, Maneskin and Samara Joy for one of the Recording Academy’s top Grammys.
With more than a decade in the music business under her belt, Anitta is far from a novelty. But one of the main criteria for Best New Artist is making a breakthrough into the public consciousness, primarily in the US market.
And for Anitta, that breakthrough has practically been a new beginning.
The artist raised in a lower-middle class neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro says she’s betting on internationalizing her sound while maintaining a Brazilian flavor.
“My biggest challenge in my international career is communicating with a global audience while also maintaining my essence, my origins and my references,” she says.
Anitta also says she’s been trying to take a moment to slow down after spending countless hours on planes to manage a relentless touring schedule that sees her ping-ponging between continents.
“Today I’m taking on my career with more lightness, being kind to myself and my health,” she says.
“I’ve been spending more time with my family and on self-care, so I’ve ended up slowing down a bit.”
Even so, this year began with a series of shows in Brazil entitled “Anitta’s Rehearsals” — a warm-up of sorts for carnival, the country’s biggest party of the year.
“These performances were super-dynamic, with lots of energy and lasting up to four hours,” Anitta explained.
Asked what’s in the pipeline, the superstar maintained an air of mystery: “I can’t reveal it.”