LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Mexican pop trio Camila and Dominican merengue star Juan Luis Guerra were the big winners at Latin music's biggest night on Thursday, picking up three Latin Grammys each in top categories.
Camila's song "Mientes" won awards for song of the year and record of the year, while Guerra took home the album of the year trophy for "A Son de Guerra."
"I'm happy for them," Guerra said backstage when asked about his "tie" with Camila for the evening. Guerra's wins on Thursday, including for best contemporary tropical album and best tropical song for "Bachata en Fukuoka," brings his lifetime Latin Grammy tally to 15, he said.
Camila, whose members include Mario Domm, Samo and Pablo Hurtado, also won best pop album by a duo or group with vocals for "Dejarte de Amar."
"We feel very happy," Domm, who shared the song of the year Grammy with co-writer Monica Velez, said backstage. "We never imagined that we could win three Grammys."
Other winners included an emotional Nelly Furtado, who picked up the best female pop vocal prize for her first Spanish-language album, "Mi Plan."
"I don't believe it, I didn't prepare anything," the Canadian songstress said in Spanish while accepting her award. "Thank you very much for your support and your faith in me."
Spain's Alejandro Sanz won the best male pop vocal album Grammy for "Paraiso Express," and Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba claimed the best new artist trophy. Cuba, whose music reflects Latin, African, jazz and pop influences, co-wrote half the songs on Furtado's "Mi Plan."
From Mexican ranchero music to Brazilian samba and pop and rock, the Latin Grammys recognize music from all over the world so long as it is recorded in Spanish or Portuguese. The awards were held in Las Vegas and presented during a three-hour live broadcast on Spanish-language television network Univision.
The show, hosted by Mexican actors Eugenio Derbez and Lucero, featured performances in a range of musical genres, with plenty of Vegas flair.
Camila's performance of "Besame" featured acrobats from the Las Vegas show "Le Reve" flying in harnesses and plunging into a pool of water onstage, while Furtado and Spanish hip-hop artist Mala Rodriguez were joined by the masked urban dance crew JabbaWockeeZ for their performance of "Bajo Otra Luz."
Another highlight came when soul singer Ben E. King joined Dominican-American bachata singer Prince Royce onstage to sing Royce's bilingual cover of King's 1961 hit "Stand By Me."
Pop sensation Ricky Martin presented the Latin Recording Academy's Person of the Year award to Spanish opera star Placido Domingo, who was recognized for both his philanthropic and professional accomplishments. Domingo is the sole performer left of the famed Three Tenors after Luciano Pavarotti died in 2007 and Jose Carreras retired last year.
"This fills me with happiness and emotion," Domingo said, accepting the award.
Some 34 Latin Grammys were awarded before the main telecast during a ceremony streamed live on the Web. Argentina's Gustavo Cerati was the big winner at that event, picking up early awards for best rock album for "Fuerza Natural" and best rock song for "Deja Vu."
Cerati, who has been in a coma since suffering a stroke earlier this year, has been a fixture in Latin music for decades. He fronted the popular rock band Soda Stereo in the 1980s and '90s before launching a solo career.
Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Jill Serjeant