Just behind in wins was veteran singer/songwriter Juan Gabriel, a comeback success story who won Tour of the Year and whose album of duets, Los Duo, won for Top Latin Album of the Year and Latin Pop Album of the Year. Juan Gabriel also won Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Male and Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year, solo, and was honored with the special Billboard Star Award.
"This doesn’t seem real,” said a giddy Juan Gabriel, the first winner of the night. “I'm amazed. I'm surprised. I am very happy to be here for the first time.”
Later, after being honored with the special Billboard Star Award by Don Francisco, he said he didn’t deserve the spoils without sharing them with his producer, Gustavo Farias.
He later delivered an impassioned version of "Querida" with Juanes that had him smiling and spinning around on the stage like he did 40 years ago.
The night's big winners underscored the current duality of the Latin music charts, where traditional superstars -- as represented by Juan Gabriel -- coexist with new urban sounds.
Few songs exemplify the new sound better than “El Perdón,” written by Nicky Jam and performed alongside superstar Enrique Iglesias. The track, eventually recorded in a bilingual version, was an instantaneous global success and became the second longest-running No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart, spending 30 weeks on the top spot (only behind Iglesias’ “Bailando”). Also underscoring the track’s success: Its producer, Saga Whiteblack, won the Producer of the Year award.
Billboard Latin Music Awards 2016: See the Full Winners List
After his third award for Hot Latin Song of the Year, Nicky Jam thanked his fans again and Iglesias for taking a chance on him.
“Because let’s face it, Enrique Iglesias is Enrique Iglesias and Nicky Jam... well, no, he has become Nicky Jam,” he said, again referring to his rise from drug and alcohol addiction. “I am proof that if you do bad things, only bad comes to you and if you do good, good things come into your life.”
Other top winners of the evening included Romeo Santos, who won Artist of the Year, and Shakira, who won Social Artist of the Year.
The coveted New Artist of the Year award was bittersweet, with honors going to Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes del Rancho. Although Camacho died in a car accident in February 2015, his band has continued to record and rack up sales.
This 2016 edition of the awards, which were produced by Tony Mojena and aired lived on the Telemundo network from the BankUnited Center in Miami, was the first to only feature duets and collaborations.
Cubans Represent at the 2016 Billboard Latin Music Awards
The show included Juan Gabriel performing alongside Paty Cantú, Juanes and Alejandro Fernandez; Daddy Yankee and Don Omar -- who both received Billboard’s Leadership award -- in their first-ever televised joint performance; and Alejandro Fernandez performing alongside his daughter Camila Fernanez.
Alejandro Fernandez performed "Ciclo Sin Fin," the Spanish version of the Lion King’s "Circle of Life," alongside his daughter Camila Fernandez in what was an emotional show of harmony. It was adorable.
He later dedicated the award to his family and Camila, who is just starting her career. “These are my qualifications,” he told her, holding up the award. “This career is very difficult. But here is the reward from the public.”
Marco Antonio Solís, who received the Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award for his 40 years as a performer, sang his hits with Natalia Jimenez and Marc Anthony.
See the full list of winners here.