2013 Latin Recording Academy Special Awards

  • 2013 Special Awards
  • Oscar D'León
  • Juan Formell
  • Roberto Menescal
  • Totó La Momposina
  • Palito Ortega
  • Eddie Palmieri
  • Miguel Ríos
  • Mario Kreutzberger, "Don Francisco"
  • Pedro Ramírez Velázquez
September 03, 2013 -- 6:00 am PDT

Oscar D'León, Juan Formell, Roberto Menescal, Totó La Momposina, Palito Ortega, Eddie Palmieri, and Miguel Ríos will be honored with The Latin Recording Academy®'s Lifetime Achievement Award, and Mario Kreutzberger aka "Don Francisco" and Pedro Ramírez Velázquez are the recipients of the prestigious Trustees Award, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. These honorees will be acknowledged at a special invitation-only ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas as part of the weeklong 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards® celebration.

"It is with great pride that we announce this year's honorees, who not only epitomize the essence of true masters of their craft and genre, but represent the global musical spectrum that encompasses the Latin community at large," said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. "We continue to be humbled by their contributions to the musical legacy of the Latin world, and celebrate and honor their accomplishments and the talent that they have graciously shared with us over the decades, which will continue to endure for generations to come."

Lifetime Achievement Awards: This Special Award is presented by vote of The Latin Recording Academy's Board of Trustees to performers who have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording during their careers.

Born with rhythm in his blood, renowned Venezuelan singer and musician Oscar D'León is known as "El León de la Salsa" ("The Lion of Salsa"). At a young age, D'León expressed a love for music by vocally improvising harmonies and using surface tops to mimic percussion rhythms. Self-taught as a bass player, he gained notoriety for his ability to entertain by dancing, singing and playing instruments as he performed. In 1972, he formed the group Dimensión Latina with whom he released one of his most famous hits, "Llorarás." In 1976, he left the group to form two more orchestras, La Salsa Mayor and La Crítica. In the '80s, D'León's solo career rose to international acclaim as he began touring Europe and became an overnight phenomenon. In his 30-year career, he has performed in Japan, Australia, Cuba, Turkey, Canada and Latin America. Today, he continues to record music and is a great philanthropist.

Renowned Cuban musician, bassist, composer, and arranger Juan Formell is the true definition of a musical innovator. His studies began under the tutelage of his father, musician and composer Francisco Formell. As his talent grew, he began working with some of the most famous artists in Havana leading to his highly successful compositions with the Carlos Faxas Orchestra, "Ya Lo Se," "De Mis Recuerdos" and "Lo Material." Formell's work with the Elio Reve's Orchestra heralded his ingenuity as a pioneer in the sound of popular music. He introduced electronic instrumentation into the field of Cuban music, changing its form, style and structure and resulting in the creation of the "La Nueva Trova Cubana" ("the new Cuban ballad"). In 1969, he created Los Van Van – one of the most important and influential bands in the history of Cuban pop music – and later earned a GRAMMY® Award in 1999 for Best Salsa Performance. He has authored more than 250 musical works, composed for theater, television, and films, and toured the globe while continuing to experiment and create new rhythms and sounds.

With a career that spans more than 50 years as a composer, producer, guitarist, and vocalist, Roberto Menescal is revered as one of the founders of bossa nova. Born in Brazil and beginning his professional career at age 20, his creative and brilliant songwriting ability, coupled with his rhythmic use of the guitar, has led him to create some of the country's most beloved and classic songs, such as "O Barquinho," "Você," "Nós E O Mar," "Bye, Bye Brasil," and "Rio," among others. Aside from forming the basis for the bossa nova sound, Menescal has performed in a variety of Latin music mediums, including Brazilian pop, Música Popular Brasileira and Samba. He has composed two soundtracks for film and four biographical books have been written about his life's work and contributions. He continues to perform internationally, record music and participate in workshop programs throughout the Brazil.

Hailing from Colombia, singer and performer Totó La Momposina is a national treasure. Her music is inspired by a rich cultural mix of African, Native Indian, and Spanish history that embraces her native land and is represented in the Latin American rhythms she presents. Touring and performing at a young age in coastal villages, her deep love for her roots and musical traditions developed into her signature style. While studying music history, choreography and rhythm at Paris' Sorbonne University, she also began touring in Europe, presenting for the first time the indigenous music of her homeland to the outside world. Tours in Latin America and the Caribbean would follow along with a move to Cuba, where she studied the bolero. She continues to tour internationally and share the colorful history, native melodies and rhythmic forms of her beloved Colombia.

