A Latin Grammy Award is an award by The Latin Recording Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in the Latin music industry. The Latin Grammy honors works produced anywhere around the world that were recorded in either Spanish or Portuguese and is awarded in the United States. Submissions of products recorded in regional languages from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula of Hispanophone or Lusophone countries such as Catalán, Guarani, Quechua may also be considered. Both the regular Grammy Award and the Latin Grammy Award have similar nominating and voting processes, in which the selections are decided by peers within the Latin music industry.
The first annual Latin Grammys ceremony was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on September 13, 2000. Broadcast by CBS, that first ceremony became the first primarily Spanish language primetime program carried on an English-language American television network. The most-recent ceremony, the 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, was held on November 16, 2017 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since 2005, the awards are broadcast in the United States by the television network Univision. In 2013, 9.8 million people watched the Latin Grammy Awards on Univision, making the channel a top-three network for the night in the U.S.
The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (now The Latin Recording Academy) was formed by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (now The Recording Academy) in 1997. It was founded by Michael Greene and Producers & Songwriters Rudy Pérez & Mauricio Abaroa. Rudy Pérez was the Grammy Florida chapter's first President of the Board. The concept of a separate Grammy Awards for Latin music began in 1989. According to organizers, the Latin Grammy Awards was established as the Latin music universe was deemed too large to fit on the Grammy Awards. The Latin Grammy Awards mainly focuses on music from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. In 2000, it was announced that the 1st Annual Latin Grammy Awards would take place at the Staples Center on September 13, 2000. On July 7, 2000, the nominations were announced in Miami, Florida, United States. The Latin Grammys were introduced with over 39 categories included limited to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking recordings. The first telecast took place at the Staples Center and was broadcast. The following year's show was canceled due to the September 11, 2001 attacks, which was the same day the show was to take place. In 2002, the academy elected its first independent Board of Trustees. In 2005, the broadcast was moved from CBS to Univision where the whole telecast was in Spanish.
Voting members live in various regions in the US and outside of the US including Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. To be eligible a recording must have at least 51% of its content recorded in Spanish or Portuguese and has been commercially released in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Spain, or Portugal. Products recorded in languages and dialects such as Catalan, Nahuatl, Quechua, Galician, Valencian, Mayan, may be accepted by majority vote of the committees of the Latin Recording Academy. For instrumental music, the Latin Recording Academy accepts recordings that have been composed or interpreted by an Iberian American musician. The eligibility period is July 1 to June 30 for a respective awards ceremony. Recordings are first entered and then reviewed to determine the awards they are eligible for. Following that, nominating ballots are mailed to voting members of the academy. The votes are tabulated and the five recordings in each category with the most votes become the nominees. Final voting ballots are sent out to voting members and the winners are determined. Winners are later announced at the Latin Grammy Awards. The current President & CEO of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences is Gabriel Abaroa, who is related to Mauricio, one of the founders.
Altogether there are three events: the Life Achievement when renowned artists are honored for lifetime achievement; Person of the Year, when one artist is honored at a gala dinner, and Grammy itself, an award that brings together artists from all over Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula and that today is broadcast live to 80 countries, including Brazil, by channel Univision (TNT in Brazil).
Alike from the Grammy Award there is a general field consisting of four genre-less award categories:
The rest of the fields are genre-specific. Special non-competitive awards are also given out for more long-lasting contributions to the Latin music industry.
The first telecast had 40 awards presented however the following year 38 awards were presented. The most recent telecast in 2010 had a total of 46 awards presented.
With 21 Latin Grammy Awards, Calle 13 have won the most Latin Grammy Awards. Juanes, with 19 Latin Grammy Awards, holds the record for most awards won by a solo artist. Shakira is the biggest winner among female artists with 13 awards.
As with its Grammy Awards counterpart, the Latin Grammy Awards has also received criticism from various recording artists and music journalists.
Upon the announcement of the Latin Grammy Awards in 1999, several musical journalists raised concerns about the awards being used as a marketing tool by the mainstream media. Manny S. Gonzalez of the Vista En L.A felt that the award would just be used to advertise artists being promoted by Emilio Estefan. The lack of categories for non Spanish and Portuguese-speaking music has been criticized, namely by artists who consider their work to be "Latin" but are not eligible for a Latin Grammy including those from Haiti and Celtic musicians from the Galicia and Asturias regions of Spain. The linguistic requirement has also been criticized by Tony Succar whose album, Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson, was not eligible for a Latin Grammy Award despite the album being recorded in salsa. In response to the criticism, a spokesman for the Latin Recording Academy stated: "The Latin Recording Academy considers music based on the contents of the recording itself -- the technical elements that go into the art of music making -- not based on how a recording or an artist is marketed externally." In 2001, Cuban exiles living in Miami protested at the Latin Grammy Awards for allowing musicians living in Cuba to perform at the stage. This resulted in the Latin Grammys being moved to Los Angeles for the second annual awards (which would eventually be canceled due to the aforementioned September 11 attacks).
Venezuelan singer-songwriter Franco de Vita called the Latin Grammys "fake and a lie" and stated that if he were to win the award, he would not accept it. He later received a Latin Grammy for his album En Primera Fila. American musician Willie Colón observed the relationship between the Latin Grammys and major Latin record labels. Mexican singer-songwriter Aleks Syntek noted that Mexican artists in general were apathetic towards the awards.
The Latin Grammy Awards are held annually in Las Vegas. The ceremony has been held there annually since 2009 and was first held there in 2007. The ceremony spent its first few years being held in Los Angeles and in 2003 took place in Miami. The ceremony had also been held once in New York City and Houston.
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