Category: Yvonne Villarreal

Calle 13 is big winner at Latin Grammys with 9 wins

Calle 13 dominates Latin Grammys

Puerto Rican alt-hip-hop duo Calle 13 reigned supreme at this year’s Latin Grammy Awards, taking home nine trophies, including the top award for album of the year, for the anti-establishment album “Entren Los Que Quieran.”

The stepbrothers -- René Pérez, who calls himself Residente, and Eduardo Cabra, a.k.a. Visitante -- were honored for urban music album (an achievement that came “without being played on the radio,” as Residente noted). Earlier they won for alternative song and best short form video (“Calma Pueblo”), tropical song (“Vamo' A Portarnos Mal”), and producer of the year.

Going into the night, they led all contenders with 10 nominations. Winners of two Grammy Awards, their nine wins Thursday night mark a Latin Grammy record, surpassing the previous record of five they held with Juanes and Juan Luis Guerra.

And their stately presence was felt from the start. The duo opened the show performing “Latinoamérica” and were accompanied by the Orquesta Sinfonica Simon Bolivar, a youth orchestra from Venezuela, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, current music director and principal conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (Dudamel would later present the duo with the award for album of the year).

Latin music’s biggest night, now in its 12th year, was televised from the Mandalay Bay Hotel theater in Las Vegas on Spanish-language network Univision and was hosted by Mexican singer/actress Lucero and Chilean American actor Cristián De La Fuente. The night celebrated artists of various musical genres from throughout North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, as well as Spain. Most of the 49 Latin Grammy awards -- including top albums in Christian, Latin jazz and flamenco -- were handed out during a preshow ceremony.

Among the other winners were: Rubén Blades y Seis Del Solar in the salsa album category for “Todos Vuelven Live.” Trio Alex, Jorge y Lena (which consists of multi-instrumentalists Alex Ubago, Jorge Villamizar and Lena Burke) won for pop album by a duo or group with vocal. And Puerto Rican singer Sie7e (otherwise known as David Rodriguez), who put out the 2011 album “Mucha Cosa Buena,” was honored in the new artist category.

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Producer RedOne on the star-studded remake of 'We Are the World'


He's the studio virtuoso behind some of Lady Gaga's futuristic electro-pop tracks, and he's worked with artists as diverse as Enrique Iglesias and Akon, even New Kids on the Block. Now RedOne, the Moroccan-Swedish producer, can add a few dozen more names to that list, including Barbra Streisand, Kanye West, Sugarland and Miley Cyrus, thanks to his involvement with the new incarnation of the "We Are the World" single. A roster of 100 star-studded voices recently gathered in Los Angeles to re-record the song, which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie 25 years ago originally to raise money for African famine relief. The revamped version, proceeds from which will benefit aid efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, will premiere today on NBC during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.  

Pop & Hiss snagged a few minutes with the producer to talk about the new single.

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Notes from backstage at the Grammys

 9:20 p.m.
A glittery Taylor Swift was all smiles backstage. On what her four wins (as well as Kings of Leon's record of the year) means for Nashville: "Nashville is my favorite place in the world; to see it be recognized in such a beautiful way tonight at the Grammys just makes me so, so happy."

On her music's crossover sensibility: "For me, genres have really become something that I don't think people focus on anymore. Country music is my love. Country music is always going to be my home. I grew up in Pennsylvania ... my friends didn't listen to country music. I did because I could identify with these stories so much. I'm so grateful [to be welcome in country music] ...and for it to cross over so organically, [it] makes me thankful."

On whether country music is still the underdog: "I think that when you're making music, I think the healthiest thing to do is remove titles or stereotypes from what you're trying to do. It's not country versus rap ... it's not anything you don't make it. It's about trying to make an album you hope is good enough to win album of the year ... I did not expect this."

Maxwell300 9:13 p.m.: Maxwell, on performing with Roberta Flack: "She's a dream for me. Her voice is a national treasure, in my opinion. When I got the news that she was interested in doing it, it was like 'Wow.'... She's the cherry on top [to his Grammy experience this year]."

On "Pretty Wings" from his Grammy-winning comeback album, "Blacksummers'Night": I wrote 'Pretty Wings' because I'm always trying to be respectful of relationships that I have had, because I don't want to blow people up. I wrote it about a relationship that ended because I didn't want it to end ... wrong place at the wrong time."

7:31 p.m.: Alice Cooper has a larger-than-life persona but he knows how to divorce himself from the character: "You leave them onstage. If you can't take that animated character that you produced and leave them... If you leave them, then you can coexist with him. As soon as I'm offstage, Alice stays there."

Speaking of stage concoctions, Cooper had a few thoughts about Lady Gaga: "I think anybody that is as vaudevillian as she has taken it, that's OK with me. I think she proved her point tonight [by performing with Elton John]. She's not just a costume freak. She'll be around for quite a long time. She'll be around for as long as she wants."

