Reflecting Latin music's status as the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. and international music markets, the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences on Friday named the nominees for its first Latin Grammy Awards.
A longtime dream of many in the Latin music world, the Latin Grammys took a dramatic step with the announcement, held at a Miami restaurant owned by Emilio and Gloria Estefan.
The 40 categories in the new Latin Grammys are designed to honor the many genres of music recorded in Spanish and Portuguese that can't be adequately represented in the seven existing Latin categories of the traditional Grammy Awards. The Latin Grammy ceremony will take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 13 and be broadcast nationally on CBS.
While some household names surfaced, including Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana and Marc Anthony, the vast majority of the artists nominated will be relative unknowns to most of the U.S. public, because for a song to qualify as "Latin," more than half of its lyrics must be recorded in Spanish or Portuguese.
Cuban-born, Miami-based producer and songwriter Emilio Estefan Jr., founder of the Miami Sound Machine and a Latin music mogul, came away with the most nominations, six in all, for work with various artists in several capacities. He shares producing credits on Carlos Vives' "El amor de mi tierra," nominated for best album, and on "Fruta fresca," a single from that album that is nominated for record of the year. Estefan was also nominated for producer of the year.
Nuyorican singer Marc Anthony and Colombian pop-rocker Shakira got the most nominations among performing artists, with five each.
The nominees for album of the year highlight the diversity of genres covered by the Latin music umbrella, including artists from four nations, and songs in several genres and two languages.
The Dominican Republic's Juan Luis Guerra was nominated for "Ni es lo mismo ni es igual," an album featuring merengue and bachata songs. Mexican crooner Luis Miguel was nominated for the romantic pop album "Amarte es un placer." Shakira received a nod for her "MTV Unplugged" album. Brazilian singer, songwriter and producer Caetano Veloso, a world music favorite, was nominated for "Livro." And Colombian singer and songwriter Carlos Vives was nominated for "El amor de mi tierra," which features modern takes on the traditional vallenato genre, as well as other tropical and rock influences.
The record of the year category, which is limited to singles and individual album tracks, was somewhat less diverse, with no Portuguese or Brazilian presence. Nominees include Marc Anthony for "Dimelo," the Spanish version of his English hit song "I Need to Know"; Panamanian singer, songwriter and lawyer Ruben Blades for "Tiempos,"; Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin for the Spanish version of "Livin' la vida loca"; Vives for "Fruta fresca"; and Mexican-born rock icon Carlos Santana for "Corazon espinado." The latter, a Spanish-language song featuring Mexican rock group Mana, appears on Santana's "Supernatural," which won a Grammy this spring for album of the year.
Besides record of the year, Anthony was also nominated for song of the year, and best pop male performance, all for "Dimelo." His duet with Jennifer Lopez, "No me ames," earned nominations for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal and for best music video.
Shakira's "MTV Unplugged" album earned her nominations in the album of the year and best pop album categories. Two of her songs from an earlier album, "Donde estan los ladrones," were nominated for best pop female performance, best music video and best female rock performance.
Weighing in with four nominations each were Guerra, Vives, Mexican pop-rock group Mana, and Argentine rock star, Fito Paez.
In addition to album of the year, Guerra received nods for song of the year, best merengue performance and best tropical song, all coming from the album "Ni el lo mismo ni es igual."
Vives' hit single "Fruta fresca" was also nominated in the best male pop performance, and Vives was nominated for best traditional tropical performance in addition to the best album.
Mana's additional nominations included best pop album and best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal from its "MTV Unplugged" album.
Paez was nominated for best male rock vocal performance and best rock song for the single "Al lado del camino," as well as for best rock album for "Abre."
Though he made an enormous splash in the mainstream pop world with his English album, Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin was nominated only in two categories, including best male pop vocal performance for the Spanish version of the single "Bella."
English-language pop star Christina Aguilera, who took home the Grammy for best new artist earlier this year, was nominated in the best female pop vocal performance category for "Genio atrapado," the Spanish version of her hit "Genie in a Bottle."
Other categories yielded surprises and Grammy firsts.