Latin Grammys: Calle 13 Makes History in Star-Studded Night
The 12th annual Latin Grammys, which were telecast live from the Mandalay Bay, made it a night the Puerto Rican rapping duo Calle 13 will not soon forget as they dominated the awards show with a staggering nine wins including record of the year, best urban music album and best alternative song -- a record number of wins in the Latin academy's history. The number brings their total career wins to 19, also a record.
Calle 13's "Latinoamérica" also took home prizes for best urban song, best short form music video, best tropical song and producer of the year along with collaborator Rafael Arcuate.
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Rene "Residente" Perez of Calle 13 was overjoyed with the multiple awards.
"I want to dedicate this prize to all of Latin America," said Perez. "Que viva la musica and Latino America."
Backstage the conversation became lively when Perez was confronted by a Venezuelan journalist who asked who said he was insulted by the rapper's politics in regards to his comments about Venezuela. But the entertainer said that he had not made those comments and could not be responsible for what others are saying or printing.
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) President/CEO Neil Portnow was asked about Calle 13's big night, but also if there was concern about the band's controversial perspectives on politics.
"The academy (is about) the voting members … so when they make their judgments," Portnow said. "My suspicion is that musicians or creative people are not afraid of controversy. So I wouldn't think there'd be something on that album that wouldn't be a difficult choice for our members."
The 3-hour awards show, produced by Univision, brought out some of the biggest Latin stars in a show that opened with Calle 13 Los Angeles philharmonic conductor and director Gustavo Dudamel.
Hosted by singer/actress Lucero and actor Cristian de la Fuente, the evening included performances by Marco Antonio Solis, Romeo, Usher, and Colombian superstar Shakira who was this year's person of the year. She was feted in a three-hour dinner the previous night during a dinner and tribute show which featured some of her biggest hits, which were performed by fellow colleagues such as pop singer Natalia Jimenez, regional Mexican artist Pepe Aguilar and singer/songwriter Franco De Vita
The night's first winner was Mexican composer Marco Antonio Solis who won for best regional Mexican song for the track "En Total Plenitud" on the album Tú Me Vuelves Loco.
The best new artist prize went to Puerto Rico's David Rodriguez, better known as Sie7e.
"Another one for Puerto Rico," said a tearful Rodriguez. "This is for my wife, kids, siblings, mother, father … thank you from my heart. I want to thank the academy for this honor and to the fans for giving me this opportunity."
Rodriguez's self-released independent album La Buena Vida led to a deal in June with Warner Music Latina, which released the new set Mucha Cosa Buena, which earned him the nomination. The album's rhythmic compositions set in batucada, samba, and salsa have proved popular and spent six weeks on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart and peaked at No. 17.
Shakira, who this year was the Latin Grammy person of the year, performed the ballad "Antes de las Seis," in a flowing gown. Later she also performed "Loca" before she thanked her peers and fans about being person of the year.
One of the night's most energetic moments came when Pitbull and Marc Anthony performed their radio hit "Let It Rain Over Me," as dozens of female dancers performed in dramatic broadway-style routines as water fell on them.
Another well-received performance was Usher and Romeo performing "Promise," which is featured in Romeo's current album, "Formula Vol. 1."
Venezuelan singer/songwriter Franco De Vita won best male pop vocal album for his En Primera Fila and earlier in the pre-telecast won for best long form music video.
Alejandro Santiago Ciena, who directed Calle 13's video Calma Pueblo, spoke backstage in the pre-telecast about the concept of the video, which includes people disrobing and running in the nude through city streets as an expression of freedom.
"We wanted the lyrics and the visuals to be strong," said Santiago Ciena of his third video collaboration with Calle 13. "We wanted it to be real, but still have a positive message to the show the union of people who fight to produce art."
Other winners included Mexico's Zoé for best rock song who also won for best alternative music album for "Música de Fondo: MTV Unplugged.
The prize in the category of best singer/songwriter album was a tie with wins for Peruvian singer Gian Marco for his work on Dias Nuevas and Cuban artist Amaury Gutierrez's Sesiones Intimas.
Backstage Marco spoke about his win.
"Making this project was a huge sacrifice," the singer said. "I want to dedicate this to students in Peru so they can see that with hard work they an accomplish anything."
Gutierrez's backstage reaction was bittersweet as the Cuban native said that he's likely not to visit his birth country anytime soon because he his visa application would likely be denied due to his criticism of the government.
"I'm sure they (Cuban officials) will not let me in," Gutierrez said. "That has to change."
Other early winners included Vicente Fernández for best ranchero album for his El Hombre Que Más Te Amó; Rafael Arcaute and Calle 13 for producer of the year and La Arrolladora Banda Del Limón de René Camacho for Todo Depende de Tí.
After accepting the win, Camacho spoke about the band's stronghold in the music business within the regional Mexican genre.
"The band is working in Mexico right now, but they're extremely happy with this win," said Camacho. "It is beautiful to win awards, but the most beautiful to have the support of the community we've had through the years."
The best salsa album went to Rubén Blades Y Seis Del Solar, best traditional tropical album went to the late Cachao and best Tejano album went to Little Joe & La Familia's Recuerdos.
For a complete list of winners, go to latingrammy.com.