Ruben Blades He arrived grateful and curious to a charity concert in which dozens of stars soothed him with versions of their classics to honor him as Person of the Year 2021 of the Latin Recording Academy and those were some of the surprises.
“I am curious to know how my teammates’ performances are going to be. I don’t know who they are, I asked that they please not tell me, I didn’t ask anyone. I tried to know as little as possible, ”he expressed with emotion upon arriving at the evening at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
In a brief interview with The Associated Press, he also said that “we have to be thankful because success, as I have said and will repeat all tonight, is never from one person. Success is a combination of ingredients and elements, contributions from many people ”.
The event, whose details were kept strictly hermetic, had the participation of more than 40 artists who also included Rozalén, María Toledo and Beatriz Luengo, who sang “Father Antonio and the altar boy Andrés”; Farruko, who sang “Amor y control”, and Andrés Calamaro, who sang “Paula C”. Flor de Toloache sang “You will remember me” and Residente, a lifelong admirer of Blades, gave a speech of about five minutes and when he finished he came over and gave his idol a big hug.
Blades himself was in charge of his classic “Pedro Navaja” at the end of the event.
“It is a night in which we celebrate the power of Rubén’s music to awaken the mind, heart and rhythm of Latin music lovers, uniting nationalities, generations and genres,” the executive producers of the event told the AP. Ayleen Figueras and academy president emeritus Gabriel Abaroa Jr.
After last year’s Person of the Year was not awarded due to the pandemic, the Panamanian musician, actor and activist received the honor for his continued commitment to the fight for social justice and for promoting positive and significant changes in the Latino communities and beyond through their music.
“Rubén Blades is a truly emblematic artist who has inspired several generations with the impressive and intelligent lyrics of his songs, and whose genius has promoted justice at all levels of society”, Abaroa Jr., then the academy’s president and CEO, said in June when the announcement was made. “As activism and movements for social justice have dominated our collective conversation over the past year, at this time there is no one more deserving of the Latin Academy Person of the Year honor.”
Blades was an iconic figure in New York’s 1970s salsa revolution, with classic songs including “The singer”, “Pedro Navaja” and “Plastic”. As an actor, he has worked in more than 50 film and television productions, in English and Spanish, including the series “Fear The Walking Dead”, in the role of Daniel Salazar, and films like “Once Upon a Time in Mexico“ (“Once upon a time in Mexico”), “Predator 2” (“Predator 2”) and “Hands of Stone” (“Stone hands”).
In addition to artistic success, he studied law at the University of Panama and Harvard and between 2004 and 2009 he served as Minister of Tourism of Panama.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
“I think the best achievement is that I never did anything that went against what I felt was the right thing to do,” he responded to the AP on Wednesday. “It is a very difficult thing to do, but I managed to achieve it and I am very happy about it.”
He recalled as an example the years he spent retired from music to study at Harvard and dedicate himself to politics with the idea of helping his country: “The fact that I could do that and be happy, and understand that the best thing you can do it is serving others and trying to help people in general, that makes me very, very happy ”.
The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year award is given to musicians of Ibero-American heritage not only for their artistic achievements in the Latin music industry, but also for their humanitarian efforts.
Previous honorees include Juanes (2019), Maná (2018), Alejandro Sanz (2017), Marc Anthony (2016), Roberto Carlos (2015), Joan Manuel Serrat (2014), Miguel Bosé (2013), Caetano Veloso (2012 ), Shakira (2011), Plácido Domingo (2010), Juan Gabriel (2009), Gloria Estefan (2008), Juan Luis Guerra (2007), Ricky Martin (2006), José José (2005), Carlos Santana (2004), Gilberto Gil (2003), Vicente Fernández (2002), Julio Iglesias (2001) and Emilio Estefan (2000).
Proceeds from the Person of the Year gala go to charities for the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation.