LATIN Grammy hopefuls

Tuesday, July 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ Colombian newcomer Juanes and Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz led the list of nominees Tuesday for the second annual Latin Grammy awards.

Juanes was nominated for six and Sanz for five. They'll up against bilingual teen pop diva Christina Aguilera, Aterciopelados and Gilberto Gil for record of the year. For album of the year, they'll vie with Vicente Amigo and Mexican singer Paulina Rubio.

Juanes is also up for best new artist and best rock solo vocal album. His song ``Fijate Bien'' garnered nominations for best rock song and song of the year.

Sanz's song and album of the same name, ``El Alma Al Aire,'' received nominations for song of the year, best male pop vocal album and best music video.

Nominees in 39 categories will compete for the awards in Latin music, which has gained mainstream interest due in part to the success of such crossover artists as Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony. The awards will be handed out Sept. 11.

``We're probably concentrating this year a little more on discovery of talent,'' said Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and the Latin Recording Academy. ``We'll still have the big artists ... but we're committed to finding new artists that can be successful.''

Last year, Miami's civic leaders rejected a request from both academies to be the host of the show. They cited an ordinance barring the county from doing business with those who have dealings with Cuba. The show was held in Los Angeles instead.

But this year, a coalition led by Miami Mayor Joe Carollo and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas courted the awards show after the ordinance was invalidated.

Producer-songwriter Emilio Estefan Jr. said he was glad he and his colleagues could put the dispute behind them. ``People worry too much ... They should never mix music and politics,'' said Estefan, who's married to singer Gloria Estefan.

Jorge Mas Santos, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, attended the announcement ceremony Tuesday and emphasized his support for bringing the show to Miami. ``Make no mistake about it: This is a community that is a center of ideas of freedom of expression and cultural exchange,'' Mas Santos said. ``I am proud to be part of this endeavor.''

Greene has said Miami-Dade County would have to come up with $1 million to maintain the production standards established during last year's show.

Last year's awards show caused disputes among Latin music artists who felt that commercial music was favored at the expense of distinctive Mexican styles, such as norteno and tejano. The largest Latin record label in the United States, Fonovisa, boycotted the awards. Mariachi star Pepe Aguilar, nominated for best ranchero performance, also refused to attend.

Miami-Dade County, which is 57 percent Hispanic, has become a Latin music center in recent years with the help of celebrities like Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Miami Beach is home to Sony's Latin division and three times has been the host of Midem Americas, a Latin and Caribbean music conference.

Cuban timbalero Tito Puente, who died last year and was honored at the Los Angeles show, ws nominated again this year for his work with Eddie Palmieri titled ``Obra Maestra.''

Also receiving a posthumous nomination was Cuban music legend Chico O'Farrill _ who died June 27 _ for the best Latin jazz album ``Carambola.''

Martin garnered one nomination for his Spanish-language version of the mainstream hit ``She Bangs.''