Colombian rocker Juanes, dance diva Paulina Rubio and Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra were each triple winners at the flashy Billboard Latin Music Awards on Thursday night.
Juanes’ “Mi Sangre,” which touched fans with its stories of political and social struggle interwoven with messages of hope and love, won male Latin pop album of the year, while Rubio’s chart topping “Pau-Latina” was named the best female Latin pop album.
The long-haired, guitar-playing Juanes also won hot Latin track of the year and top male Latin pop airplay track for the song “Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor” (“I’m Nothing Without Your Love”).
The honors follow Juanes’ designation as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and his tight cumbia-rock stylings have drawn even English-speaking audiences on his recent tour.
“This award would not be possible if it wasn’t for all of you out there, the fans who support me,” Juanes said, lifting his award statuette. “This is also for Colombia.”
He later played the song “La Camisa Negra” (“The Black Shirt”), which was banned in the Dominican Republic for its sexual undertones. After starting, he was forced to begin again after singing into a microphone with no sound.
Rubio earned prizes for top hot Latin tracks artist and best female Latin pop album. She appeared on stage in a Native American headdress, cowboy vest, tank top and shorts after singer Soraya and pop-rocker Aleks Syntek kicked off the show singing “Duele el Amor (“Love Hurts”). Syntek originally sang the duet with Ana Torroja, a song that earned two awards.
Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony show up on the red carpetAlso performing were the group Conjunto Primavera, balladeer Christian Castro, Mexican star Thalia, and salsa singer and actor (and Jennifer Lopez’s husband) Marc Anthony.
Anthony and Lopez, both dressed in teal outfits, waved to the red-carpet crowd as they arrived at the Miami Arena. Lopez wore a low-cut dress with her hair up, displaying sparkling earrings.
A stunning Thalia also graced the red carpet before the show, wearing a backless dress and a choker necklace.
Anthony also received Billboard’s Star Award, saying: “I’m not sure it’s possible for someone like me to be comfortable accepting such an honor.”
Among the award presenters were actor Jimmy Smits and music mogul P. Diddy, who appeared with bilingual rapper Pitbull. “I know a little bit of Spanish,” P. Diddy said in Spanish.
The invasion of rock and urban sounds into mainstream Latin music was reflected in the choice of performers. Daddy Yankee, an up-and-comer in the reggaeton genre, and hip-hoppers Crooked Stilo had electric performances. P. Diddy joined Daddy Yankee on stage in the show’s finale.
Daddy Yankee took home the inaugural award for best reggaeton album. The genre mixes rap with reggae beats. Akwid won for Latin rap/hip-hop album of the year.
Guerra, a songwriter who expanded the horizons of Dominican music with the album “Bachata Rosa” 15 years ago, won two awards for his album “Para Ti (“For You”) — male tropical album of the year and Latin Christian or gospel album of the year. He also won the Spirit of Hope award for the work of his foundation, which raises money for medical care for children.
The most emotional moment of the evening came when Christian singer Tony Melendez, who plays guitar with his feet because he was born without arms, performed a song he wrote in honor of the late Pope John Paul II. Melendez had performed for the pope when the pontiff visited Miami in 1987.
Other big winners Thursday night were the eclectic group Los Horoscopos de Durango, which won three regional Mexican categories for their album “Locos de Amor” (“Crazy for Love”). The group mixes regional Mexican with other Latin sounds.
Veteran Mexican singer Marco Antonio Solis was nominated eight times, winning once for his greatest hits album. But a more significant honor was his Lifetime Achievement Award.
The singer-songwriter’s 20-year career started with the popular group Los Bukis before he embarked on a pop solo career and built a hemisphere-wide popularity.
Hosting the awards were TV personalities Candela Ferro and Saul Lisazo.
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. The show was broadcast live on Telemundo.