Las Vegas was home to some extraordinary events this week, all leading up to the Biggest Night in Latin Music. Monday’s rehearsals brought in bets on who would be taking home a trophy this year and prompted buzz about a few surprise appearances. After days of preparation, events and special awards, everything culminated on Nov. 16 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, in an evening that delivered a fiery star-studded show filled with exciting moments, incredible performances and words of inspiration.
Tuesday, Nov. 14 brought together some of the most influential women in Latin music at the inaugural Leading Ladies of Entertainment Luncheon. Marcella Araica, Leila Cobo, Erika Ender, Rebeca Leon, Gabriela Martinez and Jessica Rodriguez were all honored in a ceremony hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist and Univision co-anchor Pamela Silva-Conde.
Wednesday, Nov. 15, began with the Special Awards Presentation at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas honoring Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Lucecita Benitez, Joao Bosco, Ilan Chester, Victor Heredia, Los Del Rio (Antonio Romero Monge and Rafael Ruiz Perdigones), Guadalupe Pineda and Cuco Valoy. The Trustees Award recipients were Jon Fausty and Lalo Schifrin.
The celebration rolled into the evening with the Person of the Year Gala, honoring Alejandro Sanz. The extravaganza at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center included performances by Sanz, David Bisbal, Camila Cabello, Nick Jonas, Anitta, Santiago Cruz, Alejandro Fernandez, Luis Fonsi, Juan Luis Guerra, Jesse & Joy, Juanes, Mon Laferte, Natalie Lafourcade, Gian Marco, Manuel Fernandez Montoya "El Carpeta," Nina Pastori, Residente, Rosalia, Jimmy Zambrano, percussionists Nacho Arimany, Diego "El Negro" Alvarez, dancer Ismael Fernandez, Siudy Garrido, Manuel Medrano, Jesus Montoya and guitarist Jose Antonio Rodriguez.
Events on Nov. 16 began with the Premiere ceremony, which was presented by three-time Latin GRAMMY Award-winning singer/songwriter and producer Tommy Torres. Performances showcased Latin GRAMMY nominees Tiago Iorc, Las Migas, Debi Nova and Sig Ragga. Presenters included Paula Arenas, Eduardo Cabra, César Camargo Mariano, and Miranda!
The Biggest Night in Latin Music continued to usher in some of the most influential names in the industry. Hosts Jaime Camil and Roselyn Sánchez went live later in the evening at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in front of a packed house of excited fans.
The show opened with a performance by Residente, who took home the award for Best Urban Music Album. After Diplo and Debi Nova presented Record of the Year to none other than Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” Diplo came back to discuss his work in the Latin community. The world-renowned DJ/producer is gearing up to release a brand-new documentary coming Nov.17 on Apple Music, called “Give Me Future.” The film highlights Major Lazer’s historic concert in Cuba last year.
He says, “It’s a story about the community there that helped put the show together and how crazy the experience was.” On releasing new music with Major Lazer, the artist shared with AXS that you can expect some new, cool stuff next year.
Lin-Manuel Miranda was presented with the President’s Merit Award by The Latin Recording Academy’s President/CEO Gabriel Abaroa Jr. The composer/lyricist/performer recently released his bilingual single, “Almost Like Praying,” with all proceeds and streams going to aid in Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts. His inspired words about keeping Puerto Rico in the conversation delivered an uplifting message of hope throughout the evening.
When asked if he would ever consider running for office, the “Hamilton” star confirmed he has no plans to do that anytime soon. “I would rather write songs for you,” he says. “It’s much more fun.”
Lin-Manuel explained how it took him seven years to write “Hamilton” and seven years to write “In the Heights.” While there are no new musicals on the horizon, the Broadway superstar did say he will be acting in “Hamilton” in Puerto Rico in January 2019.
Puerto Rico seemed to be the big winner of the night as Luis Fonsi picked up every award he was nominated for. What Fonsi calls his “Hymn to Puerto Rico” won for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Urban Fusion/Performance and Best Short Form Music Video. Just days before the big event, the artist spoke with AXS about his 2017 smash hit during rehearsals for the Latin GRAMMYs. Fonsi closed out the show with “Despacito,” performing alongside Víctor Manuelle, Bomba Estéreo, and Diplo.
Other dynamic standout moments were when Juanes took the stage with Logic and Alessia Cara to do a medley of "Es Tarde" and "1-800-273-8255." Also, Steve Aoki, French Montana, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny brought the house down with their performance.
For a complete list of the 18th Annual Latin GRAMMY Award winners, you can visit the official Latin Recording Academy website at LatinGRAMMY.com.