In an emotional ceremony that served as a reminder of music’s ability to transcend time and adversity, nine living legends of Latin music were honored with special awards by the Latin Recording Academy (LARAS) tonight (Nov. 12) in Houston.

Venezuelan composer Simon Diaz, pianist and bandleader Larry Harlow, and Cuban guitarist and composer Juanito Marquez received the trustees award. Singers Angelica Maria, Vikki Carr, Cheo Feliciano, Astrud Gilberto, Maria Dolores Pradera and Estela Raval received lifetime achievement awards. Notably, virtually all those honored continue to actively tour and record.

“I’ve been in this business for 45 years and recorded more than 50 albums,” said Harlow, who is not Latin and who was affectionately known in his Fania days as “El Judío Maravilloso” (The Marvelous Jew) for his prowess at the keyboard.

Perhaps the most emotional moment of the afternoon belonged to Vikki Carr, who recalled a life of humble beginnings as the eldest of seven siblings and recounted a musical career that traversed both English and Spanish language hit albums. Her anecdotes included her label’s early lack of support for the hit “It Must Be Him,” which several executives predicted would never work.

“As artists, we always know better what can work or not,” Carr said.

The LARAS Special Awards were given the day prior to the ninth annual Latin Grammy Awards, which will air live Nov. 13 from Houston on the Univision Network.

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