Gay8 Festival Honors Trailblazer Desmond Child

By Charlotte Libov

Latin Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Desmond Child is esteemed as one of the most successful musicians, songwriters and music producers in history, but his contributions go even beyond his iconic status.

Desmond Child
Desmond Child

A Florida native of mixed Hungarian and Cuban ancestry, Child credits his passion for songwriting to his mother, Cuban songwriter Elena “Mimi” Casals, who was his first inspiration.

Child will be honored with the prestigious Pa’Lante Award on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 by the Gay8 Festival, a free Latino art, music and food street festival that celebrates Miami’s diverse communities. The festival takes place on Sunday, Jan. 15 in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

“I am profoundly humbled to be nominated as a recipient of the Pa’Lante Award. In fact, I am very emotional about it as my mother, the late Cuban Bolero composer and poet Elena Casals, and I literally lived up and down Calle 8 in one cuartería or another for many years as she struggled as a single mom to make ends meet and also be recognized for her soulful songs in this new country,” Child said.

“While she smoked, drank cafecitos and talked politics with the crowd of refugiados gathered around the open windows of the café’s, I learned to play dominos with the old men in the guayaberas… some whom had known my grandfather in Cuba. Calle 8 was our only tie to our lost world and survival in the new one. It’s the one place I can really call home,” he added.

Child attended Miami Dade College, forming his first group “Desmond Child and Rouge” in the 70’s and he hasn’t stopped since. He’s won accolades that range from a Latin Grammy to an astounding list of credits, which include over 70 Top 40 singles – including several Billboard chart toppers.

His collaborations run the gamut from Aerosmith to ZEDD, Bon Jovi to Ricky Martin, KISS to Kelly Clarkson, Cher to Katy Perry, Garth Brooks to Carrie Underwood, and from Megadeth to Mickey Mouse and Kermit The Frog.

Child’s reach is astounding. Ricky Martin’s megahit “La Copa de la Vida,” the official theme of the 1998 World Cup, was performed in front of two billion viewers. Even greater success followed a year later when Child co-wrote and co-produced Martin’s first English language smash hit “Livin’ la Vida Loca.”

He is receiving this honor because his accomplishments go far beyond the world of music.

In 2013, he co-founded the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame to educate, preserve, honor and celebrate the legacy of the world’s greatest Latin songwriters.

On a personal note, Child co-wrote and starred in “Two,” a documentary tracing the 12-year journey of he and his husband Curtis Shaw to create their new modern family, which now includes their sons Roman and Nyro.