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Vives Leads a Global Field

Music* Colombian performer's six nominations include album and record of the year, categories that also include Cuba's Celia Cruz.


Leading a group of nominees who reflect the global sweep and stylistic variety of Latin music, Colombia's Carlos Vives received six nominations for the third annual Latin Grammy Awards Wednesday, including best album, record and song of the year.

The long-haired, hippie-looking singer-songwriter, who turned the folksy vallenato style of his native land into an international rage in the Latin music world, was honored for his latest album, "Dejame Entrar," and its title cut, an inviting pop love song that has brought him renewed commercial success. Vives also earned nominations for best tropical song, best music video and best contemporary tropical album, one of two new categories added this year to the competition.

Veteran Cuban singer Celia Cruz was the second-most-honored nominee, named in four categories, including album and record of the year for "El Negro Tiene Tumbao." The lively album, which bestowed a contemporary patina on the grand dame of salsa, defies the current slump in the genre's sales, not to mention artistic vision. Cruz's album was co-produced by Johnny Pacheco, the Dominican bandleader whose collaborations with Cruz in the 1970s are milestones. Pacheco shares the best album nomination with co-producers Sergio George and Isidro Infante.

The two artists who swept last year's nominations--romantic Spanish heartthrob Alejandro Sanz and progressive pop-rock Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes--were back this year with three nominations each, including best song. Other top nominees announced Wednesday by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences--with three nominations each--are veteran singer Miguel Bose of Spain and newcomer Gian Marco from Peru. Powerful Cuban American producer Emilio Estefan Jr. also earned three nominations in the album and record of the year categories for his work on the Vives and Gian Marco records.

Rounding out the best record category is Chile's pioneering rock en espanol outfit La Ley, for "Mentira," from its "MTV Unplugged" album. The remaining nominee in the best album category is Brazil's Ivan Lins for "Jobiniando," a tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, produced by Roberto Menescal.

"What the nominations demonstrate is the dynamic nature of Latin music, which continues to renew itself very rapidly," Enrique Fernandez, head of the Latin Recording Academy, said following the announcement of the nominees at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

In its splashy but turbulent history, the Latin Grammys have quickly become the leading international showcase for Latin music, honoring artists and technical recording professionals whose work is primarily in Spanish or Portuguese. Unlike the original Grammy Awards, which focus on domestic U.S. releases, entries for the Latin Grammys come from nearly a dozen Iberian and Latin American nations.

This year's awards are scheduled to be presented Sept. 18 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and televised nationally on CBS. Awards will be handed out in 41 categories, from pop and rock to folk, jazz, Brazilian and classical.

Although this year's nominations underscored the international diversity of the Latin music scene, Colombia continued to prove itself a musical powerhouse. Four nominees from the war-torn country--Vives, Juanes, Cabas and Shakira--accumulated a total of 11 nominations among them. Andres Cabas, a brash singer-songwriter who goes only by his last name, was nominated for his self-titled debut album, a stunning and innovative fusion of cumbia and rock laced with sharp social observation.

This marks the second year in a row that a previously unknown Colombian artist has attracted attention with a nomination in the new artist category. Though not nearly as regaled as Juanes, who had seven nominations last year, Cabas now has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his folk-rock predecessor, who became an instant international star after winning the most nominations in the second awards competition.

Even Shakira, the Colombian crossover diva whose hit album does not qualify because it's primarily in English, was nominated in the best video category for "Suerte," the Spanish version of "Whenever, Wherever."

"I'm very happy for Colombia, because we continue to emerge and demonstrate a positive side to our country," said Juanes, who this year competes only with his uplifting single, "A Dios Le Pido." It's a cut from his new album, "Un Dia Normal," which was released too late to qualify.

Along with Vives, Cuban artists Sintesis and Vocal Sampling garnered nominations in the new contemporary tropical category, rounded out by Celso Pina and Felix D'Oleo.

(Records released between April 1, 2001, and March 31, 2002, were eligible for the awards, which will be voted on by the approximately 2,800 voting members of the Latin academy.)

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