Special Feature: Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards - A Night to Remember

INAUGURAL LATIN SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME GALA TO FETE HONOREES

The inaugural induction gala for the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame--taking place April 23 in Miami Beach on the first night of the Billboard Latin Music Conference--promises to be a celebration with some of the biggest names in Latin music.

Iconic Latin songwriters will be front and center at the event being hosted by Carlos Ponce and Eglantina Zingg at the New World Center. The honorees will be feted, honored and recognized as trailblazers who have taken the craft of writing music to new heights and inspired millions with their memorable compositions.

This year's first group of inductees includes Spain's Manuel Alejandro and Julio Iglesias; Mexico's Jose Angel "Ferrusquilla" Espinoza, Armando Manzanero and, posthumously, Roberto Cantoral; Puerto Rico's Jose Feliciano; and Cuba's Concha Valdes Miranda.

The Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame's La Musa (the Muse) award will be given to five inductees and other special award recipients each year. The statuette--of the late Cuban poet/songwriter Elena Casals, mother of the organization's co-founder Desmond Child--was originally sculpted by Florida artist Lee Burnham in 1954. It has been resculpted by renowned Nashville artist Alan LeQuire.

Special awards will be presented to Nat "King" Cole, Andy Garcia, Olga Guillot, Natalia Jimenez, Ralph S. Peer, Robi Draco Rosa, Prince Royce, Olga Tanon, and Consuelo Velazquez.

The event will include performances and tributes by Alicastro, Lucie Arnaz, Angelica Aragon, Ruben Blades, Michael Bolton, Buika, Cabas, Roberto Cantoral Jr., Desmond Child, Joaquin Cortes, Luz Casal, Natalie Cole, Aida Cuevas, Placido Domingo Jr., Dyango, Andy Garcia, Orlando Esteva Gonzalez, Jose Feliciano, Michelle Fragoso, Carlos Gomez, Juan Luis Guerra, Alejandra Guzman, Arthur Hanlon, Jose Jose, Milton Ruben Laufer, Maria Martha Serra Lima, Claes Nobel, Horacio Palencia, Rudy Perez, Gabriel Ramos, Reyli, Prince Royce, Jon Secada, Yul Vazquez, Mariano Rivera Valazquez, Jimmy Webb, Mauricio Zeilic, Hernaldo Zuniga and the New World School of the Arts string quartet.

Singer/songwriter Rosa, who has battled cancer in recent years but is now in remission, will pay tribute to the songwriters who have inspired him through the years.

"It's a beautiful thing," says Rosa, who will receive a special award for his contributions to Latin music. "We are all on this planet together, so bravo for everyone who took the initiative to make the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame a reality. I'm really happy to be alive and to see this happen."

Additionally, the first La Musa will be given to the classic composition "Besame Mucho," which was written by Mexico's Consuelo Valazquez. The song will be performed by Buika and an orchestra of some of the industry's most recognized musicians. The organization will also honor the composers of a national anthem every year, starting this year with Mexico and its writers Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra and Jaime Nuno.

The Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded by composer Child and producer/composer Rudy Perez, under the umbrella of the long-established, multiple-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Latin version seeks to honor the world's best Latin songwriters and their music in every genre.

"The Latin community has supported us in so many ways," Child says. "Everyone--artists, songwriters, publishers and so many sponsors--have embraced us to make this happen. Celebrating and honoring the greats of Latin music was long overdue."


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