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Latin Grammy night belongs to Shakira

The Colombian superstar wins best album and 3 other awards. Calle 13 is named best new artist.

November 03, 2006|Agustin Gurza and Matea Gold | Times Staff Writers

NEW YORK CITY — Shakira, Colombia's belly-dancing superstar, consolidated her success as the bicultural queen of crossover with a sweep of three top categories Thursday in the seventh Latin Grammy Awards during a ceremony that celebrated the growing presence of Latinos here.

"Fijacion Oral Vol. 1," the singer-songwriter's first Spanish-language work in years, was named album of the year and her smash dance hit, the reggaeton-tinged "La Tortura," won for best record and song, which she performed with Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz at the open of the three-hour telecast from Madison Square Garden. This year's most nominated artist, Shakira took home all but one of the five awards for which she competed, including female pop vocal album.

In a brief appearance backstage, the singer held her Grammys and said she was overwhelmed by the multiple wins.

"It has been a magical night," she said. "I am happy, so happy for the people of my country, the Colombians who have merited the recognition for so many years and finally have it."

Her only loss came in the category for best video, which went instead to Calle 13, the provocative and irreverent reggaeton/hip-hop duo from Puerto Rico that also was named best new artist. The duo, who use the nicknames Visitante and Residente as an immigration spoof, emerged as the evening's dark horse victors by also upsetting big-name rivals Daddy Yankee and Don Omar in the best urban album category with their debut album.

The upset was in keeping with the subversive spirit of the group's winning song, the devilishly seductive "¡Atrevete Te, Te!" (Da-Da-Dare), a sexual hand grenade that blasts middle-class, suburban mores.

The triumph of Calle 13 provided the evening's only big surprise in a competition that otherwise produced fairly predictable winners. The duo's success maintained the Latin Grammy tradition of highlighting new and emerging artists, starting with Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes, who went on to become a major international star after being named best new artist in 2001.

This is the first time the awards were held in New York, and the first time the program was open to the public. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed a linguistic gaffe when he came out on stage to greet the sold-out audience with the Arnold Schwarzenegger line, "Hasta la vista," which means "see you later." The mayor made up for his premature goodbye, though, with a good-natured merengue twirl with Dominican singer Milly Quezada, who then led a lively video tour through Latino neighborhoods such as in the Bronx and Spanish Harlem.

Thousands of fans surrounded Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, undeterred by the chilly autumn night air as they packed the sidewalks waiting to spot artists heading to the awards ceremony. People screamed as stretch limos rolled down 7th Avenue carrying unseen stars to the green carpet around the corner.

The New York setting provided a grittier urban backdrop than usual for the ceremony as fans lined up outside dingy souvenir shops and seedy video rental stores to get a peek at the arrivals.

The array of winners -- many of them well-respected in their fields -- debunked the common wisdom that this year has represented a slump for Latin music.

They included Brazilian chanteuse Marisa Monte (samba album), Mexican composer Joan Sebastian (banda and grupero album) and Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa (folk album).

During the show, performers and presenters repeatedly celebrated the host city and cheered its Latino immigrants. Shakira, dressed in an elegant but modest black gown, used one of her acceptance speeches to express support for immigrants who, she said, "came to this country with a dream, as I did one day." In a soft voice, she added that she hoped they would "soon be acknowledged by the government with the visa for their dreams, which they deserve."

One of the members of Calle 13, sporting a bald tattooed head and a shirt with an image of Silvester Stallone's "Rocky" character, said, in an apparent reference to the new border wall recently authorized by Congress, "There are no walls. We go under walls!"

On a mostly apolitical night, musician Fer of the Mexican group Mana also spoke out against the wall in strong terms backstage.

"We think the most potent cosmic force in the universe is love," he said. "We're so upset about the wall that's being built north of our country. It's so sad that this is happening to the Latinos who put the bread and the fish and the water on the tables of all the Americans.

"Terrorism is not going to stop that way," he added. "Terrorism is only going to stop when the U.S. has cleaner external politics."

In accepting his honor as the Latin Recording Academy's Person of the Year, Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin made an impassioned statement on behalf of the world's exploited children, his personal cause.

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