There was a pretty big Worcester presence in this year’s Boston Music Award nominations. For example, Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist and Worcester native Joyner Lucas was nominated for Artist of the Year, Hip-Hop Artist of the Year and Song of the Year (for “Blackout” ft. Future). Other local artists and music professionals nominated included the Palladium, Indian Ranch, Sapling, No Trigger and Elion Virtuoso, among others.
But only one Worcesterite took home a trophy from the Dec. 20 awards ceremony at Big Night Live in Boston’s North End, and that was Kristina Latino, who won in the brand-new category, “Artist Manager of the Year.”
“I was really touched to be on the list alongside managers who I truly learned so much from,” said Latino, in a phone conversation on Friday. “Some of the managers on that list have given me the best advice of my career.”
Find & reserve investment properties in
Turkey or Dubai from the comfort of
Latino, who currently lives in Dorchester, is a Worcester native and a graduate of Doherty Memorial High School. Through her independent management company, Cornerscape Artist Management, she currently manages singer-songwriter Mark Erelli, who appeared on Worcester Magazine’s “Favorite New England Albums of 2023,” Alisa Amador, a bilingual singer-songwriter and the winner of the 2022 NPR Tiny Desk Contest, and Canadian singer-songwriter Ken Yates.
Latino says she took a roundabout road to artist management, beginning her career working as a sound engineer and club manager for the nonprofit music venue, Club Passim. About eight years ago, she says, she met Erelli, who hired her to help him with a small project, a cover album.
“It was Mark that asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about artist management? Maybe you should give it a try.” From there, her career was born, and as the nomination list for the BMAs comes from nominations from Bay State music professionals (including, in the interests of disclosure, this writer), Latino says it was great to be “recognized when your peers see you doing good work.”
That’s a sentiment which Elion Virtuoso of Worcester echoes in a phone conversation Thursday. Virtuoso, who was nominated in the “Latin Artist of the Year” category for the second year in a row, says he’s been a little surprised by being nominated multiple times, as he tends to release very little music, although the remix of his holiday song, “Coquito,” garnered attention from Billboard magazine.
“It’s more than what I expected,” said Virtuoso, of the recognition, “yet at the same time, I have high hopes that it will go further still. I’m thinking, ‘Mariah Carey Christmas every season supermarket music,’ he says with a laugh.
“To be nominated two times in a row is awesome,” says Virtuoso. “It just speaks volumes to my presence … It’s just an echo of all the hard work me and my team have been putting in.”
Virtuoso was one of very few Worcester-based nominees to attend the event, along with punk/hardcore artist of the year nominees Sapling. He also played an after party at Hue that same night, hosted by Boston hip-hop legend Oompa.
Virtuoso says he likes the Boston Music Awards because, “you don’t have to go crazy to get recognized, especially in a city like Boston. It’s cool, because they have their ear to the ground … they pay attention to the entire state.”
On the near horizon, Virtuoso says he has a music video coming for his song, “Elements.” Likewise, Latino has a lot coming up, although she was unable to disclose a lot of it, although she was looking forward to touring with her artists next year, and plans to attend the South X Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.
In addition to her own win, she was excited that both Erelli and Amador were nominated in the folk artist category, and that Erelli was also nominated for “Album of the Year” for his album, “Lay Your Darkness Down.” She says she’s excited about what her current stable of artists have planned, and is also keeping an eye out to expand to more artists, including moving outside the singer-songwriter realm. Certainly, her win at the BMAs likely put her on a few artists’ radar.
“For me,” says Latino, “to be on that list … almost having that list is the best part. When I think back to my 20s years ago, I didn’t know what an artist manager was. If I had a scene like this 10 years ago, maybe I would have gotten on this path faster. I love that it’s raising awareness of the kind of work that’s going in in Massachusetts.”