Fonseca, J Balvin & Julieta Venegas Score Early Latin Grammy Wins

Billboard

Veteran established names were the early winners at the 17th annual Latin Grammy Awards, with Alejandro Sanz, Paula Fernandes, Fonseca, J Balvin, Juan Gabriel, India, Los Tigres Del Norte, Julieta Venegas and Michael Salgado, among others, taking home trophies at the pre-telecast.

Beyond the wins, the early ceremony featured heartfelt speeches, with multiple calls for unity through music in the post-Donald Trump era.

"Walls should be only mental," said Mexican alt/rocker Carla Morrison, who won best alternative song for "Vez primera." "I hope us as a Latin community can focus on making quality music, sending a message of equality and quality in music to the new artists who aspire to be on this stage. It's important that we open our minds to give inspiration through music. We should not only talk about love. We have to open consciousness and open doors for new generations. Let's not allow some orange son of a bitch take away our mental, spiritual and emotional liberty," she added, directly referencing Trump, though not naming him.

"There is no racist or fascist who can harm us," said bandleader Arturo O'Farrill, who won best Latin jazz album with his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for Cuba: The Conversation Continues.

O'Farrill has taken the ashes of his father, the late Chico O'Farrill, to be laid to rest in Cuba in December, after 15 years of negotiations that were resolved this year when president Obama normalized relationships with Cuba.


Beyond politics, the only new name to surface in the early afternoon was Manuel Medrano, the Colombian singer/songwriter whose eponymous debut won in the best singer/songwriter category, besting stiff competition from the likes of veterans like Francsico Céspedes and Alejandro Lerner.

The big early winners were alt Argentine duo Ilya Kuryaki & The Valderramas, who won best alternative music album for L.H.O.N. and best short-form video for "El gallo" in a category that featured little-watched productions and none of the big names that have made YouTube waves this year.


Also, Brazilian singer Céu won best Portuguese language contemporary pop album for Tropix, which also won best engineered album.

Fonseca, who along with Jesse & Joy is the most-nominated artist this year, won bBest cumbia/vallenato album for Homenaje a la música de Diomedes Díaz. 
"Vallenato was the genre that inspired me and I receive this award with a lot of respect," said Fonseca, who also has a second album, Conexión, up for album of the year.

Fellow Colombian J Balvin won best urban album for his commercially successful and much-touted Energía, while best urban song went to "Encantadora," the Yandel hit co-written by Farruko, Yandel, Egbert Rosa Cintron and Eduardo Vargas.


As was widely expected, the late Juan Gabriel won in the traditional pop vocal album category for his chart-topping Los duo 2. And veteran norteño group Los Tigres del Norte won best norteño album for their live set Desde el azteca, while their song "El ataud," written by Erika Ender, Manu MOreno and MOnica Velez won best regional song.

The competition was decidedly more heated in the tropical categories. Best salsa album, a category featuring only veteran acts, was won by Intensamente India con canciones de Juan Gabriel, India's heartfelt homage to her good friend Juan Gabriel, who was involved in the album's production.

Rafa Arcaute, whose credits include Diego Torres' Buena Vida, up for album of the year, won producer of the year. 

For a full list of winners so far, head to LatinGrammy.com.