LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Puerto-Rican hip-hop duo Calle 13 won five Latin Grammy awards on Thursday, including the coveted Album of the Year, helping cement their reputation as being among the vanguard of alternative reggaeton music.
Singer Rene Perez, who calls himself “El Residente”, thanked his mother onstage, paid tribute to late Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa, and stayed true to his political songs such as “La Perla” by criticizing the Puerto Rican government.
“A round of applause for Mercedes Sosa,” Perez said as he won the Best Album trophy for “Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo.”
He also asked Puerto Rico’s authorities to help provide more jobs for unemployed Puerto Ricans.
Perez had audiences applauding after singing the hit “La Perla” -- a homage to Latin America’s poor neighborhoods called barrios and favelas -- with Panamanian salsa star Ruben Blades. As the pair sang, dancers from Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas show “Mystere” swirled around them.
Calle 13, whose other member is Perez’s stepbrother Eduardo “Visitante” Cabra, also earned Latin Grammys for urban album, alternative song, short video for “La Perla” and Record of the Year in a collaboration with Mexican rockers Cafe Tacuba.
Sosa, an Argentine folk singer who died on October 4, won a posthumous Latin Grammy for her album “Cantora 1,” which also won for best recording package.
Cuban singer Omara Portuondo, globally known a member of the celebrated “Buena Vista Social Club” band, won as Best Contemporary Tropical Album for “Gracias.” Portuondo, 79, is one of the first Cuban artists since 2002 to get a visa to perform in the United States.
In other awards, Puerto Rican Luis Fonsi won song of the year with “Aqui Estoy Yo,” and Argentine singer and composer Fito Paez was named best male pop vocal.
Italian singer and songwriter Laura Pausini opened the show singing in Spanish with “En Cambio No” and then went on to win best female pop vocal album.
Mexican singer Alexander Acha won as Best New Artist, and Spaniard Alejandro Sanz, a 13-time Latin Grammy winner, sang “Y Solo Se Me Ocurre Amarte” in a duo with pop star Alicia Keys.
Presenters included actress Eva Longoria, singer Enrique Iglesias and Miss Universe Stefania Fernandez, among others.
Latin Grammys are given in 49 categories representing the main musical genres of Latin America.
Reporting by Mario Anzuoni in Las Vegas and Adriana Garcia in New York; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte