On Tuesday (Nov. 13), the Latin Recording Academy presented the special lifetime achievement and trustees awards at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas as part of the 19th Annual Latin Grammy week.
The Special Awards ceremony, hosted by the president and ceo of the Latin Recording Academy, Gabriel Abaroa and singer Raquel Sofia, recognizes performers who have had artistic careers of immeasurable influence and impact in Latin music.
This year, the lifetime achievement award — presented to performers who have made contributions of outstanding artistic significance to Latin music and the Latin community — was given to Erasmo Carlos, Dyango, Andy Montañez, José María Napoleón, Chucho Valdés, Wilfrido Vargas, and Yuri.
Valdes was the first artist to accept the honor given by the president and ceo of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, and Cuban singer Omara Portuondo. During his speech, the 77-year-old Cuban pianist remembered everything that had to happen in his life to be successful. “I thought I was going to be feeding chickens at this age,” he said.
Later, Andy Montañez touched everyone’s heart when he dedicated his award to his daughter, wife and mother, who is 98 years old. Montañez got emotional and cried.
After receiving his Lifetime Achievement award from the merengue legend Johnny Ventura, Wilfrido Vargas decided that it was the moment to improvise during his speech. The Dominican singer relayed how in the beginning, his musical projects were far away from merengue. “My father [Ramón Vargas] said, ‘You should record merengue, because it’s the Dominican Republic’s native music.’” He figured out how to reinvent the genre and be successful.
Yuri, the only woman honored with the lifetime achievement award, was the last to proudly receive her recognition. The Mexican singer decided to leave her written speech aside. Before thanking all her work team, Yuri confessed that at 11 years of age, she was the opening act for Celia Cruz’s concert in Veracruz, Mexico and from that moment she fought with all her strength to achieve success.
Horacio Malvicino and Tomás Muñoz received the trustees award, which is given to individuals who have made significant contributions other than performance to Latin music during their careers. All the honorees are chosen by vote by the members of The Latin Recording Academy’s Board of Trustees.
The 19th annual Latin Grammy awards will broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 15, from 8-11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. CDT) on Univision.