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Calle 13 dominates Latin Grammy Awards


Puerto Rican alt-hip-hop duo Calle 13 swept all of its nominated categories Thursday at the 10th Annual Latin Grammy Awards. The act went five-for-five at the awards, which were held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, and took home trophies for record and album of the year, winning the top prize for its politically charged third offering, "Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo."

Accepting the record of the year trophy for "No Hay Nadie Como Tú," René Pérez, who raps as Residente, said from the stage, “This award, I have to dedicate to many people." He singled out socially conscious Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, who died in October.

"We love her very much," said Pérez of Sosa, whose "Cantora 1" was named best folk album. "Her music will live forever."

Residente and stepbrother Eduardo José Cabra Martínez, who performs under the name Visitante, led all nominees heading into the Latin Grammys. The duo also took home best urban music album; best short-form music video for “La Perla," featuring Panamanian salsa singer Ruben Blades; and best alternative song for "No Hay Nadie Como Tú," a collaboration with Mexico City rockers Cafe Tacuba.

The night brings their Latin Grammy total to 10; they're also one-time Grammy award winners. The 2010 Grammy Awards will take place at L.A.'s Staples Center on Jan. 31. 

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'Michael Jackson's This Is It': Live from the premiere

Pop & Hiss is live on the scene from the premiere of 'Michael Jackson's This Is It.'


8:32 P.M.: For a collection of Los Angeles Times photos from the premiere of "Michael Jackson's This Is It" click here. 

6:57 P.M.: Travis Payne, Jackson's associate producer/choreographer, was all smiles as he made his way across the red carpet. "Michael would have loved this turnout," Payne said. "It's time to celebrate Michael ... to rejoice in all his wonderful messages of peace and love. People are going to enjoy seeing the Michael I always got to see."

"This Is It" director Kenny Ortega echoed those sentiments. "You see Michael's vision for 'This Is It' ... You see him onstage as if he were standing in front of a full house. I hope the fans find satisfaction, that fans [who had tickets to the tour] will understand what Michael had planned for them."

6:46 P.M.: "American Idol" winner David Cook bobbed his head during interviews as some of Jackson's songs filtered out of the speakers. "We're here kind of celebrating the life of one the greatest entertainers of all time," Cook said. "It's a circus."

The singer, who credited Jackson as an influence, was eager to get inside to see the movie. "I'm expecting a Michael Jackson show. I think anything short of that, they wouldn't put it out. Without Michael Jackson, the bar is definitely lower for everyone else."

Another "American Idol" alum, Adam Lambert, cited the "Thriller" video as his fondest Jackson memory and was excited to get a glimpse into the "artistic genius. I'm really curious to see what went behind the creative process."

Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," commented on Jackson's legacy as seen through the thousands of contestants who audition in both reality competitions: "He's more of an influence than all the greats-- Gene Kelly, James Brown. He is it. He wasn't so much a brilliant dancer, but a brilliant mover. It's sad that it takes tragic circumstances to create a legend... but he was always a legend in my eyes."

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Calle 13 leads Latin Grammy noms with five [UPDATED]


Alternative reggaeton duo garnered five nominations, the most of any artist, for the 10th annual Latin Grammy Awards announced Thursday at the Conga Room in downtown Los Angeles.

Among the nominations, the Puerto Rican half-brothers are up for album of the year for their third studio offering, "Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo." They'll compete against Andres Cepeda, Luis Enrique, Mercedes Sosa and Ivan Lins & the Metropole Orchestra. 

"It's great -- we're up for album of the year! For me, that's just so awesome," Calle 13's René Pérez, a.k.a. Residente, said in a telephone interview following the announcement. "It's a great day. We're very happy to be nominated so many times." 

In addition to album of the year, "Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo" is nominated for best urban music album. The first single from the album, "No Hay Nadie Como Tú" featuring Café Tacuba, is up for record of the year and best alternative song.

Calle 13 also will compete in the short-form music video category for "La Perla," featuring Ruben Blades.

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Kanye West apologizes for his VMA outburst again: 'It was rude, period.'


Outspoken rapper Kanye West told Jay Leno that he’s taking some time off to reflect on his actions after his controversial outburst over the weekend at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Leno didn't waste time poking fun at the situation in the opening monologue of his new hourlong prime-time program on NBC: "It's been a busy week for President Obama. I understand he's having Kanye West and Taylor Swift [over] to the White House for a root beer summit. See, she's only 19 so it's gotta be root beer."

West was lined up to perform with Rihanna and Jay-Z on Monday night’s premiere of “The Jay Leno Show” but was not originally scheduled to chat with the host. However, after West drew criticism for hijacking the stage at Sunday night’s VMA ceremony during Swift's acceptance speech for her best female music video prize, the rap star decided to take the hot seat for some damage control.

“It was rude, period,” West, wearing all black, told Leno prior to the performance.

When asked how his mother, who died in 2007 of complications from cosmetic surgery, would have reacted to his outburst, West struggled to form words. "I've never taken the time off to grieve," West said. "It's just a shame my hurt caused someone else's hurt."

