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Friday, December 2, 2022

At the Latin Grammys, Performers of All Ages Were Accepted and Celebrated

On Thursday night, the winners of the 23rd annual Latin Grammy Awards shared their prizes, which was a decision that made sense when considering the geographical, generational, and stylistic variety of Latin music. In a show that was broadcast from Las Vegas on Univision, multiple awards were given to three very different songwriters: the literary-minded Jorge Drexler from Uruguay, who won six; the genre-crossing hitmaker Bad Bunny from Puerto Rico, who won five; and the chameleonic, style-mashing Rosala from Spain, who earned four. Each of these songwriters hails from a different country.

The audience at the Michelob Ultra Arena could be heard expressing their disappointment that Bad Bunny was not present at the ceremony despite the fact that he had won multiple awards, including the award for best urban album, for his smash hit album “Un Verano Sin Ti” (which translates to “A Summer Without You”). Drexler won accolades for songs sang in both Spanish and Portuguese, and he performed on stage so often that when he was handed the trophy for song of the year for “Tocarte” (“To Touch You”), he questioned the people who were handing it to him, “Are you sure?”

While accepting the prize for album of the year for “Motomami,” Rosalá, who had just performed a medley that ranged from a piano ballad to gunshot noises to a warning about the dangers of fame to a bouncy merengue, was seen wiping away tears. She said that it was an album that she had to battle for, and she praised her audience for sticking with her despite the fact that, in her words, “my music is continuously evolving.”

The flashiness and giddiness of certain previous Latin Grammy spectacles was not present at this year’s event, making it one of the most levelheaded editions in recent memory. There were many tributes paid to the four-decade career of the Mexican musician Marco Antonio Sols, whose songs about stormy loves span the genres of pop, rock, and mariachi. These tributes served as a grounding element for the show’s workmanship. The programme began with performances of his songs by artists from all across Latin America; he also played on his own and, later, with Los Bukis, the band he created in the 1970s and reunited with after a hiatus of 25 years.

The Latin Grammys, like they do every year, served as a platform for passionate and vibrant live voices. Christina Aguilera and the Mexican songwriter Christian Nodal (who won best ranchero/mariachi album) wrung drama and melismas from “Cuando Me Dé la Gana” (“When I Feel Like It”), which is from her second Spanish-language album, “Aguilera.” This song was performed by Marc Anthony, who won the award for best salsa album (best traditional pop vocal album). On a stage set strewn with empty bottles, Romeo Santos performed the grandly self-pitying bachata “Bebo” (“I Drink”), whose narrator threatens to drink himself to death; as it came to a conclusion, a screen caption urged spectators not to drink and drive.

Another example is the collaboration between the Mexican singer Chiquis and the band Banda Los Recoditos; Chiquis was awarded the prize for best banda, which is the Mexican term for brass band. Chiquis was presented as a woman who had achieved success in a field dominated by men; but, when she took the stage, the male singers in Banda Los Recoditos made every effort to be louder than her.

The Latin Grammys make an effort to branch out into crossovers with artists from the English-speaking pop music scene each year. Elvis Costello added English lyrics and distorted, reverbed lead guitar to Drexler’s “Tocarte,” as backup singers in white jumpsuits pecked at samplers on white plinths, looking like lab technicians. John Legend sang in a duet with Sebastian Yatra on the best pop song winner, “Tacones Rojos” (“Red High Heels”), and the guests on Thursday played the role of translator.

There was a close tie for the prize for best new artist. One of the contest’s winners was Estrada, a Venezuelan musician who uses a guitar-like instrument called a cuatro to perform songs with a reflective, primarily acoustic sound. The second participant was a great-grandmother named Angela Alvarez, who is now 95 years old and was born in Cuba. She moved to the United States in the 1960s and was finally given the opportunity to record her own songs because of the support of a grandson. She was the performer that won a Latin Grammy at the oldest age ever. As she was accepting the prize, she gave a speech in which she emphasised that “even if life is terrible, there is always a way out, and with faith and love you can do it, I guarantee you.” It’s never too late to make a change.

Liniker was the first openly transgender person to win a Latin Grammy, and she received a standing ovation when she was announced as the winner of the award for Brazilian popular music (also known as MPB in Portuguese). The awards for the majority of the categories were handed out during a preshow, online ceremony. It was one indication that, despite the fact that award ceremonies will always be skewed, incomplete, and subject to debate, the Latin Grammys this year reached a satisfactory mix of ancient traditions and genre-stretching potential. This was shown by the fact that.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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