Joe Granda is the owner and creator of Granda Entertainment. He has been visible in the Florida community for over 25 years and does a tremendous amount in helping the world accept the gay community as equals. Joe is a friend and it was a pleasure to sit down with him for this in depth exclusive Hotspots interview.

Joe Granda Takes the World by Storm

Joe Granda is the owner and creator of Granda Entertainment. He has been visible in the Florida community for over 25 years and does a tremendous amount in helping the world accept the gay community as equals. Joe is a friend and it was a pleasure to sit down with him for this in depth exclusive Hotspots interview.

joe-granda-takes-over-the-world-1Hotspots Magazine: At what age did you realize you wanted to be in show business and what was the one event that pushed you to the entertainment industry?

Joe Granda: My grandmother taught me how to make hand puppets and marionettes and I built a cardboard stage and began to do shows for the neighborhood kids that were inspired by kids’ TV shows like Captain Kangaroo, Bozo the Clown, H.R. Pufnstuf and Sesame Street. Then I home studied ventriloquism and my dad bought me my first Dummy named “Tribilin.” I learned magic tricks at the famous shop Hollywood Magic, which I began to include in my shows and began to do local TV shows. This was in the late ’60s.

As a child you were on the show “Cabalgata Infantil.” How was that experience?

I did several children’s shows as a magician and ventriloquist and was discovered by Cuban TV/Radio personality Margarita Prieto, who starred and produced the show. She incorporated me into the show as a regular and I did acting skits to magic, ventriloquism and even commercials for their sponsors. The experience was incredible. I learned many aspects of TV production and became an audio visual student teacher at my middle school, teaching other students how to run projectors, do maintenance on them and, in my last year, we had our first ever black and white video camera where we used to produce our own TV shows for the school.

In your teens you formed the band “Majesty.” How did you go about putting the band together and how different was singing compared to acting for you?

The idea of me singing came from Cuban TV/Radio actor Eduardo Lujan. I appeared on his TV show on CH 6 in Miami, and my dummy actually sang a song. It was quite difficult singing without moving your lips. I had been enrolled in Chorus classes at school and had learned to sing from there and Lujan said “you have a great voice you should get into singing.” I was around 12 years old at that time and took his advice and began to craft my voice. I took two hours of Chorus and Musical Drama in school. I played several leads in high school musicals like Godspell. In my Hialeah neighborhood some of the kids were forming a band and asked me to be part of it and by the age of 15 we had already recorded our first album with Majesty, produced by music moguls Tony Moreno and Carlos Garcia, who formed a label and owned vinyl manufacturing plants. We actually released one of the first 12″ singles for the clubs and did many shows. The second single which I also wrote “High on Love” (I learned how to write songs from poetry classes at school) become a favorite on a local radio show hosted by Enrique “Rikitiki” de La Masa and became a huge hit. The acting experience really helped me to communicate with my music audience and transform myself as I was a different person on stage than off.

joe-granda-takes-over-the-world-2What triggered you to step behind the scenes and become a music mogul?

I wanted to become a movie director and my band disbanded at its peak so I began to book other bands and produce my own concerts to make extra cash while I was in school. I met Tony Parodi, who managed his brother’s band named “Babe.” That band was the closest to Majesty, so I began working closely with him in all aspect of production — from making a flyer (using the old press and scratch letters), promoting the event via newspapers, flyer distribution, schools — to renting spaces, making contracts (I was studying business law at college), building sets, lighting, stage, sound (all which I had learned from Drama class at school).

You have been in the entertainment industry for 40+ years now and your career keeps going up and up. How do you manage to keep your companies growing and staying fresh?

We are constantly looking for innovative ways to promote and market our clients. In the past few years we have been developing a system which has now been in beta phase for close to a year and we just recently launched the Digital PROMO Distribution Network (DPDN) is a system designed to streamline record label service to DJs.

We really felt this system was vital to reconnect the pools and the labels, so that there is a resumed dialog between these promotional forces. Due to the slow demise of the physical CD, the continual budget cuts at the labels, and now the absence of a printed chart in a national publication, the Latin pools have been hardest hit. Because of these occurrences we created this system (DPDN), which provides instant access to songs and remixes — it also provides immediate feedback from the DJs back to the label.

