A socially charged hip-hop album that slams the Catholic Church and touts the joys of dancing like the poor has become the Cinderella story of the Latin Grammy Awards, placing Puerto Rican rap group Calle 13 in the spotlight and lending a political overtone to Latin music's biggest night.
Calle 13 is up for a record 10 Latin Grammy nominations during the 12th annual awards show in Las Vegas Thursday night. The group is also scheduled to perform a song from its anti-establishment album "Entren Los Que Quieran" during the three-hour show airing on Univision.
The awards represent the diversity of Latin American music, with performers from Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, Spain and other nations coming together to celebrate pop, rock, salsa, rap, country and other genres.
Look no further than the line-up of performers for a taste of the Latin Grammy Awards' far reach. Crossover stars Shakira, Pitbull and Marc Anthony are among the dozens of international pop stars scheduled to take the stage, along with Mexican rocker Alejandra Guzman, former Disney princess Demi Lovato, Puerto Rican rappers Wilsen and Yandel, R&B crooner Usher and Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas. Award presenters include Erik Estrada, Kermit the Frog, Zoe Saldana and Sofia Vergara.
These are the names the drive ratings and record sales, but Calle 13 could easily determine the show's narrative. The group's anthem for Latinos, "LatinoAmerica" also got top honors, with nominations for both record and song of the year. Another hit, "Calma Pueblo" was nominated for best alternative song. The lyrics insist that the largest mafia in the world resides at the Vatican.
Other multiple nominees included Shakira, who received three nominations, including best album for "Sale el Sol;" Venezuelan singer Franco De Vita was up for five awards, including best album for "En Primera Fila;" and Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin, who had three nominations.
Enrique Iglesias was also nominated for best album for "Euphoria." Pitbull, Don Omar, Los Tigres Del Norte and Wisin and Yandel were among the acts that got two nominations each. Chilean actor Cristian de la Fuente and Mexican singer Lucero are scheduled to co-host the show.
While many performers tend to downplay the awards and herald the night as an opportunity to celebrate music, De Vita said he was there to win.
"That's what I most desire," he told The Associated Press.
Taboo, who performed with the Black Eyed Peas at the Latin Grammys in 2003, was slated to take the stage with Puerto Rican newcomer Sie7e Thursday night. Taboo, who is Mexican-American, said he wants to become more active in the Latin music world.
"It's only right that I give back to my community," he said.