Colombian crooner Carlos Vives, who presented one of the trophies, appropriately set the tone during the Latin Grammy Awards special awards presentation at the Four Seasons Las Vegas.
“We feel like kids since so many of our heroes are in the room,” Vives exclaimed, as he and producer Sebastian Krys presented a lifetime achievement honor to Colombian songstress Totó La Momposina. “This is a big honor for us, too.”
Hosted by singer Daniela Romo, who was introduced by Latin Grammy President Gabriel Abaroa, this year’s honorees included singer/songwriter Oscar D’Leon, Cuban musician Juan Formell, bossa nova composer Roberto Menescal, Argentine crooner Palito Ortega, bandleader Eddie Palmieri and Spanish-born composer Miguel Rios.
Longtime TV personality Mario Kreutzberger, also known as Don Francisco, was presented with the Trustees Award as was Mexican-born musician/composer/musical director Pedro Ramírez Velázquez.
“Since I’m the first one up here I can speak 45 minutes if you like,” Chilean-born Kreutzberger said, as the room of industry executives, artists and fans roared with laughter. On a more serious note, the talk show host said “that the people behind the camera are equally important. I’m happy and feel the love.”
Each honoree, except Palmieri who was unable to attend, expressed their gratitude to the academy and emphasized that such recognition is meaningful because it validates their work.
“It’s a beautiful recognition,” said Ramírez Velázquez, who was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, in 1945. “This honor gives you newfound energy to continue creating new things.”
Venezuelan-born D’Leon, known around the globe for his salsa music, was greeted with a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
“This is very emotional for me,” D’Leon said, adding that he’s 70, blind in one eye and still very passionate about music more than ever. “Each moment in life I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with my music and what I’m going to add to my repertoire.”
Formell, the founder of iconic Cuban band Los Van Van, thanked his family and added that “I dedicate this recognition to all the Cuban musicians and all Cubans wherever they may be in the world.”
Brazil’s Menescal and Colombia’s La Momposina both said they were elated with the recognition, but La Momposina added that she was proud of being able to create music as an independent artist most of her career, “even if we had to sell the house.”
Argentina’s Ortega, who became a pop icon in his native country early in life, said he felt that his career, which also included stints as a politician in his native country, was extremely satisfying and wished that the new generation of young artists much success.
Rios, who hails from Spain, said that he was going to read from his tablet to properly thank everyone.
“These inventions [tablets] are helping us today, or are they screwing us over?,” Rios said as laughter and applause filled the room. “There is so much talent here. It’s such an emotional day.”