The DPDN website uses a whole new system that allows record labels to virtually market and promote their artists by including biographical information, artist social networking links, record label info, video links, as well as iTunes availability. The feedback required by registered DJs who utilize the system, provides a very valuable tool for the labels that they have been seriously lacking since most labels have stopped servicing most record pools.

We also created a physical and on-line magazine, the only trade publication of its kind dedicated to the Latin market, and the only publication in the U.S. to feature charts by the songs making noise at Latin clubs and venues nationwide, as well as interviews with the Latin DJs, record pool directors, producer/remixers, club promoters and executives that support the Latino dance market. Each issue features a cover story with the artists that are on the top of the club scene with their singles and remixes.

Our promotion and marketing division of works with the biggest artists of Latin music, specializing in promotion to DJ/clubs/remixes, social media marketing and specializes in the LGBT niche market, which many of our clients come to us from with their music, videos and concert tours, our national gay club tours with these major artist/media magnets that support our community, bringing them up close to their LGBT fans and helping to promote our social and political needs through their press and media interviews, opening the eyes of many about our needs. We are community partners and co-produce the Latin stages and the largest LGBT pride festivals in the USA, like San Francisco Pride and Long Beach Pride which we have done for over 10 years and we have also worked with L.A., San Diego, San Jose, and Miami Beach providing major Latin artists. For the past 12 years we have been in production and talent for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens yearly event “Viva La Musica,” which is the park’s most attended consumer event, with a keen smell and ear for the best Latin talent to present. I have always stayed on top of the music trends, always being one step ahead.

Yjoe-granda-takes-over-the-world-3ou have worked with countless Latin artists. Is it fair to ask you who are your favorites and why?

The list is too long as I don’t have any one specific artist that is my favorite. It’s a pleasure for me working with all of them and their music is so broad, from Pop, Salsa, Merengue, Urban Pop, Rock, Cumbia, and Dance — it’s very hard as it depends on my musical mood.

You have started the Latin music festival Viva La Musica at Sea World and Busch Gardens. How did you come to produce these events and what keeps them so successful?

“Viva” was a concept conceived by the SeaWorld Orlando team and Doug Allan, former manager of Talent Resources. I was producing a stage at Calle 8 for Coca-Cola and Doug happened to see my show and he was looking for that key person to help it take off. Latino event producers had a bad rap of not being organized with artists who were never on-time, but since I was Latino and grew up in Miami and studied here, the timing of my events and organizational and timing skills were on point. My first event with them was the last weekend of September 2001. It was quite a trying time, but thank God that President Bush went on national TV and told people to go back to their normal lives and to visit the parks. Luckily, we went over the amount of people at the park predicted by park experts and the event went on without a hitch; what a way to prove my skills!

I know you are working hard to change the negative stigma towards the gay community in Latin America and, of course, worldwide. How is this going?

Every time we have a major Latin artist do a club tour or present themselves at one of our pride events, the media covers it on an international level. The word bounces all over that these artists support us and our rights. When they are interviewed they are asked about it and they respond with their support. This is worth its weight in gold due to the fact that it helps to change minds; it helps to generate more support and helps to begin to wipe-out the homophobia in our community.

How does it feel to know that the artists you work with are making a huge difference for our community?

It is extremely satisfying as there are still those haters that think that the artists are selling out for publicity, but we do our research and make sure these artists truly support our rights and love us for what we stand for. I have seen a mother with a sign reading: “I accepted by lesbian daughter because of you. Thanks for uniting my family.” I have seen young gay boys cry at Meet & Greets with the artist thanking them for their support. They say that now their parents accept them, because they came out of the closet (like Ricky and Christian Chavez have) and now they understand that they can become someone in this world. Wow, there are so many heart wrenching and inspiring stories — I could write a book.

What’s ahead for Joe Granda and Granda Entertainment?

We are looking forward to making next year’s Celebrate Orgullo an even bigger success then it was this year and are going to begin to expand to other Latin American and European countries who are in need of our services. We will also continue our efforts in opening the minds of Latinos all over the world!

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