Santana Wins 3 Latin Grammys

Not content with his record eight Grammys in February, legendary guitarist Carlos Santana won three trophies today in the inaugural Latin Grammy Awards, including the top prize — record of the year.

The veteran rocker’s duet with Mexican rockers Mana, Corazon Espinado, won record of the year seven months after another Santana song, Smooth, won the same honor at the other Grammy Awards. He also won an award for rock performance by a duo or group with vocal and for best pop instrumental performance.

Miguel Wins Three

Mexican crooner Luis Miguel also won three awards, including album of the year for Amarte Es Un Placer. Mana won one award in addition to its two with Santana.

Santana, who alternately dedicated his awards to Africa, to the women of the world, bilingual education and Nelson Mandela, said winning so often doesn’t make him jaded.

“It feels like the first kiss, when a beautiful woman allows you to touch her tongue with your tongue,” he said. “It feels very natural and divine and human.”

The awards were started by an offshoot of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which produces the Grammys, to capitalize on a growing interest in Latin music.

Fury Over Definition

With a broad definition of Latin music—anything sung in either Spanish or Portuguese—the first nominations caused some controversy. The largest Latin record label in the United States, Fonovisa, boycotted, complaining that the Latin Grammys slighted Mexican styles such as norteno, tejano and ranchera. Three of its artists won awards and were not there to accept them.

There also was some grumbling that television producers were favoring artists who sing in English and are better known among Americans. American teen favorites Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and Ricky Martin performed.

“I hope these awards will unite people,” producer-songwriter Emilio Estefan said. “Latinos were discriminated against for many years. I feel now we’re making progress in bringing recognition to our culture.”

Estefan, Argentine rocker Fito Paez, Colombian singer Shakira and Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra won two trophies apiece.

Tribute for Puente

A hip-swiveling Martin, paying tribute to the late mambo king Tito Puente, opened the Latin Grammy telecast. Puente, who died in June, won an award for best tropical performance. A tearful Audrey Puente, a television news personality in New York City, accepted the trophy for her father. She said he was particularly proud of his album, Mambo Birdland, and hoped it would win an award.

“Not only was he a great musician and humanitarian, but he was a great leader for the Latin community,” she said.

The Latin Grammys named a Cuban singer in his 70s, Ibrahim Ferrer, as its best new artist. He came to prominence recently through his work on the Buena Vista Social Club album.

Estefan, Gloria’s husband, was honored as producer of the year for his work on eight separate albums. He also directed the winner of best music video, Gloria Estefan’s performance of No Me Dejes De Querer.

Guerra won awards for best merengue performance and his song, El Niagara En Bicicleta, was named best tropical song. Paez was the songwriter for Al Lado Del Camino, which won the Latin Grammy for best rock song. The same song won best male rock vocal performance.

Fathers vs. Sons

In a category that pitted two fathers and sons against each other, heartthrob Alejandro Fernandez won best ranchero performance, beating his father, Vicente. Antonio Aguilar and his son, Pepe, were also nominees in the category.

Shakira, honored for best female vocal and best female rock performance, saluted her native country.

“I want to dedicate this award to that country that is going through difficult times right now but never forgets how to smile,” she said. “This is for you, Colombia. Para ti Colombia.”

A blue-haired Celia Cruz won a Latin Grammy for best salsa performance.

The two-hour ceremony was televised on CBS in the United States and was seen in more than 120 other countries.

The 2,600 members of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences were eligible to vote in the 40 award categories.