Don Tetto, Mia Mont, Celia Cruz All-Stars, More Rock Billboard Latin Music Conference's New Artist Showcase -- Check Out Photos!
Don Tetto, Mia Mont, Celia Cruz All-Stars, More Rock Billboard Latin Music Conference's New Artist Showcase -- Check Out Photos!

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Fellini-esque: Performers at the Billboard Latin Music Conference's New Artist Showcas helped create a carnival-like atmosphere (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner Archives)

MIAMI -- The Billboard Latin Music Conference ended a day of serious discussion about business, branding, social media, marketing and more with a big pachanga fiesta in the back courtyard of the Eden Roc Rennaissance Hotel.

A carnival-like atmosphere, with plumed dancers mingling with the guests, was a typically latin way for participants and panelists alike to unwind with mojitos, paella and the performances of emerging artists - and it was also a welcome distraction of a different sort for tourists walking by the pier behind the oceanfront art deco gem.

Check out all of our coverage of the 2011 Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards right here!

Aaron Nicholas, a mariachi singer with a very unmariachi name (he uses his first and middle name only, like Juan Gabriel), performed as the participants and guests entered the patio lined with tables and pillow-strewn sofas under the palm fronds. With a full traditional band, Aaron Nicholas set the tone for the Latino feel.

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Keeping it Trad: Aaron Nichols backed by a full Mariachi band (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner Archives)

The third-generation Mexican from Los Angeles sang a song from his forthcoming LP, which will be available digitally on May 3, and said that his inclusion in the showcase of new musicians to watch for was significant because of the artists who have come in showcases before him - and made it to bigger venues.

"It's very significant because Billboard seems to be all about the music," Aaron Nicholas said. "Everybody wants to be here and be heard. It's like TV channels, that there are so many sometimes you don't know what you are watching. And Billboard requests the best that is out there to put on one channel tonight - and to give little artists like me a chance to reach not only the greater public, but the community I am trying to reach."

D'Manti and her carefully choreographed show was a vibrant contrast to the elegant mariachis standing in formation. She danced all over the place, posing suggestively with her dancers and/or band members; many guests loved her combination of Paulina Rubio looks and Jennifer Lopez sound.


D'Manti with her Paulina Rubio looks and Jennifer Lopez sound (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner Archives)

Several of the participants were excited to hear Mia Mont, whose single "Tema Principal De La Lola (Amor Amor Amor)" that serves as title song for the Peruvian soap opera "La Lola" and was the third act Tuesday night. Many men in the audience couldn't keep their eyes off of the young brunette in a short skirt and high heels, nor keep their heads from bouncing to the beat.


Pointing Can be Polite: Peruvian native Mia Mont played her hit single "Por El" (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner Archives)

"I like her, of course, but I like the music, too," one said. "Who can help but dance?"

Diane Smith, a music promoter from Jupiter who was looking for acts for her Viva South Florida concert in September, wanted to talk to both Mia Mont and Aaron Nicholas to see if they were available. "This is a great place for me to find new music talent that needs to be exposed to new audiences," she said.

Mia Mont said it was the performance at Billboard's opening gig was the crown of a very good year.

"This year has been incredible for us. So much has happened and come to fruition," she said. "This is an honor for me. It is the best thing of the year."

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Los Aviadores from Venezuela, are a tropical duo comprised of Willian Posada and David Soto (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner Archives)

Los Aviadores got people dancing by the pool, but things shifted into high gear with roqueros Don Tetto, who have toured with Green Day and had Mia Mont singing along with them in the audience. "I love them. They are very popular in Peru," she said. Asked if she might pick up an electric guitar or do a grunge version of "Por El," she laughed. "No! But I still like to listen to it."


Don Tetto, from Bogota Colombia, rock SoBe (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner Archives)

The biggest hit of the night was the headliner, the Celia Cruz All Stars, which is "charged with carrying on the music and rhythms of Celia Cruz," as the DJ said. Even Aaron Nicholas said he was staying through the end of the evening because he really wanted to hear their sound.

They started with a version of "Kimbara Cumbara" that was a rival to the original. The lead singer's voice is nearly channeling the deep signature soprano that was Celia.

"I'm Cuban and I love Celia Cruz. She was one of the greatest artists from Cuba and in the whole world," said Chely Hernandez, a senior buyer with Alliance Entertainment, who said that it was probably the best imitation of la reina de la conga. "I don't feel like, 'Oh my God, she is trying to do Celia -- I feel like 'Oh my God, she is doing Celia."


Celia Cruz All Stars pay tribute to a Latin legend (Photo: Arnold Turner/A. Turner Archives)

The 12-piece band jammed in freestyle Cuban house band tradition - singing a happy birthday to a friend and asking the crowd if they should stay or go - with jams that incorporated bongos, maracas, a guiro, trumpets, a trombone - all the traditional elements of a full Cuban band, except for the flute. But nobody missed it -- maybe because they were too busy dancing.

Billboard.biz will be reporting from the Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards all week -- check back every couple of hours for the latest!