Flamenco and Latin beats and global sounds and personalities all merged together at the second annual Martell in Miami event, which honored Jesus López, chairman/CEO of Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Peninsula, and Broadway and film producer Edward Walson, owner of the Royal Blues Hotel.
Taking place again as part of the annual NATPE television market, Martell in Miami drew a who’s who of Latin music industry executives from different sectors to a luncheon that featured performances by Universal stars David Bisbal and Sebastian Yatra and appearances from the likes of Juanes, who is closely involved with the event. The event was organized by the TJ Martell Foundation, launched in 1975 by music industry executive Tony Martell in memory of his son T.J., who died of leukemia. To date, the foundation has raised more than $280 million for research into finding treatment and a cure for cancer.
Being honored, Lopez told Billboard, “is the recognition of the work done by my team and my artists. Having me here means my artists can speak. Alejandro Sanz, Luis Fonsi, Juanes — they’ve all sent out tweets [in support of Martell]. The important thing is the Latin community and our Latin artists are communicating. This allows the foundation to have bigger impact beyond my own achievement.”
Onstage, Lopez received his award from Monte Lipman, founder and chairman of Republic Records, with whom Lopez has worked closely for years, and most recently, with hits like “Despacito” and “Mi Gente.”
“Jesus has been a great partner of ours, and I am proud to call him a friend,” said Lipman, noting that Lopez launched the first urban and reggaeton label in the Latin market, Machete. “We’re bringing home the gold next week at the Grammys!” added Lipman, in reference to “Despacito,” nominated for record and song of the year.
The luncheon was capped by performances from Universal artist David Bisbal from Spain, who performed a totally unplugged set accompanied only by piano and guitar, a setting that truly allowed his vocal chops to shine. He was also joined by Colombia’s Yatra in “A partir de hoy,” which Bisbal described to Billboard as “a rumba flamenco that’s a mix of Colombia and Spain,” hinting at a future recording together.
The T.J. Martell Foundation has long hosted its signature music events in Los Angeles, Nashville and New York. Last year, it launched Martell in Miami and honored Gloria and Emilio Estefan in its inaugural event.