Wednesday’s Latin Grammy Person of the Year celebration honored the great Marco Antonio Solís, and it was one for the books. A star-studded night replete with elegance, back-to-back surprise performances (including the POTY himself), and emotive speeches made the evening of Nov. 17 a night to remember.
At the core of it was Marco Antonio Solís (and his transcendental body of work), there to affirm that his musical power is a force to be reckoned with; many of Solís’ generation- and genre-spanning musical peers in attendance at Mandalay Bay’s Islander Ballroom echoed that sentiment.
With 11 Hot Latin Songs No. 1 hits, there were plenty of MAS bangers to chose from, so the excitement was cranked up all the way. Laura Pausini said his name is synonymous with “México, elegance, and values”; Christian Nodal delivered an impassioned speech about how a man can shine so bright on and off stage; Edén Muñoz highlighted how the Mexican multi-hyphenate artist continues to be a role model for newer generations like himself; and Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Myriam Hernández said, “Only a soul like yours, with that sensibility and honesty, is capable of writing what you write.”
Aside from the numerous sentimental words his colleagues shared on stage, they also performed MAS’ hits. Argentine piano balladeer Fito Páez played “De Mil Amores” accompanied by a cello; Bronco amped up the vibe with a riveting grupera take of “Tu Me Vuelves Loco”; and Mexican emotional pop acts Camila and Sin Bandera teamed up to sing “Dónde Estará Mi Primavera” with gut-wrenching delivery.
Another impactful duet was with Carla Morrison and Ana Torroja of Mecano fame who beautifully sang “Como Tu Mujer,” a song originally sung by the late Rocio Dúrcal, and written by Solís. Bachata king Romeo Santos swooned the crowd with “Invéntame,” and the honoree’s daughter, Marla Solís, also made an endearing appearance on stage to sing for her legendary father.
The night took place one day before the 23rd annual Latin Grammys. Here are five of the most memorable moments that took place at the Person of the Year gala.
The Person of the Year performs his hits at his own gala. Since the first Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year in 2000, this is the first time that the celebrated person of the year performed at their own event, and Marco Antonio Solís had jaws dropped. The iconic singer with the golden voice blessed fans, peers and anyone else in attendance with three Latin smashes: “¿A Dónde Vamos a Parar?”; the ranchera classic “La Venia Bendita” backed by a mariachi troupe; and the timeless banger of “Tu Cárcel” by Los Bukis.
“When we started this adventure, I told Marco, ‘Let us surprise you,’ and he replied, ‘Let me also surprise them.’ Well, here is your surprise!” said the Latin Recording Academy CEO Manuel Abud, in front of a truly surprised crowed followed by a standing ovation. After nearly 20 acts took the stage to serenade the man of the hour with his own songs, Solís stole the show with a grand finale by performing one of the greatest Latin pop songs of all time, “Si No Te Hubieras Ido.”
Laura Pausini delivered a powerful performance and heartfelt speech. After Solís made his grand entrance on stage, the Italian singer Laura Pausini followed up with a powerful and heart-rending version of “Sigue Sin Mi.” Wearing a beautiful lace blouse and a black suit, this year’s Latin Grammy co-host motivated fans further, swaying them evocatively with each note. At the end of her performance, she gave one of the most beautiful speeches of the night, “I see that when they say the name Marco Antonio Solís, it is synonymous with Mexico,” said the artist. “What I admire so much about you, Marco, besides being the singer-songwriter that you are, is that you have a great responsibility through your name and your music, when you speak outside of Mexico, of your country, it is [also] synonymous with elegance, education, and values — [attributes] that not always the famous person can give to his country or outside of his country. I applaud you immensely.”
Christian Nodal brings his mariacheño swagger to the stage and honors his idol. Arriving to the stage rocking a sophisticated black norteño get-up and red silk shirt, Nodal instantly swooned the crowd with “Mi Eterno Amor Secreto.” Although in his early twenties, Nodal sang the song like he’s lived through lifetimes of love and loss, and the admiration he has for Solís truly resonated across the ballroom. At the end of his set, the Sonora singer said, “Marco Antonio Solís, it is an honor, pride, a dream come true to be able to sing one of my favorite songs in the world in front of one of the greatest idols. Three years ago in Guadalajara, I had the pleasure of watching you from the audience […] and meeting you backstage, and I asked myself, ‘How is it that you can shine so much on and off stage?’ […] ‘How can a great artist move so many masses and impact generations?’ I admire you so much, thank you so much for existing, for bringing us so much of your music, your lyrics, there is so much to learn from you.”
Gente de Zona and Taboo enliven the moment with a cumbia dance-off. The Cubatón duo Gente de Zona and Chicano artist Taboo joined forces to perform the thrilling cumbia song of “Más Que Tu Amigo,” and oh boy, did they deliver. As soon as the instantly recognizable horn melody of the hit began to play, audiences lit up. By the time Alexander Delgado got to the verse to sing “Me gustas tanto me elnoqueces” (I really like you it drives me wild), his beaming pipes were almost on par with Solís’, and the entire audience got up on their feet for a cumbia dance-off. Bravo!
MAS receives his POTY award and reminisces on his 40-plus-year career.
Right after Marco Antonio Solís received his award for Person of the Year, handed by Abud and Emilio Estefan, everyone in attendance got on their feet to pay their respects to a truly astounding and influential career. But the impassioned acceptance speech that Solís delivered was just spine-chilling.
Translated from Spanish, he said: “It’s been a long time since I’ve been as excited as I was tonight for so much love. So many familiar faces to greet, so many people I have met throughout my career, íjole. I feel very honored with the [Latin Recording] Academy for this recognition. I don’t even know how I got here, that’s the truth. The only thing I know is that life has always let me be guided by my intuition — That little voice was the spark that ignited everything, my intuition.
“Imagine, a 12-year-old boy leaving his hometown, Ario de Rosales, Michoacán, back in Mexico. A child separated from his parents, his six siblings, his friends — a little scared but with his heart full of illusions, carrying no more than a suitcase and his guitar, and with no other company than his cousin, Joel Solís, heading to Mexico City, without any promise of shelter but our dreams. We celebrate a career crowned successfully by the grace of God, and all the followers who have identified with my songs. I am eternally grateful.”