The second annual Latin American Music Awards on Thursday night didn’t disappoint, with a touching tribute to Mexican legend Juan Gabriel and performances from Pitbull, Flo Rida, Jesse and Joy, Nicky Jam, Prince Royce, Idina Menzel and Becky G.
Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias – who was not on hand to accept his awards – took home the most trophies, five, including artist of the year and favorite artist. His duet with Wisin, “Duele el Corazon” (“Pain in the Heart”), also took home the awards for favorite collaboration, single of the year and favorite rock/pop song.
La Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizarraga and CNCO shined bright as well, taking home three awards a piece, including new artist of the year for CNCO.
Prince Royce and J Balvin, who was also absent, took home two awards, while other winners included Becky G, Gente de Zona, Gerardo Ortiz and Zion and Lennox.
The show’s host, the Mexican actress Lucero, following an opening performance by Flo Rida, Pitbull and LunchMoney Lewis, began the show with a monologue offering prayers and support for those affected by Hurricane Matthew as well as making a reference to the upcoming presidential election in the United States.
Another Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo, used her appearance at Thursday night’s show to urge Latinos to vote in November.
“The most important presidential election for Hispanics in this country” is about to happen, she said in Spanish. “We Hispanics have the power to decide who will be the next president.”
Among other presenters was former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who recently became a U.S. citizen and made headlines by complaining that Republican candidate and former Miss Universe pageant owner Donald Trump body shamed her when she held the title.
“Of course we are going to vote!” she proclaimed.
The most emotional portion of the evening without a doubt came at the end when Shaila Durcal, Lila Downs and Aida Cuevas took the stage to pay tribute to the late Juan Gabriel. The trio were joined by the late singer’s longtime band Mariachi de Mi Tierra for stunning medley of the biggest hits of “El Divo de Juárez.”
Among other highlights was a performance by Tony-winning singer Idina Menzel, who sang for the first time on Spanish-language television.
“I’ve had a long history with some amazing, beautiful Latin fans who come to my shows. They’ll be backstage when I come off,” she told the Associated Press at the red carpet. “I have been pushing for a long time, saying ‘I really want to connect with these fans because they are so supportive.”