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Houston Chronicle

Latin Music Awards Shows Promise Entertainment, Controversy


January 14, 2001
© 2001 Houston Chronicle. All Rights Reserved.

WITH a brand new year comes a new slate of music awards - the Grammys, Premio Lo Nuestro, Billboard Latin and Tejano music awards.

Premio Lo Nuestro, usually held in May, has been moved to Feb. 9 and will be held at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. The nominees and winners are selected and voted on by radio DJs and program directors. Categories include Latin pop, tropical/salsa, regional/ Mexican and videos.

The Grammy show is scheduled for Feb. 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Voted on by a 7,000-strong academy of music industry professionals, the awards honor more than 90 categories of music and technical skills.

There were familiar names, new faces and controversy in the recently announced Latin categories. Nominees for best Latin Pop album were Mi Reflejo, Christina Aguilera; Oscar De La Hoya, Oscar De La Hoya; Vivo, Luis Miguel; El Alma al Aire, Alejandro Sanz; and Shakira - MTV Unplugged, Shakira.

All great candidates. Though the favorite is easily the fresh and inspiring rock singer/songwriter Shakira, don't be surprised if the popular vote bestows the honor on the red-hot Aguilera.

More perplexing were the nominees in the Tejano category. Corpus Christi's Freddie Records artists swept the category with an unprecedented five nominations: Quien Iba a Pensar, Jimmy Gonzalez y El Grupo Mazz; Siempre Cuenta Conmigo, Leonardo Gonzales y Los Magnificos; En Vivo . . . Puro Party Live II, Jaime y Los Chamacos; Que Es Musica Tejana?, the Legends; and Hasta la Cima del Cielo, Solido.

How one label could sweep a category was a question on many minds.

Luis Silva, Freddie Records' marketing director, defended his label. "This shows that we are working as a team. Apparently we did something right, for the nominations to be there," he said, noting that other labels also received multiple nominations. "The surprise is that we were the only one to sweep."

Others did not share his view.

"It is a sad day for the Grammy process, obviously," said Alan Baxter, president of Platinum Management. "Let's not be ostriches and put our heads in the sand. Obviously, it is a political process. I don't want to take anything away from Freddie, but he does not dominate the market when it comes to quality."

EMI Latin promoter Lupe Rosales agreed: "There is no legitimacy. We know the marketplace, and those artists do not sell a fraction of what the others sell," Rosales said.

Jennifer y Los Jetz's Abrazame y Besame and Bobby Pulido's Zona de Peligro, both on his label, should have been nominated.

Abraham Quintanilla Jr.'s Q Productions roster includes Pena.

"Unfortunately, the Grammys is about politics, not about what the artist has achieved," Quintanilla said.

In the best-merengue-album category the nominees were El Padrino, Fulanito; Voy a Enamorarte, Gisselle; Masters of the Stage, Grupo Mania; Live, Ilegales; and Olga Viva, Viva Olga, Olga Tanon.

Gisselle was driving in Puerto Rico when she got the call informing her of the Grammy nomination. She nearly crashed her car in excitement, but she deadpanned: "Me quieren a la verdad que me quieren. (You like me, you really like me)."

"Seriously, this is amazing. I am extremely excited, having now been nominated two years in a row for best merengue album. With both myself and my good friend Olga Tanon nominated, it shows just how far women have come in a musical area that has long been dominated by men."

Another awards show that has moved from its traditional slot in March is the 2000 Tejano Music Awards, now taking place April 7 at the Alamodome. Officially launching the Tejano season is the annual TMA Kickoff Party, scheduled at the Far West Rodeo on Jan. 24. The TMA Video Awards are tentatively set for Feb. 14 at a venue still to be determined. The awards show will be preceded by a TMA industry awards banquet April 5 and the TMA Fanfare on April 6, both at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

The ballot for 2001 TMA nominations will be distributed this week, and the voting deadline is tentatively set for Feb. 9. The Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards are scheduled April 23-26 in Miami. The awards are based on record sales and chart positions for the calendar year and include Latin pop, rock, tropical/salsa and regional Mexican music.

Tidbits, one of the busiest Latin music broadcast Web sites, is offering 24-hour Cuban music programming. The Cubanismo channel offers a range of Cuban artists performing the classics, such as Perez Prado, Machito and Celia Cruz, plus contemporary heroes like Olga Tanon, Willie Chirno and Albita.

According to the January issue of Allure magazine, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez is the highest-paid Hispanic woman in film history. Lopez, 30, achieved that status by receiving $9 million for her role in the romantic comedy The Wedding Planner. She plays a busy bridal consultant in the film, which co-stars Matthew McConaughey and is set to open at theaters Jan. 26.

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