An Artist For Any Year: Honoring Caetano Veloso, 2012 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year
The career of Brazilian singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso is marked by era-defining songs. His music has been part of the soundtrack of the lives of several generations of Latin music fans. Summing it all up in a one-hour show seems an insurmountable challenge.
But helped by a star studded cast including Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Juan Luis Guerra, Nelly Furtado and Enrique Bunbury, the Latin Recording Academy celebrated Veloso as its 2012 Person of the Year with a rich presentation that showcased and honored many of his remarkable achievements.
Hosted by singer Julieta Venegas, a five-time Latin GRAMMY winner, and Gabriel Abaroa, President and CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, and staged at the vast Arena Garden at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the show combined video, photo collages and live performances.
It opened with a biographical video that retraced Veloso’s story from his beginnings (“I never intended to be a musician” he says early on) through the turbulent ‘60s in Brazil, Tropicalia, exile and his many reinventions to today, still a challenging songwriter, thinker and performer.
Appropriately, considering the honoree, the participating artists were not content with playing the hits but instead put their own stamp on Veloso’s music.
Latin GRAMMY and GRAMMY winner Nelly Furtado, a Canadian of Portuguese descent, tackled one of Veloso’s classics “Leaozinho,” a song he first recorded in his album Bicho in 1977, but giving it a brisk ska beat. Spanish rocker Enrique Bunbury and Spanish hip hop singer La Mala Rodriguez put an original spin to the classic “Os Argonautas, an epoch making track in Veloso’s so-called Álbum Branco (White Album) which was released in Brazil in 1969. They sang the first half as an old time chanson, before La Mala exploded it with a burst of rap. Also interesting was hearing Spanish singer La Mari (of Chambao) naturally giving “Onde O Rio e Mais Baiano” a flamenco flavor.
Sanz is one of those artists who by the force of their personality can turn almost any song into a personal statement, easily, almost naturally, perhaps the best tribute from artist to artist.