Latin Grammys to Be Broadcast in Spanish

Thursday, November 3rd 2005, 10:54 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ When presenters crack jokes and artists make acceptance speeches during Thursday's 6th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, they'll be doing something natural for them but novel for the show _ speaking in Spanish.

Songs competing for awards have always been in Spanish and Portuguese, but hosting network CBS traditionally presented the show in English to reach a broad prime-time audience.

This year's show will be broadcast in Spanish on Univision, a change made after CBS dropped the show following last year's low ratings.

Organizers believe the change in network _ along with expanding the show from two to three hours _ will help boost the show's image and ratings.

``After five years, we thought, 'Shouldn't we go the other way around and first reach out to people whose first music and language is Spanish?''' said Latin Recording Academy president Gabriel Abaroa. ``We are taking a 180 degree change of route.''

The show was born amid the ``Latin-invasion,'' with artists such as Ricky Martin and Shakira attempting to cross over into the English language market. But in recent years, fewer Latin artists are making that transition. Instead more are seeking success in their native tongue or opting for a Spanglish mix.

Abaroa said organizers hoped the show would keep Spanish-speaking viewers engaged because presenters wouldn't have to spend time explaining the genres of stars like Alejandro Fernandez, Carlos Vives or Juan Luis Guerra.

``Latinos will easily recognize any of these artists, so you won't have to explain anything,'' he said.

And it will avoid some of last year's more awkward moments, such as the pairing of Spanish flamenco-singer David Bisbal with American pop princess Jessica Simpson.

Nominees are excited about the changes, but some wonder what to expect.

``Just being in Spanish doesn't mean it will be a better show,'' said producer Sebastian Krys, nominated for producer of the year. ``I think we're all curious to see how it's going to be different.''

One thing that is certain _ the show needs to improve its ratings. Last year, the Latin Grammys garnered a paltry 3.3 million viewers, down from 7.5 million the year before.

The show will be held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, with Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking artists competing in 43 categories that range from best new artist to top Latin children's album.

Topping the headliners is Spanish singer and songwriter Bebe, whose music mixes gypsy-style flamenco and punk. Bebe was nominated for record and song of the year for ``Malo,'' best new artist and album of the year and best female pop vocal album for ``Pafuera Telaranas.''

Household music stars in Latin America with nominations include Marc Anthony, Juanes, Aleks Syntek, Obie Bermudez, each up for three awards.

Anthony, born in New York City, was nominated for best male pop vocal album for ``Amar Sin Mentiras'' and best salsa album and best tropical song for ``Valio La Pena.''

Colombia's Juanes is up for awards for best rock solo vocal album ``Mi Sangre,'' best rock song ``Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor'' and best music video for ``Volverte a Ver.''

Mexico's pop star, Syntek, received nominations for record of the year and song of the year with ``Duele El Amor'' and best music video for ``A Veces Fui.''

Bermudez, from Puerto Rico, was nominated for album of the year and best male pop vocal album for ``Todo El Ano'' and song of the year for the album's title track.

JD Natasha, a 17-year-old newcomer, also received three nominations: best new artist, best rock solo album for ``Imperfecta-Imperfect'' and best rock song for ``Lagrimas.''

``I didn't think my first album would get so much recognition,'' said Natasha, who began recording at 15. ``I'll be facing artists like Juanes ... so many of them are my idols.''

Natasha, born in Miami to Cuban and Argentinean parents, mixes edgy Spanish and English lyrics with hard rock sounds.

Music insiders say other rising stars to watch this year include Puerto Rican-born Daddy Yankee and a handful of other reggaeton artists. Yankee, whose ``Gasolina'' album has sold 1.5 million copies, is the first reggaeton artist ever nominated for record of the year.

Reggaeton mixes Jamaican dancehall reggae, salsa, Dominican meringue, Puerto Rican bomba and rap music. It was born in the Caribbean more than 10 years ago, but only took off commercially in recent years.

``I feel like they are finally doing justice with this generation of reggaeton,'' said Vico C, a Puerto Rican reggaeton and Spanish rap pioneer who has been nominated for best urban album and will perform Thursday. ``Before this year's (Grammys), I could never even think about getting to perform in one.''