Bad Bunny performs at the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Bad Bunny, Christina Aguilera, Rubén Blades, Danna Paola & More: 10 Unforgettable Moments From The 2021 Latin GRAMMYs
The 2021 Latin GRAMMYs, officially known as the 22nd Latin GRAMMYs, provided another successful celebration of the rich and layered tapestry of Latin music. The theme of "rediscovering life through music" echoed throughout the night, as artists sang of love and loss, honoring many greats by dusting off classics in the Latin music canon, and knighting new talents with a keen display of intergenerational unity.
Ringing in a new era in a new normal, artists and guests gathered at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to celebrate the sounds of more than 30 countries across 53 awards categories. Mexican singer Carlos Rivera, actress and singer Ana Brenda Contreras and Puerto Rican star Roselyn Sánchez hosted the night. Following a largely virtual year, the live audience at the awards show brought new energy and blissful hope to what was already destined to be an unforgettable night.
To celebrate the Biggest Night in Latin Music, GRAMMY.com revisits 10 unforgettable moments from the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs.
A Rich Display Of The Varied Tapestry Of Latin Music Kicks Off the Night
For the show's opening number, Gloria Estefan set the tone of the night with the song "Abriendo Puertas," launching a new beginning full of possibilities. Joined by Colombian artist Farina and Best New Artist nominee Giulia Be as well as Pedro Capo and Diego Torres, Estefan sang of the hope for the future: "After night, a new tomorrow shines … We're living life/And we're opening doors." The colorful display of dancers were then joined by other musicians and conga players clothed in all-white. The bright production took us to Brazil, with Anitta and Carlinhos Brown joining to sing "Magalenha." It was an explosive fusion that served as a representation of the merging of communities and cultures celebrated at the Biggest Night in Latin Music.
Rubén Blades Is Honored For His Vast Contributions To Latin Music
Rubén Blades made history as the first Panamanian to receive the accolade of the Latin Recording Academy's Person of the Year, and the honor could not have gone to someone more deserving. With more than 50 years in music, Blades has built worlds with his music, contributed to the legacy of others with his songwriting credits on songs like "El Cantante," and continued to evolve beyond the title of salsa artist, taking home the Latin GRAMMY Award for Album of the Year last night for his jazz album Salswing! The Latin GRAMMY was presented by one of his mentees, René Pérez (also known as Residente of Calle 13 fame), who was visibly shaking as he told Blades that no one in the music business has his level of work. "Marvel and DC Comics have to ask for your blessing because [neither] Metropolis nor Gotham City will be bigger than the world you created," Pérez said. "You showed me that art is above all."
The Most Nominated Artist Of The Night Makes A Case For Why He's Worthy Of The Honor
Why have one stage when you can have two? Camilo gracefully took to the Latin GRAMMY stage after two pre-show award wins — he'd later take home two more — to sing champeta-harkening "Kesi" and Best Pop Song winner "Vida de Rico'' while barefoot. The artist was introduced by none other than his wife, Eva Luna, who is pregnant with their first child, and his father-in-law, Ricardo Montaner. The Colombian singer/songwriter was the most nominated artist of the night, in the running for 10 categories including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. While that was partially thanks to a slew of collaborations with the likes of Rauw Alejandro and Los Dos Carnales, the mustached singer opted for a fully solo show.
Juanes And Café Tacvba Pay Homage To The Legendary, Unparalleled Divo De Juárez Juan Gabriel
It has been five years since the passing of Latin pop icon Juan Gabriel, and he continues to be missed as his music remains more cherished than ever. For his performance, Juanes chose to honor El Divo de Juárez with a special rendition of "No Tengo Dinero" — one of 12 tracks on his homage-paying 2021 album fittingly titled Origen. The rock-infused rendition was made all the better by beloved Latin alternative/rock band Café Tacvba, who joined Juanes to form a perfectly in-sync, classically and simply approached take that showed how timeless the song, and its maker, truly are.
Ozuna Brings The Glory Of Bachata-Imbued Drama To The Stage With Anthony Santos
Anthony Santos (no relation to Romeo) was Ozuna's guest of honor at this year's Latin GRAMMYs; a Dominican forefather of bachata, Santos, also known as El Mayimbe, welcomed the Puerto Rican artist into the community with their live debut. Their rendition of "Señor Juez" was ushered in by a stripped-down rendition of the Puerto Rican urbano artist's upbeat track from ENOC, "Del Mar." Nominated for two awards this year, Best Reggaeton Performance and Best Urban Music Album, Ozuna used this moment to make a case for his versatility beyond those all-encompassing umbrellas — a theme for this year's "reggaeton" artists.
