Calle 13 cash in with five Latin GRAMMYs at milestone telecast
Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 were the big winners at the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, celebrated Thursday evening at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Hosted by actress/singer Lucero and actor/comedian Eugenio Derbez, the ceremony was an extravaganza reminiscent of a Las Vegas-style show, including not only music and dance but also star presenters, grandiose production, special effects, and acrobats and gymnasts courtesy of "Le Rêve" and the Cirque de Soleil show "Mystère."
Calle 13’s René Pérez (aka Residente) and Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante) swept their five Latin GRAMMY nominations, taking home Record and Album Of The Year, Best Urban Music Album, Best Alternative Song, and Best Short Form Music Video.
Other big winners included alternative rockers Café Tacvba, veteran rock group Jaguares and singer/songwriter Caetano Veloso, who won two statues each. Also picking up Latin GRAMMYs were Mexican singer Alexander Acha, son of pop star Emmanuel, who won the coveted Best New Artist award; singer/percussionist Luis Enrique, whose comeback was rewarded with two awards including Best Salsa Album; pop rocker Fito Paez; singer Laura Pausini; former Menudo member Draco Rosa; and up-and-coming Mexican trio Reik.
There were several highlights during the milestone 10th anniversary telecast including veteran Cuban singer Omara Portuondo, winner in the Best Contemporary Tropical Album category for Gracias, becoming the first Cuban artist living in Cuba to receive an award onstage. Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, known as the Voice of Latin America not only for her artistry but her championing of social causes, passed away Oct. 4 before she was able to enjoy the fruits of her latest album, Cantora 1. The recording won two Latin GRAMMYs including Best Folk Album, and Sosa was remembered throughout the show, including a touching video segment introduced by Panamanian singer Rubén Blades.
Calle 13's Pérez, known for his tough and irreverent attitude, made perhaps the evening's most touching gesture in calling onstage Sosa's producer/musical director Popi Spatocco to hand him the Album Of The Year statuette. Pérez participated in Cantora 1, which had also been nominated in the Album Of The Year category, but lost to Calle 13's Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo.
The 10th Latin GRAMMY Awards will also be remembered for a distinct Mexican flavor, punctuated by the participation of Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel. Earlier in the evening, Latin GRAMMY-winning singer Enrique Iglesias presented Juan Gabriel with the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year award, introducing him as a "true superstar in a time of very few superstars." Juan Gabriel seemed genuinely moved and dedicated the award "to Mexico, of Mexico and for Mexico" and "to all those artists who are now starting their careers, struggling [and] looking for an opportunity. I wish them to do much better than I did."
Upon his return to the stage later, Juan Gabriel proved his superstar status in turning his special medley into an emotional, powerful half-hour fiesta that put the entire arena into a singing and dancing frenzy.
Other notable performances included a duet by Spanish pop singer Alejandro Sanz and GRAMMY-winning R&B songstress Alicia Keys on "Looking For Paradise"; Latin GRAMMY winners Wisin Y Yandel, who picked up Best Urban Song honors; Mexico-based Spanish duo La Quinta Estación; and a dance-inspired combo by veteran salsa masters Gilberto Santa Rosa, who won for Best Traditional Tropical Album, and Oscar D'Leon.
But the evening belonged to Calle 13, who reunited with Blades for a live performance of "La Perla," a song painting a portrait of growing up in the tough neighborhood of the same name in Puerto Rico. The elaborate staging included a set of Japanese taiko drums played by members of Cirque du Soleil's "Mystère" and a group of children, representing a befitting cultural and generational celebration of Latin American unity.