He ended the brief interview by adding he would take time off to analyze his actions and how he can "improve."

No word on how that might effect his previously announced plans to tour with Lady GaGa later this year.

--Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Kanye West and Taylor Swift/ Associated Press

Travis McCoy's 'life-altering' journey for MTV's Staying Alive campaign


Sure, he may be tweeting about the addictive nature of iPhone applications but Gym Class Heroes’ front man Travis McCoy isn’t ignorant to the societal problems that exist beyond the touch screen. The 32-year-old singer-songwriter and MTV Staying Alive special ambassador recently globe-trotted to South Africa, the Philippines and India to raise awareness about youth-driven HIV- and AIDS-prevention projects, and he’s returned with a new sense of appreciation for life’s luxuries.

“I feel I am blessed beyond words,” McCoy said in a phone interview last month. “I have the basic human rights that everyone should have access to … running water, a sewer system that works.  It’s crazy the things we take for granted. “

IPhones included.

So when he was approached with the idea of traveling the world to meet with three grantees of MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation Awards, he thought, "Hell yeah." 

“When I was younger, I had someone close to me die of AIDS,” McCoy said. “So I definitely feel a connection with the foundation. It hits close to my heart.”

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ASCAP's Rhythm & Soul Awards: Ne-Yo, Alicia Keys, Berry Gordy and more pay tribute to Michael Jackson


It was a night meant to honor the top songwriters and publishers of 2008 -- and it did. Winners shuffled to the stage Friday at ASCAP’s 22nd annual Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, posing for photos as they clutched onto their trophy. But it was also the night after Michael Jackson’s death, and the ASCAP ceremony took on the feel of a tribute, with Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Berry Gordy and more paying their respects to the fallen pop icon.

The event began with a moment of silence in honor of the King of Pop. A short montage immediately followed, highlighting the gloved one’s illustrious career -- from his days crooning hits such as “I’ll Be There” as part of the Jackson 5 to the night he exposed the world to his slick -- and often imitated, but never duplicated -- Moonwalk. The brief tribute was capped with a performance of Jackson’s ballad “Lady in My Life” by R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo, who ended the song with “We love you, Michael.”

But the Jackson appreciation didn’t end there. Artists such as gospel singer James Fortune and the GS Boys dedicated their performances to the pop tour de force, and other’s took time to expand on Jackson’s legacy. When she accepted ASCAP’s golden note award, 12-time Grammy Award winner Keys thanked Michael for his adventurous spirit.

Said Keys, “This man really broke all of the rules. He broke all the rules.There were no rules with him. Nobody could tell him what he could and could not do. How long his videos could or could not be.Or how the song structure should be.Or how many records he could or couldn’t sell. 

"He went and did from his heart as a genuine and good, blessed artist," Keys continued. "He broke all the rules and all the records. I think he is someone that obviously inspired us all to hopefully break the rules because we have to break the rules to break the records."

Before presenting the songwriter of the year award, record producer Timbaland sounded somber as he addressed the crowd:  “I’ve kind of been down for the last day. You know, I had an opportunity to work with Michael coming up, before the tour, and it’s been wild. The same thing happened to me when I was supposed to work with Biggie Smalls before he passed. It’s kind of a sad day … but a good day because his music lives on.”

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Colombian music star Fonseca expresses his 'Gratitud' at the Grammy Museum

Juan Fernando Fonseca is pop powerhouse in his native Colombia. He leads a modern Latin band outfitted with electric guitars and a synthesizer. And his songs, about love, are pop confections with catchy hooks and infectious melodies — sometimes dipped in jazz and R&B. He became a pop phenomenon in his home country with his self-titled debut album in 2002. By 2006, he won a Latin Grammy for his hit song “Te Mando Flores” off his second album, “Corazon.”

Today, he wraps up a 12-city U.S. tour — which sold out nine dates — to promote his latest album, “Gratitud.”

And earlier this week, he performed at the Grammy Museum in front of roughly 200 people. The music seduced many out of their seats to dance, demonstrating why Fonseca is the first Latin artist to perform at the museum.

The 30-year-old singer-songwriter, known by his surname Fonseca, follows the trail blazed by the international success of his countryman Carlos Vives, who merged rock guitar and drums with vallenato, the fast-paced, pump-push style on the button accordion that surfaced in Colombia’s Caribbean north coast.

“There is nothing like vallenato,” Fonseca said in an interview prior to his museum performance. “It moves you. It goes through your body and makes you feel. That’s what makes music so great. When you can feel it and connect with it.”

Fonseca's profound connection with music is what led him to participate in the Canta Conmigo (Sing With Me) program last year. The musical project, co-organized by the Presidential Council for Reintegration, aims to rehabilitate former paramilitaries and guerrillas and help them reintegrate into Colombian society. Auditions were held in more than 30 cities, seeking former rebels who have a musical background. Twelve were selected to be trained as professional musicians, leading to making an album and performing a concert in April. It’s a project that Fonseca said he hoped to expand to include Colombian army soldiers.

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