Voz Veis, Guerra, Martin pick up early Latin Grammys at show’s Las Vegas debut

Ricky Martin and Blue Man Group perform during the opening act of the 8th annual Latin Grammy Awards telecast in Las Vegas on Thursday. Mark J. Terrill, The Associated Press


Ricky Martin and Blue Man Group perform during the opening act of the 8th annual Latin Grammy Awards telecast in Las Vegas on Thursday. Mark J. Terrill, The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – Venezuelan vocal group Voz Veis landed two Latin Grammys early Thursday – becoming the first group from their nation to be honored – while leading nominees Juan Luis Guerra and Ricky Martin each picked up one trophy.

Most of the Latin Recording Academy’s 49 trophies were awarded during a segment before the nationally televised event, held for the first time in Las Vegas and slated to feature a mixed bag of performances, from award nominees to Las Vegas Strip staples including the Blue Man Group.

Voz Veis took home the awards for short form music video for “Ven A Mi Casa Esta Navidad,” and Latin children’s album for “Como Se Llega A Belen,” a collection of Christmas songs.

“This is an important moment,” group member Santiago Castillo said after receiving the first Grammy.

Backstage, Castillo noted the group’s album had a “magical energy” from the beginning.

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“It was done almost entirely a cappella,” he said.

Guerra and his band, 440, won the trophy for the tropical song category for the playful, upbeat “La Llave De Mi Corazon.” Those who worked on his album of the same name also picked up the award for best engineered album.

The Dominican-born Guerra, who received the Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year award Wednesday night, led all nominees with five nods, including for album of the year, merengue album, record of the year and song of the year.

Close behind on the trophy hunt were Martin and reggaeton duo Calle 13, each with four nominations.

Martin took home the award for long form music video for “MTV Unplugged.”

The singer, slotted to open the show by performing with Blue Man Group, was also vying for album of the year and male pop vocal album. “Tu Recuerdo,” a ballad off “MTV Unplugged,” was a contender for record of the year.

Calle 13 lost its shot at the music video award to Voz Veis, but the Puerto Rican duo’s sophomore album, the politically charged “Residente o Visitante,” was a contender for album of the year and urban music album.

One track, “Pal Norte,” on which the group highlights hardships faced by immigrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally, was up for the urban music song trophy.

Among the other preshow award winners was Sebastian Krys, who picked up the producer of the year trophy, and Brazilian Caetano Veloso, who won in the Brazilian song category for “Nao Me Arrependo.”

Several acts were up for more than one award, including Spain’s Miguel Bose, Colombian alt-rockers the Aterciopelados and Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee.

Other nominees for album of the year included pop singer Miguel Bose’s “Papito” and balladier Alejandro Sanz’s “El Tren De Los Momentos.”

Among the other contenders for record of the year were a couple of star-powered duets: Shakira and Beyonce’s bouncy “Bello Embustero” and Bose and Paulina Rubio’s poppy “Nena.” Argentine rocker Gustavo Cerati rounded out the category with his garage rock anthem, “La Excepcion.”

The show, being held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, marked the first time Las Vegas landed the Latin Grammys. The show was held in New York last year and has previously bounced between Miami and Los Angeles.

Las Vegas’ aura as a party town has made it a popular destination for high-profile award shows in recent years. In May, country music stars converged here for the Academy of Country Music awards. Most recently, it played host to the MTV Music Video awards.

The Latin Grammys were taking things a step further. Apart from the Martin-Blue Man Group performance, the telecast was incorporating Vegas showgirls from the long-running Tropicana Resort & Casino’s “Folies Bergere,” and elements from more contemporary shows such “HavanaNightShow” and “Stomp Out Loud.”

The Latin Grammys, scheduled for the third year in a row in Spanish on Univision Network stations, were also slated to feature performances by Bose, Latin hip-hop group Orishas, reggaeton star Ivy Queen and Mexican regional music band Intocable.

On the Net:

The Latin Recording Academy: www.grammy.com