Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 won all five awards it was nominated for Thursday at the Latin Grammys in Las Vegas, including two of the top awards of the night and honors in both urban and alternative categories.
The awards show ran late because Mexico’s “Divo of Juarez,” Juan Gabriel, sang for 40 minutes straight while mariachis stomped on stage and the audience clapped and sang along.
Calle 13 won album of the year for its innovative collaborations and politically charged reggaeton. Left with little time to accept the golden gramophone for the top honor, lead singer Rene Perez, who raps as “Residente,” dedicated the award to Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, who died in October at age 74.
“May she rest in peace. An applause for Mercedes Sosa, please,” he said.
Later in the pressroom, Residente explained his admiration for the woman who helped found the “Nueva Cancion” movement, which merged folk traditions and leftist politics in the 1960s. “She is a voice who should never die, and young people should listen to her,” he said. “In an era of dictatorship and difficult times, she wasn’t afraid. That’s why I dedicated it to her.”
Residente and his half brother Eduardo Cabra, who goes by “Visitante,” also won recording of the year for “No Hay Nadie Como Tu,” their collaboration with Mexican rockers Cafe Tacuba, aka Cafe Tacvba. Their album “Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo” also won best album in the urban category, competing against other reggaeton acts.
During the ceremony, Calle 13 performed “La Perla,” an ode to a seaside slum in San Juan, with salsa legend Ruben Blades, while dancers from Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystere” leaped across the stage. “La Perla” won the award for best short-form video.
“Mercedes Sosa represents courage and strength for those of us who continue to support her efforts” for social justice in Latin America, Blades said in his introduction.
Italian singer Laura Pausini, who won best female pop vocal album, performed “En Cambio No,” to open the show, which was hosted by Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez and Mexican singer and actress Lucero.
Showgirls added Sin City flavor to a hip-shaking salsa jam by Venezuelan Oscar D’Leon and Puerto Rican Gilberto Santa Rosa. They also lent their moves to Los Tucanes de Tijuana’s “Se Fue Mi Amor,” which won for best regional Mexican song.
Performance highlights also included Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz and Alicia Keys singing her “Looking for Paradise,” Spanish folk rocker Natalia Jimenez of La Quinta Estacion belting out “Me Dueles,” and Juan Gabriel’s medley of hits with a mariachi band and folkloric dancers in colorful skirts.
The “Divo of Juarez” was honored with the Latin Recording Academy’s person of the year award the night before.
“For Mexico!” he said as he showed off his statuette.
He was scheduled to perform three of his hits, but when the band tried to wrap up his performance, Gabriel kept singing. He paraded through the theater while crowd members kissed and hugged him.
The audience laughed when he swung his wine glass in the air to the rhythm of “No Me Hagas Llorar,” spilling its contents across the stage and all over his lace-covered jacket and pink vest.
Most of the 49 awards were handed out during a pre-show ceremony. The variety of categories befitted the diverse musical traditions of the Americas, including best albums in Christian, grupero and Brazilian sertaneja music.
Members of the Latin Recording Academy voted for the winners of the 10th annual awards.