Argentine singer, actor, producer and former politician Palito Ortega is an integral part of the great rock and roll pantheon of artists whose innovations were credited with the nueva ola (new wave) of music during the 1960s. Idolizing the legendary Elvis Presley, he began performing with different bands which eventually led to his solo career. Collaborating with songwriter Dino Ramos, he quickly achieved success with such hits as "Sabor A Nada," "Lo Mismo Que Usted" and "Vestida De Novia." His popularity earned him a starring role in the television ensemble "El Club Del Clan" and soon after a career in film. Within years of launching his career, he had recorded 27 albums, starred in 26 films and emerged as the definitive teen idol. After several decades of success in entertainment, he set his sights on politics, becoming the governor of the Tucumán Province in Argentina in1991. He continues to perform and remains active in recording music and collaborating with various artists.

Eight-time GRAMMY® and Latin GRAMMY-winning pianist, bandleader and musician Eddie Palmieri has recorded nearly 40 albums and has a career that spans more than five decades. A first generation "Nuyorican," he is best known for combining jazz piano and instrumental solos with Latin rhythms. Inspired by his older brother, renowned pianist Charlie Palmieri, he formed the band Conjunto La Perfecta in 1961, led by singer Ismael Quintana, and would go on to create an influential style and unique sound. In 1975, he won his first GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Recording for The Sun Of Latin Music, which was the first time the awards recognized the Latin music genre. Palmieri has toured the world many times over and is the recipient of numerous awards, honors and accolades.

Recognized as one of the pioneers of rock en español, Spanish born singer, composer, director, producer, and actor Miguel Ríos is a tour de force. His innumerable sold-out concerts and tours have resonated with rock music fans of all ages for more than 50 years. In 1970, he released one of his master works at the height of the symphonic rock movement, "Himno de La Alegría" ("Hymn of Joy"), which featured an extract of Beethoven's ninth symphony. The recording has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide and hit the No. 14 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1982, he released a double-live album of his Rock & Rios concert, selling more than 450,000 copies in less than one year. The recording is regarded by music critics as one of the most important works of modern Spanish rock. He has participated in numerous benefit concerts and received countless awards, distinctions and commendations throughout the Spanish peninsula.

Trustees Award: This Special Award is presented by vote of The Latin Recording Academy's Board of Trustees to individuals who have made significant contributions, other than performance, to the field of recording during their careers.

Beloved television personality Mario Kreutzberger aka"Don Francisco" has been a staple of entertainment in Latin homes across the United States, Chile and Latin America for more than 50 years. Creating and hosting "Sábado Gigante" ("Giant Saturday") since 1962, the show has gone on to make television history and has served as a platform for developing and established artists to showcase their music to a large Spanish-speaking demographic. Guinness World Records declared "Sábado Gigante" the longest running television variety show in the Americas uninterruptedly presented by its star host and in 2012, the program celebrated its 50-year anniversary. Along with the variety show, he hosted the interview-based "Don Francisco Presenta" and the fundraising based "Teletón." Additionally, Don Francisco is a respected jingle writer and has received numerous awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an honorary Emmy® Award for being a "leader of Spanish-language television." In 2012, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

At an early age, Mexican-born musician, composer and musical director Pedro Ramírez Velázquez was fascinated by the trumpet. After studying formally at the Escuela Libre de Música in Mexico City, he soon joined his father's musical troupe as a second trumpeter, unprecedented for mariachi bands in the late '40s. In 1954, at age 14, he was invited to join Pepe Villa's Mariachi México, a group that received critical acclaim for featuring two-trumpet orchestrations. Velázquez remained with the troupe through what critics consider the golden age of mariachi music and upon his departure in the '70s, he began arranging, directing and producing for some of the most legendary acts in Latin music history. He has collaborated with Angélica Maria, Leo Dan, Roberto Carlos, and Beatriz Adriana among others, and has served as the exclusive musical director for both Vicente and Alejandro Fernández, which has garnered him three Latin GRAMMYs.

The 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards® will take place inside Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, and will air live in the United States on the Univision Network  from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central). For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @LatinGRAMMYs on Twitter, like "Latin GRAMMYs" on Facebook , and join the Latin GRAMMYs' social communities on Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube.