The 23rd Latin Grammy Awards were presented on Thursday at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a night full of surprises. While Bad Bunny was expected to win Album of the Year for his record Un Verano Sin Ti, the prize went to Motomami by Spanish singer Rosalía. Visibly surprised, Rosalía said: “Motomami was a record I had to fight really hard to create […] but it’s brought me so much happiness.”
In her acceptance speech, she thanked her boyfriend Rauw Alejandro, who she described as the love of her life. Later, speaking to the press, Rosalía also spoke of the trailblazing women who inspired her: Björk, Kate Bush and Patti Smith. As well as Album of the Year, Motomami also won Best Alternative Music Album, Recording Package and Production.
There were more surprises in the category of Best New Artist, which was won by 95-year-old Cuban singer Ángela Álvarez. She was born in Cuba, but left Havana in 1962 following the Cuban Revolution and headed for Louisiana. Her father did not let her sing as a child, but her late husband encouraged her to write music. Her first album, made up of songs she wrote decades ago, was produced by her grandson. Álvarez’s story is now being told in the documentary Miss Angela. “To those who have not fulfilled their dream, although life is difficult, there is always a way out and with faith and love you can achieve it, I promise you,” Álvarez said in her acceptance speech. “It’s never too late.”
The big winner of the night was Jorge Drexler, who took home six Grammy Awards. “You have no idea how unexpected all this is for me,” he said as he accepted the Song of the Year award for Tocarte, which he performs with Spanish rapper C. Tangana.
Bad Bunny, however, did not walk away empty-handed. The Puerto Rican star won five of the 10 awards he was nominated for: Best Urban Music Album (Un Verano Sin Ti), Best Rap/Hip Hop Song (De Museo), Best Urban Song (Tití Me Preguntó), Best Urban Fusion/Performance (Tití Me Preguntó) and Best Reggaeton Performance (Lo Siento BB:/), which he won alongside Tainy and Julieta Venegas. But he was not there to accept the awards in person, as he is currently performing on the South American leg of his World’s Hottest Tour.
Bad Bunny may not have won Album of the Year, but there is no doubting his influence. In August, he became the first Latino to have a sellout tour in the United States, while his album Un Verano Sin Ti “has been the most listened-to album released this year across all genres,” according to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “That is the power of Latin music to reach and connect with fans universally!” it added. On Tuesday, Bad Bunny also made history, becoming the first artist with an all-Spanish album to be nominated for a Grammy Award.