Romeo Santos & Enrique Iglesias Win Big at 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards
Riding on the tails of major releases that circled the globe, Romeo Santos and Enrique Iglesias dominated the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards presented by State Farm, taking home 10 and nine awards, respectively.
Santos was the top winner of the evening, grabbing 10 awards -- including artist of the year -- during the ceremony, which was broadcast live on the Telemundo network from the BankUnited Center in Miami. Santos also won for songwriter of the year, producer of the year, Hot Latin Songs artist of the year and for Top Latin Album and tropical album of the year for Formula, Vol. 2.
After winning the big award for artist of the year, he said he'd forgotten to name-check someone "very important. I had the great privilege of recording with a man I admire so much. More than an artist that I admire, he is like a brother to me. Thank you, Marc," he said. Marc Anthony blew him a kiss from the seats.
And in addition to the fans, Santos thanked the DJs that promote his music by playing his songs and he named some of the big ones -- Alex Sensation, DJ Lobo, DJ Africa, DJ Fabulare.
Iglesias' "Bailando" won Latin pop song of the year, digital song of the year, streaming song of the year, Hot Latin Song of the year, vocal event, and airplay song of the year. The track featuring Descemer Bueno and the Cuban group Gente De Zona spent a record-breaking 41 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart.
Iglesias' awards also included Latin pop songs artist of the year, solo and Latin pop album of the year for Sex and Love. He made like an airplane and flew onstage to grab his first two awards. "I want to thank my fans for their support and love all these years," he said, recognizing also his label and producer as he held onto both awards with tight fists. "Thank you Miami. Thank you Latin America. Thank you Mexico. Thank you world!"
He went onstage again a little later to receive his five awards for the hit "Bailando." Iglesias was joined by Bueno and members of Gente De Zona. "This is for all Cubans, those in Cuba and those who are here," Bueno said.
Newcomer J Balvin, who for the first time was a finalist at these awards, took home three trophies including new artist of the year.
"Colombia," he yelled when he went on stage, cradling his awards. "Thanks first to God and to the people who support me, to the radio, my team... Mother! This is for you." He added, "it is a new era for urban music. Reggaeton is getting bigger than ever."
Santana, who was also feted with the Spirit of Hope Award for his work with the Milagro Foundation, performed with his pal Juanes, who presented him with the award he quickly dedicated to his daughter, Angelica Faith, and labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, who he called the "patroness of justice and truth."
"I invite all of you to change the world with your own light," said the spiritual Santana. "May the heavens open up and the angels bless each and every one with a deep awareness of your own light.”
The legendary guitarist and Juanes -- looking a lot like a younger version of Santana with his black hat -- opened with "Black Magic Woman" and followed with verses from "La Flaca" and "Juntos."
Billboard's Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to singer/songwriter Roberto Carlos, the iconic -- and best-selling -- Brazilian act whose songs represent more than three generations of listeners throughout Latin America. Carlos, who performed a medley of his songs -- marking the first time he ever sang on national television in the U.S. -- was given his award by another icon, Marc Anthony.
"This award honors artists whose outstanding careers have influenced several generations," Anthony said. "Tonight, this honor is given to a man with an admirable and moving voice, a true master whose talent has left forever a mark on the world of music and in our hearts."
Carlos performed a menagerie of his three biggest songs, beginning and ending with "Amigo" and singing verses of “Amada Amante" and "Detalles" in between.
Later, Anthony went back on stage to receive the award for the best tour.
"This award means I had the honor of finding myself with my public day after day, night after night," Anthony said. "I dedicate it to my children for the sacrifice of having a father who travels so much, giving myself each night to my fans. He added, "what an honor. I hope to be here in 10 years, getting the same award because I was born to do this."
Sony Music swept in the label categories, winning 11 awards, including Hot Latin Songs label and imprint of the year and Top Latin Albums imprint of the year. Universal Music Latin Entertainment won five label awards, including airplay label of the year and Top Latin Albums label of the year.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing won publishing corporation of the year, while indie Mayimba Music won publisher of the year.
The awards, which featured a dizzying array of acts, opened with a performance by Marc Anthony with Gente de Zona. Anthony was immediately followed by Nicky Jam -- who has taken the new urban Latin music world by storm with his comeback -- wearing a cap where he identified himself as a Paisarricano, embracing both his Puerto Rican roots and his adopted Colombian home.
"Over the years, the Billboard Awards has been known for being at the forefront, and this one of those moments when we will mark the path for others to follow," Fernandez said.
In other standout performances:
- Spanish singer Natalia Jimenez, formerly of La 5a Estacion, strutted out in a colorful dress and flowered crown looking like an Aztecan queen. She wore the same crown to accept her award for female artist of the year.
- Carlos Vives was joined by Wisin and Daddy Yankee (both in the sunglasses that seemed de rigueur for male urban Latin performers) for a rousing performance of "Nota de Amor" that had the audience on their feet dancing.
- When the curtain opened on Romeo Santos, the night's big winner, he was on a gilded throne that seemed appropriate for the King of Bachata -- and the king of the night.
- Ana Gabriel and Lucero dressed in matching glittery black lace to sing songs from the tribute album that Lucero made with Ana Gabriel's songs.
The ceremony took pause for reflection, and for a call to action, when Fernandez highlighted the earthquake in Nepal that left 5,000 people dead and millions affected.
"This is indeed a night of celebration, however we could not fail to mention the devastating earthquake that shook Nepal," he said. "Everyone can help remake this nation, donating to the International Red Cross with a click at www.redcross.org."
The Billboard Latin Music Awards were the culmination of the Billboard Latin Music Conference, which took place April 27-30 at the Ritz Carlton South Beach. Finalists and winners to the awards are determined by their performance on the Billboard charts.
Click here for the full list of winners.
--Reporting by Leila Cobo and Elaine de Valle