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Jorge Drexler poses with the trophy for Record of the Year during the 15th Annual Latin Grammy Awards on November 20, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada (AFP) photo: John Gurzinski

Guitar great De Lucia honored at political Latin Grammys

Las Vegas, By Sara Puig (AFP)

Late guitar great Paco de Lucia and superstar Enrique Iglesias won top prizes Thursday at the Latin Grammys, which took a political edge as artists cheered President Barack Obama’s plan to help immigrants.

The top award night for the Spanish- and Portuguese-language music industry paid homage to De Lucia, a Spanish legend of the flamenco guitar, who died in February at age 66.

De Lucia posthumously won Album of the Year for “Cancion Andaluza,” which also was declared Best Flamenco Album. De Lucia’s widow said that the album was a passion for De Lucia, who dedicated the last months of his life to it.

Guitar great De Lucia honored at political Latin Grammys
Jorge Drexler (2nd L) accepts the Grammy for Record of the Year during the 15th Annual Latin Grammy Awards on November 20, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada (AFP) photo: Mark Ralston

Iglesias, who has built a fan base cross language lines through his crossover pop, won three awards including Song of the Year with the Cuban artists Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona for their collaboration “Bailando” (“Dancing”).

The three artists, who did not attend the ceremony in Las Vegas, dedicated the award to the Cuban people in a video message.

Uruguayan singer Jorge Drexler expressed “massive surprise” as he won the prestigious Record of the Year for “Universos Paralelos,” a Colombian-inspired song. He dedicated the award both to Colombia and his grandfather.

– Obama in focus –

The Latin Grammys came with an unexpected political undertone as Obama delivered a national address on immigration just as the ceremony was set to begin.

The audience at the Mandalay Bay arena watched on a giant screen as Obama, who flies to Las Vegas on Friday, announced plans to protect some five million undocumented migrants from deportation.

While main US television networks declined to air Obama’s speech, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision delayed its broadcast of the Latin Grammys to US East Coast viewers to show first the president’s remarks.

Carlos Vives dedicated his Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Tropical Album to Obama, who won two elections with strong support from US Latinos but faces heated political opposition over his unilateral move.

“I’ve never heard any United States president speak about our Latinos as Obama has,” said Vives, who is Colombian.

Guitar great De Lucia honored at political Latin Grammys
The audience at the 15th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada, watches as US President Barack Obama delivers a speech on immigration on November 20, 2014 (AFP) photo: Mark Ralston

The New York-born Puerto Rican superstar Marc Anthony also paid a nod to Obama as he voiced surprise at winning the Latin Grammy for Best Salsa Album.

“Long live the Latin race!” he exclaimed as he accepted the prize for the album “3.0.”

The Latin Grammys also marked the red carpet debut for Marc Anthony and his new wife, Venezuelan model Shannon De Lima. The couple married earlier this month, soon after Marc Anthony finalized his divorce from fellow music giant Jennifer Lopez.

– Tribute to Spanish legend Serrat –

Obama’s immigration initiative was not the only issue on the minds of the artists. Calle 13, which won for Best Urban Music Album, implored Mexican authorities to resolve the case of 43 university students who are missing and feared to have been massacred.

“This is a disaster that cannot go unpunished. This is a matter of human rights,” said Rene Perez, the Puerto Rican duo’s singer.

“We cannot tolerate this. This cannot become an example,” said Perez, sporting a shirt with the name of the young men’s Ayotzinapa teacher-training college.

The Latin Grammys closed out with a tribute to Spanish singing great Joan Manuel Serrat, one day after a concert in Las Vegas honored his half-century career.

Serrat, accepting a Person of the Year award, offered thanks to his mother, his teachers and to “the public, that anonymous entity that carries us throughout our artistic life and without which we could not be.”