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THE 38TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS | Latin

Secada, Estefan Top the List as Voters Go Conservative

February 29, 1996|--ENRIQUE LOPETEGUI

Guess who won the Latin Grammys?

In another display of conservative judgment, the voters further solidified Jon Secada's and Gloria Estefan's stature as the most powerful figures--U.S.-based, at least--in Latin pop, and Miami as its musical mecca. Secada and Estefan are among today's best-known and loved Latin artists, but whether their recordings deserved the honors is arguable.

In the tropical Latin performance category, Estefan's "Abriendo Puertas," her so-called tribute to Latin American music (although it's dominated by Colombia's accordion-tinged sound), is not nearly as good as "Mi Tierra," her Afro Cuban masterpiece that deservedly won a Grammy in 1993. To make things worse, her most worthy competitors were none other than Cachao and the duo of Willie Colon and Ruben Blades. But Cachao is too good to get a second consecutive Grammy, and the other two don't fit the conservative mold in this category. Their nomination was surprise enough.

Secada won in a weak category--Latin pop performance--in which only Mana's "Cuando los angeles lloran" stood as an above-average work. But Secada is Secada, and he had the perfect dose--an unusual, Nat King Cole-style album full of cheesy lyrics and a cheesy title ("Amor"). The pop-rockers will have to wait for a while because next year another romantic album will probably win.

On the bright side, Flaco Jimenez earned his second Grammy (not counting the one he won in 1990 with the Texas Tornados) as the undisputed best of a pathetic Mexican-American category in which only Juan Gabriel provided serious competition.

And a Latin performance won in a non-Latin category, pop instrumental: Los Lobos earned a trophy for their "Mariachi Suite" from the "Desperado" soundtrack, winning over the Allman Brothers Band, Kenny G, Dave Grusin and Bruce Hornsby.

In other words, same old story--the most popular always wins, and once in a while something really good happens.

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