Ruben Blades honored at Latin Grammys Person of the Year Gala – Billboard
From Christina Aguilera’s R&B version of “CamaleÃ³n and Beatriz Luengo, Rozalen and MarÃa LeÃ³n’s flamenco rendition of” El Padre Antonio y El Monaguillo AndrÃ©s “to tropical readings by Marc Anthony and Carlos Vives on hits like” Decisiones “, the person from the Latin Recording Academy The Dinner of the Year in honor of Ruben Blades highlighted one of the most prodigious, enduring and influential contemporary Latin music songwriters and catalogs, capable of withstand the test of time, genres and nationalities.
Blades has earned his place as a ‘songwriter who sings’, in the words of the late Nobel laureate and friend Gabriel GarcÃa Marquez, and as shown on Wednesday night, it is difficult to fail at execution when the material principal is so convincing.
Still, the high point of the night was Blades himself, singing his magnus opus âPedro Navajaâ with vocal force and undertones difficult for a 73-year-old to understand. He also looks and acts a lot younger, by the way.
But in his acceptance speech, Blades made it clear that for him age is not just a number, but a badge of honor.
âSomeone asked me, what’s left to do? Blades said, speaking in Spanish to the approximately 1,000 people attending the private gala at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. âEverything. I think it’s very dangerous to think that the applause we receive today can represent more than a transitory satisfaction to our ego. We will all reach the point where we have more past than future. And while many become famous, they are poverty stricken to live there. Fame is a place you visit; it is not a home. And those who do not understand this will suffer the consequences.
Examining the archive footage that aired during the evening reminded us of just how rich Blades’ musical career has been (the evening didn’t even touch on his many acting and political journeys), rewriting the trajectory of salsa and Latin music in general with sophisticated arrangements and captivating lyrics in which he told the stories of ordinary people representing a continent. No wonder his 1978 Siembra is still considered the best-selling salsa album of all time.
Blades acknowledged the help he received along the way. âDefining success and what it means is impossible for me, because success is never the result of one person or one action,â he said, before reading a long list. of names – from elementary school teachers to stars and executives big and small – of those who have influenced or impacted his career.
It was one of the many “pieces of paper” as he called them (JoaquÃn Sabina and Residente both read handwritten speeches), and emotional moments that punctuated the evening, with tears often in their eyes. among an audience that included stars like Bad Bunny, Juan Luis Guerra and Jay Wheeler.
Farruko, whose rap-infused rendition of “Amor y Control” was one of the highlights of the night, explained how his grandfather, who would later kill himself, would play Blades’ music for him. In her speech (the sheet of paper held by her brother), Residente, much like vintage Residente, incorporated the names of all the characters Blades invented into her songs. âNo one in music has your literary production,â he said. “You taught me that art takes precedence over everything, even though Superman’s story sells for more than Ramiro’s.”
And Sabina, who bestowed her prize on Blades, recalled GarcÃa Marquez once telling her that he would trade his books for that epic line from “Pedro Navaja”: Con el tumbao que tienen los guapos al caminar (rough translation: with the arrogance that real men have when they walk).
In addition to being honored as Personality of the Year 2021, Blades’ albums Salswing! and Salsa Plus! with Roberto Delgado & Orchestra are nominated for Album of the Year and Best Salsa Album, respectively, for the Latin Grammys on Thursday evening.