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Colombia's Cabas Is the Life of Latin Grammy Party

September 20, 2002|MARIA ELENA FERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After several Colombian artists took home four Latin Grammys on Wednesday night, Colombian best new artist nominee Andres Cabas electrified the EMI Latin after-party at the House of Blues with a riveting 45-minute performance that demonstrated the 24-year-old singer-composer is here to stay.

But more than an opportunity to showcase Cabas' inspiring Caribbean fusion songs, the night was historic for his homeland. "When I started in this business, I never dreamed that I'd be in this space where I'd be showing America my thing, that special thing I share with my people," said Carlos Vives, who turned the folksy vallenato style of Colombia into an international rage in Latin music and picked up two Grammys on Wednesday.

"Most people never thought a night like tonight was possible. But being here makes me think a lot about my country, and it moves me a lot to know that people are seeing a side of Colombia they don't normally see."

Vives, a gracious celebrity known for his hippie style, tucked his signature long curls in a black beanie and wore matching psychedelic paisley pants and a T-shirt.

With unadulterated excitement, he spent the night mingling and posing for photographs, hugging and kissing anyone who let him. The only things that stopped him were performances by Mexican norteno band Intocables and Mexican pianist and singer Alex Syntex, who played before Cabas.

The EMI Latin bash was a private affair for artists and VIPs on the second floor of the House of Blues, but tickets were sold to fans for the ground-floor area.

Celebrating her first Grammy, veteran singer Alejandra Guzman danced wildly to the merengue sounds of Los Ilegales while exclaiming that she only wanted to speak to people who don't know her.

Other artists who made appearances were Mexican superstar and nominee Thalia and husband, Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola; producer-of-the-year winner Kike Santander and his wife; best banda album winners Banda Cuisillos; and Mexican sensation Alejandro Fernandez.

Best new artist winner Jorge Moreno, 28, who was up against Cabas, was still in a daze when he arrived at the party with his girlfriend and brother.

" 'Shocking' is not a good enough word," said the Cuban American pop singer-songwriter. "I am enjoying this, but I'm not even sure that I'm here yet."

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