Colombian singer Manuel Medrano and Puerto Rican artist Yandel each won two Latin Grammy Awards Thursday during a ceremony that began with a strong message in defense of Latinos.
Juanes and Pablo Lopez opened the show with a performance of “Tu Enemigo” (“Your Enemy”), backed by a gospel choir and Cirque du Soleil gymnasts. The song includes the lyric, “your hands are my flag and I have a song as my border.”
Show host Roselyn Sanchez repeated the lyric after their performance, saying, “the only barriers that should exist are the songs.”
Actor-director Diego Luna, who presented the song of the year award to the composers of “La Bicicleta,” urged unity among Latinos.
“Together we can fight hate and discrimination,” he said. “We are stronger together.”
Medrano was named best new artist and also won for singer-songwriter album. Yandel won urban song and urban fusion for “Encantadora.” Other winners included Gente de Zona and Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizárraga.
Performances were as common as prizes during the ceremony. Laura Pusini, Jesse y Joy and Wisin were among the entertainers who took the stage.
Earlier in the evening, during an untelevised presentation, late Mexican composer Juan Gabriel received his first Latin Grammy Award Thursday.
His album “Los duo 2” was named best traditional pop vocal album, and his music also won the singer India best salsa album honors for “Intensamente India Con Canciones De Juan Gabriel.”
Singer Andres Ceballos of Dvicio, who presented Gabriel’s award, seemed unaware the artist had died. After proclaiming him the winner, Ceballos said Gabriel was not present and that the academy would ensure he received his award.
Considered one of Mexico’s greatest singers and composers, Gabriel died in August at age 66. The Latin Recording Academy recognized Gabriel as its 2009 Person of the Year.
Argentine entertainers Illya Kuryaky & The Valderramas, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Spanish star Alejandro Sanz, Colombian Fonseca and Mexican Julieta Venegas also claimed prizes ahead of the live broadcast of the 17th annual Latin Grammy Awards at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.