Cuba Has A Standout Moment & Colombia Wins Big
For years — and in essence, the entirety of its existence — music has served as a fuel during protests, saying what words alone cannot. Over the last year, "Patria Y Vida" became a protest anthem for thousands who took to the streets to make their voices heard in Cuba and throughout the diaspora. The song, like the chants that swept across Cuba last summer, is a call for the end of the communist regime on the island. At the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs, the song won the Latin GRAMMY for Song Of The Year and Best Urban Song. Reggaeton duo Gente de Zona joined Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, and Eliecer "El Funky" Márquez Duany for a live performance of the song. The track was co-written by Maykel Osorbo, who is imprisoned; they dedicated the performance to wrongfully charged political prisoners back home. "Let's begin to construct what we've dreamt of," Alexander Delgado sang.
Colombia also had a stellar night, recognized for the talent it houses — new and old. Home to many of the sounds we love, including cumbia, champeta and vallenato, Colombia, as well as the Darién province in Panama, is home to bullerengue, a traditional/folkloric genre taken to center stage at the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs with Petrona Martinez's win for Best Folk Album. The South American country also got its flowers in the Best Reggaeton Performance and Best New Artist categories, which Karol G and Juliana Velásquez won, respectively.
Christina Aguilera Unites The Girls With A Live Debut Of Her Latest Spanish-Language Tracks
Exhibiting the layered facets of the tender yet strong spirits of women, Christina Aguilera opted for an empowering storyline to mark her long-awaited return to the Latin GRAMMYs stage. Aguilera first performed at the Latin GRAMMYs in 2000 for the inaugural award show; 21 years later, the American-Ecuadorian superstar took the stage and sang runs and around her runs to remind us of why she's top of le creme in both English and Spanish — the latter of which she was recognized for in 2001 with her first Latin GRAMMY for Female Pop Vocal Album for Mi Reflejo. "Somos Nada," a heartbreak ballad that explores how someone can simultaneously be your everything and nothing, ripped through the crowd, followed up by the playful "Pa Mis Muchachas" (For My Girls), performed alongside Becky G, Nicki Nicole and Best Alternative Music Album winner Nathy Peluso.
Read More: Songbook: How Pop Icon Christina Aguilera Traversed Two Cultures & Languages Across Her Discography
Danna Paola Gets Loud About An Important Issue
Danna Paola performed a bombastic version of her song "Calla Tú," sporting athleisure as her masked dancers kindled the energy around her. Paola's album, K.O., was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album this year, her first-ever nomination. Her purple-hued set was lit up by signs that read "Ni Una Más" in the background — a phrase that has echoed from Mexico to allies well beyond its borders in protest of senseless killings and as a call to action in support of the end of femicides in Latin America. The actress and pop princess on-the-rise had just a few minutes to urge you to pay attention, and her explosive performance amplified her message.
Bad Bunny Continues To Take The Road Less Travelled
Bad Bunny took the stage after winning the Latin GRAMMY for Best Urban Music Album, one of two awards he received that night. Rather than performing "Booker T," which won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Rap/Hip Hop Song, or bringing out a guest to perform a more recent chart-topping track like "Dakiti," Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio opted for a fiery rendition of "Maldita Pobreza." His performance of the rock-inspired track, off his 2020 album, El Último Tour Del Mundo, closed out the night with a reminder that artists can and should live outside of their presumed assigned categories.
Mexico Favorites Join Forces For A Supremely Special Throwback Thursday
Why ruin a good thing? Eight-time Latin GRAMMY Award-winning legends Maná and mariachi royalty Alejandro Fernández took the stage to perform 2003's instantly recognizable "Mariposa Traicionera." The unexpected duo elegantly bounced off of each other for a refreshing, stylistic fusion not bound by time or space. Fernández last took the Latin GRAMMY stage in 2019 with a stunning, three-generational performance alongside his father, Vicente Fernández, and brother, Alex Fernández — just one year after Maná became the first group to receive the Latin Recording Academy's Person of the Year honor.