With over two decades of experience in the music industry, pianist, composer and producer Marlow Rosado has developed a powerful portfolio working with many of Latin music’s top artists. From salsa and rock to merengue and hip-hop—the Puerto Rican musician has had his hand in it all. In 2013 he self produced and independently distributed his album RETRO which garnered him not only the attention of the Latin music community, but an American Grammy award at the 55th Grammy Awards. Marlow sat down with us to share his story.
Give us the pre-Grammy story! How long have you been a working musician?
MR: I have been a working musician since I was 14 years old. I started working in clubs in Puerto Rico before I was allowed to be in them legally. I wouldn't change the way I learned to be a musician because I believed you can't get that kind of experience anywhere. Working alongside so many great street musicians, gave me something that I could never pick up in the best schools of music.
Tell us about the making of the record that was nominated — RETRO.
MR: Retro was the album I always wanted to make. I grew up listening to all the classic artists of my genre and I figured, it would be nice to record a lot of those classic songs and bring the original artist to record the songs. Retro is a record where I took classic songs from the 70s and re-recorded them with new arrangements and went after the original singers. The best way to describe it is like taking a song like "Tears of a clown" and re-recording it with a new arrangement and having Smokey Robinson sing it in 2016.
What was the first thing that went through your head when you found out you were nominated?
MR: The first thing that went through my head when the nominations came out was "finally something I've done has been recognized". I never dreamed it would actually win, especially being nominated against Romeo Santos, latin music's top artist.
Did you think you had a shot at winning?
MR: As I mentioned before, when I saw the nominations and saw that my record was nominated against Romeo Santos, I figured I didn't have a chance; But this is why the Grammys are so important, because your peers vote on quality and not on popularity. The Academy is composed of thousands of members. These are musicians, producers, arrangers, writers, and engineers. So when so many professionals in your industry decide that you have the best record that year in your particular genre, it really is one of the biggest honors anyone could ever receive.
What did it feel like to stand on the Grammy stage and accept an award amongst your peers?
MR: When you're standing up there, you don't even realize the level of accomplishment and the life change that’s about to occur. It's a few days after when you start to actually realize that your name is in just about every newspaper and every magazine article imaginable. It's like getting your doctorate degree and knowing that from that moment forward the word doctor will always appear before your name. Well as of February 10, 2013 I became Grammy award winner Marlow Rosado. This year I won a second grammy as a producer and it feels as amazing as when I won the first one.
"Doing music to be commercial will only set you up for disappointment and failure. Doing the music that's in your heart and producing the kind of music you love earns you respect and admiration from your peers. This alone is success."
What's next for you?
MR: I recently released my fourth album entitled "Harlow Marlow". This is a record I produced with salsa legend Larry Harlow. This record is very important because it's a sort of passing of the torch from one of our last tropical music's living legends to myself. I am honored that I was able to make this record with someone I respect and learn the craft from.
What advice do you have for other independent artists out there?
MR: As we know, this is one of the toughest industries out there. Don't expect anyone to support, invest, or even care much about what you do. It isn't until you prove yourself, that people start to look your way. Do what you do and do it with respect to your craft and because you truly love what you're doing. Produce the music that's in your heart and forget about the commercial aspect of it. Doing music to be commercial will only set you up for disappointment and failure. Doing the music that's in your heart and producing the kind of music you love earns you respect and admiration from your peers. This alone is success. Learn to reevaluate what success means to you. Try to be knowledgeable in every aspect of the industry, write your own songs if you can, be involved in your own production, in the artwork of your album, and every aspect of your production. Make sure that your fingerprints are all over everything you do. Take credit LOUDLY for your success and be just as loud when something doesn't go the way you planned it. Your music is an extension of who you are and you should be proud of what you do whether it is successful or not. After all, success is measured differently by everyone.
Find out more about Marlow Rosado on his official website.
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