Vegas Spectacle, Cross-Genre Duos At Latin Grammys

Mexican pop-rock group Camila and Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra tied with three awards each at the Latin Grammys, a jubilant event that drew reggaeton artists in jeans, mariachis in traditional suits and actresses in slinky gowns.

The gala attracted top Latin stars from three continents. It also featured some odd pairings: Guerra rapping while synchronized swimmers kicked their legs upside down in pool. Enrique Iglesias performing with reggaeton duo Wisin y Yandel. Canadian-Portuguese folk-rocker Nelly Furtado and pioneering female hip-hop MC Mala Rodriguez getting their groove on with the b-boy crew Jabbawockeez.

Photo: AP Photo
Yandel, right, performs with Enrique Iglesias at the 11th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas.

But the audience embraced the pan-Latin diversity, enjoying every moment and relishing the artists’ exuberant expressions of Latin and national pride.

Camila won recording of the year and song of the year for “Mientes” and for best group vocal album for Dejarte De Amar.

Band leader Mario Domm thanked his mother for “putting up with so much noise” while the band recorded the album.

Guerra, whose career stretches over more than two decades, won album of the year and best contemporary tropical album for A Son De Guerra, and best tropical song “Bachata en Fukuoka,” adding to his previous 12 Latin Grammys.

He told the audience that the album might sound romantic but it’s also a call for morality. “The time has arrived for us to reclaim justice and integrity for the Latin American people,” he said.

The hosts, Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez and actress Lucero, worked their way through a list of 47 categories in diverse genres with devout followings, from sertaneja in Brazil to Tejano in the American Southwest, with some awards presented during the pre-show.

Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz won best male pop vocal album for Paraiso Express, bringing his career total to 17 Grammys.

“When I saw the opening of this Latin Grammys show, I got very emotional. I was at the first one,” he said. “And see how far we’ve come.”

Photo: AP Photo
Poses with award for best male pop vocal album at the 11th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas.

Venezuelan reggaeton duo Chino y Nacho burst out of their seats when they win for best urban album was announced.

Reporters asked them what he planned to do with his gold gramophone. “Put some shots in there and drink it,” Nacho said.

Bronx-born Prince Royce sang his chart-topping bilingual version of “Stand By Me” with Ben E. King, the song’s original composer and singer.

King’s granddaughter first played him the song. The difference between the original and the bachata version? “You can dance faster,” he told reporters later.

Ricky Martin sang “Lo mejor de mi vida eres tu,” with Natalia Jimenez of the Spanish pop band La Quinta Estacion. He also presented the Person of the Year award to Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo.

“Sadly many artists who I shared the stage with are no longer with us,” the 69-year-old tenor said. “That’s why it gives me such happiness to keep on singing and living days like this.”

Marc Anthony sang “Y como es el” along with Jose Luis Perales, who popularized the song in the 80s.

His wife, Jennifer Lopez, who sat in the front row, seemed moved by his second song, “Tu amor me hace bien” which brought the audience to their feet to dance.

Rapper Mala Rodriguez’s defiant but danceable hip-hop song, “No pidas perdon,” won in the best urban song category, beating out her male Puerto Rican colleagues, including Daddy Yankee and Don Omar.

Photo: AP Photo
Backstage with her award for best urban song for "No Pidas Perdon" at the 11th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas.

“Now they will always, always, always say, ‘the winner of a Latin Grammy, Mala Rodriquez.’ Sounds good,” she said.

Best alternative song went to the Colombian hip-hop group Choc Quib Town for “De donde vengo yo,” a earworm of a song about the remote Pacific coastal region of El Choco and its distinctive Afro-Colombian culture.

“Long live the African people of Latin America!” said Gloria Martinez, as she choked back tears of joy, resplendent in a royal blue head wrap and a shimmering yellow gown. Martinez said she chose the dress to wear the colors of Colombia and “to feel like myself.”

“They’re broadcasting this in the plazas in El Choco. We’re so proud. This is national news, for the Pacific to win a Grammy,” she said.

Mexican Ely Guerra brought home best alternative album for Hombre invisible, her first independent recording.

“We who make alternative music used to watch this from far away, so to win feels really good,” she said.

Even though Gustavo Cerati, lead singer of ’80s sensation Soda Stereo, has been in a coma since he suffered a stroke after a concert in Venezuela in May, he was honored for his recent solo work. Cerati won best rock song for “Deja Vu” and best rock album for Fuerza Natural.

Alex Cuba, a Cuban-Canadian songwriter and producer who has worked with Nelly Furtado, won for best new artist and promised “you’re going to hear lots from me really soon.” Furtado’s Mi Plan won for best female vocal album.

Pedro Fernandez wore an elegant white charro suit to sing “Celosa” and “Amarte a la antigua,” which won best regional Mexican song.

The awards ceremony at the Mandalay Bay Events Center was broadcast live on Univision in the United States and across Latin America.

Click here for the Latin Grammys website