The late salsa queen Celia Cruz won three times and was remembered with a musical tribute, while crossover star Ricky Martin and Colombian rocker Juanes also took home trophies Thursday night at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Cruz, who died last July, was nominated seven times for work from three albums — “Exitos Eternos” (Eternal Hits), “Hits Mix” and “Regalo del Alma” (Gift from the Soul).
She won top Latin albums artist, top female tropical album for “Regalo del Alma” (Gift from the Soul) and top Latin greatest hits album for “Hits Mix.”
During the show, three teenagers from an arts conservatory who received scholarships from the Celia Cruz Foundation performed some of her music for the fashionable crowd at the Miami Arena.
The Cuban-born singer known for colorful, audacious hairstyles and her trademark cry “Azucar!” was honored posthumously at the Latin Grammys in September. She also won a Grammy in February.
Fusing American pop and Latin music, singer Alicia Keys and Cuban-American jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval performed together. Also performing were Gloria Estefan, Alejandro Fernandez, David Bisbal and Paulina Rubio.
Martin, a finalist in five categories, took home awards for Latin track of the year and top male Latin pop airplay track for “Tal Vez,” (Maybe), and top male Latin pop album for “Almas del Silencio” (Souls of Silence).
Colombian rocker Juanes, who recently marked his 100th straight week on the Latin music charts for his album “Un Dia Normal” (A Normal Day), shared two awards with pop songstress Nelly Furtado for their stylish duet “Fotografia” (Photograph). He also won songwriter of the year.
Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Obie Bermudez and Mexican singer Thalia, who each had four nominations, were shut out.
New York-based singer India, Mexican group Conjunto Primavera, Mexican hip-hop artists Akwid and the group Lunytunes y Noriega also won twice.
Other notable winners included diva Jennifer Lopez, who won for top Latin dance single for “I’m Glad (Paul Oakenfold remix)” and Cuban pianist Ibrahim Ferrer, honored for top male tropical album.
Two special awards were given out. Colombian singer-songwriter Soraya, who survived a battle with breast cancer to continue her career, received the Spirit of Hope Award, given yearly to honor humanitarian contributions by an artist.
Banda El Recodo, started 65 years ago by Cruz Lizarraga, won the Hall of Fame award. The group is credited with popularizing Mexico’s banda music.
Television personality Candela Ferro and soap opera actor Mauricio Islas hosted the show, which was broadcast on the Spanish-language Telemundo network.
The awards honor the most popular albums, songs and performers in Latin music as determined by sales and radio airplay data published on Billboard’s weekly charts.