MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Veteran Mexican musician Juan Gabriel won four awards, including top songwriter, and Ricky Martin received special recognition for his charitable works at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Gabriel, who earned five nominations, thanked “everyone for their 30 years of support” and accepted honors for track of the year and airplay track of the year for his hit “Abrazame Muy Fuerte” (Hold Me Tightly).
The awards presented Thursday night at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts honored the most popular albums, songs and performers in Latin music as determined by sales and radio airplay data published on Billboard’s weekly charts.
Gabriel also won track of the year for a vocal duo for his duet with Nydia Rojas entitled “No Vale la Pena” (It’s Not Worth It). Gabriel performed a bolero with the upstart group Los Tri-O.
Martin, among the top Latin performers to cross over to the English-language pop arena, received the special Spirit of Hope award for his charitable works. Past winners of the award include Olga Tanon, Willy Chirino and Los Tigres Del Norte.
El Gran Combo also won a special honor at Thursday’s ceremony, taped for broadcast Sunday on Spanish-language television network Telemundo.
Regulars on the salsa scene for four decades, El Gran Combo received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The 13-member group with one of the most renowned horn sections in Latin music released another album this year entitled “El Nuevo milenio — el mismo sabor” (New millennium — the same flavor).
The awards honored the most popular albums, songs and performers in Latin music as determined by sales and radio airplay data published on Billboard’s weekly charts.
Cristian won Latin track artist of the year, and Marc Anthony won the artist of the year award for top albums. Anthony’s “Libre” (Free) earned him the prize for male tropical/salsa album of the year.
Canada’s Celine Dion sang a Spanish song, “Aun Existe Amor” (Love Still Exists), and received a special award for her hit “My Heart Will Go On,” which was the first English-language song to top Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks chart.
Velasquez and pop stars Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Estefan were among the female nominees. Velasquez’s “Mi Corazon” (My Heart) won for female pop album of the year and Lopez took home the award for dance single of the year.
Colombian star Shakira, another crossover success, won the debut Viewer’s Choice Award, while Tanon netted the female tropical/salsa album of the year award.