Like most teachers, Christina Martinez-Benitez has a hobby she enjoys while away from the classroom. Unlike most teachers, Martinez-Benitez’s hobby is collecting Grammys.
Martinez-Benitez, in her second year as the Director of Bands at Wessendorff Middle School, recently went to Las Vegas to collect the Latin Grammy for Best Children’s Album.
She and her husband, Noé, who is an entertainment lawyer in Houston, were the producers of “¡Fántastico!,” a collection of songs for young people performed by the Los Angeles-based indie rocker Lucky Diaz.
As producers, Martinez-Benitez and her husband “organized” the album. “We had to find musicians, arrange the music, write the lyrics,” she explained. “We sit down with the artist and find a common vision for the album.The vision, in this case, was to create a way to connect generations”.
Martinez-Benitez, who is from Laredo, her husband, who is from the Rio Grande Valley town of Roma and Diaz from San Antonio, each had memories of traditional Mexican songs of their youth. Together, they took those songs and put them to a modern beat.
“I want kids to listen to our songs and share it with their parents,” she explained. “I hope it starts a dialogue that might otherwise go unspoken.”
Martinez-Benitez and her husband met Diaz through Grammy365, which she described as sort of a Facebook for the music industry.
“Basically, it was a friend of a friend, thing,” she said.
The couple is working with Diaz on a future album and several Grammy winners are in the mix to make guest appearances, including Los Lobos.
Oh, and when not teaching or arranging music for albums, she works on a new clothing line, “¡Súbele! (Raise it up!),” which she described as Latin chic beach wear. Look for it this summer.