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In Spain, the Latin Grammys Recognize Powerful Women

Spain tried to share the cultural clout of its former colonies at the 24th annual Latin Grammy Awards, which were broadcast worldwide on Thursday night from the Fibes convention center in Seville. It was the first Latin Grammy ceremony to take place outside the United States.

Even with the trans-Atlantic move, the top awards went to women from Latin America. Karol G, from Colombia, won album of the year for “Mañana Será Bonito.” Shakira, from Colombia, shared song of the year, a songwriting award, for her collaboration with the Argentine producer Bizarrap, “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53.” They performed it on the show, with Shakira dancing sinuously and defiantly.

Karol G became the second woman to win a Latin Grammy for musica úrbana album, a decade after the Spanish rapper Mala Rodríguez in 2013. “How cool is it for a woman to win this?” she exulted. And “TQG,” her duet with Shakira from that album, was named best urban/fusion performance.

Record of the year, an award for a single, was by Natalia Lafourcade from Mexico: “De Todas las Flores,” the title track of a richly retro album that was named best singer-songwriter album. “This is the most personal album I made at a time when I felt completely broken,” she said while accepting an award at the preshow. “I didn’t even know where to start, and music once again taught me its power, its medicinal power.”

Joaquina, an introspective 19-year-old songwriter from Venezuela, won as best new artist. “They told me I wouldn’t make it if I recorded my own songs, but here I am,” she said in a tearful speech. “Music is always worth the pain.”

For the Latin Recording Academy, which gives the awards, Latin music isn’t defined by geography or history. It’s simply a matter of what language the lyrics are in: Spanish, Portuguese or Indigenous languages of the Americas. This year’s award for person of the year, a lifetime achievement award, went to Laura Pausini, an Italian singer who has spent much of her three-decade career performing in Spanish.

The Latin Grammys’ venture to Spain was supported by a $24 million grant, for this year’s Latin Grammys and other musical events in Andalusia, from the European Union and the government of the region of Andalusia, the cradle of flamenco.

The awards took place on the annual International Day of Flamenco, commemorating UNESCO’s 2010 recognition of flamenco as an “intangible cultural heritage.” While Caribbean reggaeton and regional Mexican music are the styles that have spearheaded Latin music’s new worldwide popularity, the awards show played up the influence of Spain and flamenco.

The preshow awards webcast began with the clang of a martillo — an anvil, harking back to a flamenco tradition of using rhythms from Roma blacksmiths — and a medley from the nominees in the flamenco category including Niña Pastori, the winner. She called flamenco “music of purity” and congratulated her fellow nominees, urging them to “keep fighting for this flamenco, which is the most beautiful music there is.”

The main awards ceremony began with the Spanish songwriter Rosalía, whose “Motomami” was named album of the year in 2022. She sang “Se Nos Rompió el Amor” (“We Destroyed Our Love)” — a dramatic hit by Rocío Jurado, a Spanish singer who died in 2006 — in a stark crescendo surrounded by flamenco guitarists and hand-clappers. The raspy-voiced Spanish songwriter Alejandro Sanz performed amid 30 flamenco dancers. With orchestral backing, the popera tenor Andrea Bocelli sang a vibrato-charged “Granada,” the Mexican songwriter Agustín Lara’s tribute to the Spanish city.

Where Latin American songwriters had collaborated with Spaniards, those songs were featured. Pablo Alborán, from Spain — who has had 24 Latin Grammy nominations without a win — was joined by the Argentine songwriter Maria Becerra for their duet, “Amigos,” before she went on to sing a fierce solo version of her bitter, wrathful post-breakup song “Ojalá” (“I Hope”). The Spanish songwriter Manuel Carrasco sang with the Colombian songwriter Camilo before they were also joined by the Brazilian singer Iza and by Camilo’s longtime collaborator Edgar Barrera, who was named producer of the year and songwriter of the year. Barrera also shared the songwriting award for regional Mexican song, the hit “Un x100to” (“One Percent”) by Bad Bunny and Grupo Frontera.

The show offered a little recognition for the regional Mexican music that has been a growing international force in recent years. “Ella Baila Sola” (“She Dances Alone”) — a speedy, horn-pumped waltz about winning over a beautiful woman — became a blockbuster international single this year, and it got its first onstage performance in Seville from its studio and video collaborators, Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado.

The Mexican songwriter Christian Nodal, who won awards for both norteño album and ranchero/mariachi album, shared a vehement lovers’-quarrel duet, “La Siguiente” (“The Next One”), with Kany García from Puerto Rico. The Mexican songwriter Carín Leon got two performing slots, on his own and with the Colombian singer Maluma.

Cross-genre, cross-border collaborations increasingly define pop both within and beyond the United States, and no music awards show can quite keep up. But the Latin Grammys’ excursion to Spain came across as a field trip, not an advance.

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