Natalie Cole, Draco Rosa, Carlos Vives Among Latin Grammy Nominees
Carlos Vives Carlos Perez

Pop music in various forms made a strong showing this year in the Latin Grammy nominations with familiar faces in the running including Colombian singer Carlos Vives, a leading contender with five nominations; Spanish star Alejandro Sanz and Mexican Latin alternative songstress Julieta Venegas. Natalie Cole, whose first Spanish-language album debuted at No. 1 on the Latin Albums chart, and Draco Rosa, whose "Vida" marked a spectacular return for the artist from his battle with cancer, took three nominations each.

Recording engineer Javier Garza and Argentina’s hip-hop/rock duo Illya Kuryaki & the Valderramas, along with Vives, led the nominations, each with five nods. Garza was named twice in the Record of the Year category, for Vives’ comeback hit “Volvi a Nacer” and for Sanz’s “Mi Marciana.” He also has two nominations in the Album of the Year category for work on those artists’ albums, and was nominated for Best Engineered Album for Kany Garcia’s self-titled record. Illya Kuryaki & the Valderramas (IKV), comprised of Dante Spinetta and Emmanuel Horvilleur, was nominated in categories including Best Urban Song, Best Urban Performance and Best Alternative Music Album, for "Chances," released in 2012 in Argentina. Sanz, Brazilian icon Caetano Veloso, Vives producer Andrés Castro, and recording engineers Julio Reyes Copello and Edgar Barrera had four nominations each.

IKV, who swept Argentina’s recent Gardel Awards, venerable Venezuelan dance band Guaco, and Spanish singer/songwriter Pablo Alborán, a three-time nominee who is massively popular in his native country but not as well known in the United States, were among artists whose nominations highlighted the international nature of the Latin Grammy selection process.

"Remember, one of our main differences from the Grammys is that we are international," Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President/CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, told Billboard at the early morning nominations press conference in Hollywood. "[Nominees] can be from the biggest Latin American country or it can be from the smallest. It can be a Latin artist from Canada or from Europe. All that matters is the music."

Abaroa was also quick to point out that Colombian singer/songwriter Juanes was a virtual unknown in the United States when he was first nominated years ago.

This is the second year that the four main award categories included 10 nominations in in the general field that includes record of the year, album of the year, song of the year and best new artist.

Record of the year nominees include Alboran's "Tanto", Marc Anthony's "Vivir Mi Vida," Buika's "La Nave Del Olvido," Andres Cepdeda's "Lo Mejor Que Hay En Mid Vida," Natalie Cole's duet with Juan Luis Guerra's "Bachata Rosa" and Santiago Cruz's "Desde Lejos." Also nominated in this category are Draco Rosa featuring Rick Martin for "Más y Más," Alejandro Sanz' "Mi Marciana," Caetano Veloso "Um Abraçaço" and Carlos Vives' "Volví a Nacer."

Album of the year nominees include Rosa's "Vida," Alborán's "Tanto," Bajofondo's "Presente," Miguel Bose's "PapiTwo," Cepeda's "Lo Mejor Que Hay En Mi Vida" and Cole's "En Español." Guaco's Escultura, Gian Marco's Versiones, Sanz' La Musica No Se Toca and Vives Corazon Profundo also compete in that category.

"I've always fought to do my art and forge a new way," said Rosa, for whom "Vida" marked a commercial turning point in a long career that he began as a singer with the group Menudo. "In the end staying true to your passion is a big deal. I'm glad to be alive and standing here with three nominations."

New artist nods included Mexican Latin Alternative group A Band of Bitches, Bogotá’s Mojito Lite, and Los Angeles-based singer Gaby Moreno, whose 2012 duet with fellow Guatemalan singer Ricardo Arjona brought her to the attention of Latin American audiences.

The Latin Grammys take place Nov. 21 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The awards show will be broadcast live by the Univision Network.

For a complete list of the nominees, go to LatinGrammy.com.

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