There’s plenty of reasons why I L-O-V-E being Latina and the music created by my people is one huge reason.  Music is that one best friend that’s been there for every episode of my life, every lyric and tune has somehow always described exactly what I’ve been feeling, and Latin music itself has been the top contributor since day one. It’s no wonder that when the Grammys created a subdivision specifically for Latin artists (back in 2000), I would be found glued to the TV set every year, singing and dancing to every song from every genre.

And this year was no different.

I sat through all three and half hours, from the green (yes, green) carpet arrivals, to early performances leading to the actual 12th annual Latin Grammys.  But what I was super stoked about was one special honorary awardee hitting the stage.  However, before I start raving about her performance, let me tell you what took me by surprise at this year’s awards ceremony…

I noticed two reoccurring themes throughout last night’s event.

OneDiversity united!

I have to say as a Latina I enjoyed the mixture of Latin Americans and non-Latino artists sharing the stage.   If R&B singer Usher and Romeo, ex-member of bachata group Aventura, weren’t famous, they could easily be mistaken for brothers, brothers from another mother…country.  But despite their origin or their primary language, they wooed the audience with their latest single “Promise.” Usher even attempted to dance a little bachata, and I although they weren’t as great as his other smooth moves we’ve all been used to, his efforts were well recognized.  Together Romeo and Usher showed that maybe the language of love is Spanglish.

Bachata and R&B ever so present at the Latin Grammys, Romeo and Usher make it look easy.

Another unlikely couple that came out of left field was Demi Lovato and Pablo Alboran, a Spanish born singer.  Together they sang “Solamente Tu,” a song originally just sang by Alboran; however the two made it work. For those not familiar with Alboran (because I wasn’t) he sounds pleasantly similar to David Bisbal. As far as Lovato, some may have been watching and wondering, “She speaks Spanish?” Actually this young Disney starlet is indeed in her own way Latina, one third Mexican to be exact.  And while most of her fan base might only speak English, I’m sure her bilingual fans were just as impressed as I was.  Her vocals are just as amazing in Spanish as they are in English.

Then there was a definite unexpected guest— Sean Kingston.  He joined forces for the night with Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Wisin y Yandel.  (I didn’t even know they collaborated together.)

Even Kermit the frog paired up with Lucero, Latin Grammys host, to present norteño group Intocable! In his words, “Frogs also like norteño because we get to hop around.”  For those who didn’t get the reference, the famous green muppet was referring to el brinquito, the name for the dance move associated with norteño and banda, all regional Mexican genres.

TwoOld with the new and a little in between.

Ok maybe I should say classics revived because that’s what it was.  The Latin Grammys showcased several duos reviving some old favorites with some newcomers and some not-so-new faces.  My favorite act in this segment was Los Tigres del Norte with Paulina Rubio.  Although most of you will argue both parties have been around for decades, la chica dorada, as Rubio has been nicknamed since her adolescent years, certainly brings a fresh sound to a single that was first introduced back in 2006, “Golpes en el Corazón.”  The song has always been great with its originators, Los Tigres del Norte, however, thanks to the pop diva, it is now reintroduced to a whole new generation, hopefully making it unforgettable for more years to come.

Together Los Tigres Del Norte and Paulina Rubio, brought the best of the old and the new.

Similarly, legendary Spanish rock band, Maná, shared not only a stage with baby-face and bachata sensation, Prince Royce, but also a new song, “El Verdadero Amor Perdona,” off of their new album.  Who ever thought rock and bachata would sound so good?

And then there was tropical salsa master—Marc Anthony, bringing the crowd to their feet alongside dance-pop rapper Pitbull.  Another unlikely duo, but somehow everything just worked so well.

That’s the beauty of music, you mix and blend a little of this and a little of that and your result is one amazing song! It’s all one huge musical melting pot.

However, this is not the end. No, no, no, we are just getting to the best parts…

As a lot of you might now by now, the greatest winner last night was Calle 13, an urban group comprised of René Pérez Joglar, known as Residente, Eduardo José Cabra Martínez, el Visitante, and Ileana, PG-13.   Their opening performance was brilliant.  An elaborate orchestra followed along to Residente’s powerful words as he rapped about the panoramic views and ways of “Latinoamérica,” an anthem for Latinos to sing loud and proud.  The inspirational song won them two awards as Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  But the awards didn’t end there, as Calle 13 regularly visited the stage to accept yet another, and another and another award, in total—19!  And just like that they broke all-time Latin Grammy award records!

El Visitante (on left) and El Resident (on right) proudly present some of their awards from the12th Annual Latin Grammys.

Last by certainly not least, the main reason for my excitement last night was no one else but Shakira.  I’ve been a devote fan since her hair was pin straight and jet black! I remember watching her debut on Sabado Gigante (a popular Spanish TV show).  She wore black pants and played the guitar and the harmonica!  During those days she appeared to be a timid, innocent, young woman in interviews but on the contrary she sang lyrics that many of her peers ignored to present like abortion (“Lo Que No Se Quiere Se Mata”), and early on it set her apart from the rest.

Pies Descalzos was the name of her first single, still one of my favorites ‘til this day, and from time to time like her song she’ll dance barefoot on stage.

I followed her career as she transformed from red-head to a curly-haired blonde, from being a gypsy to she-wolf, from Spanish to English.  I’ve read her biographies, I’ve studied belly-dancing, and there’s even been a time I considered going blond! There’s never been a time when I enjoyed being Latina more than now and to some extent thanks to the hip-swaying- barefooted- singer- song-writer- philanthropist Shakira, Shakira! So when they announced her name last night and she hit the stage, you damn bet I was cheering my little heart out.  In a way, her accomplishment as Person of the Year, felt like my own silly accomplishment, I felt like doing the Waka-Waka!

Shakira dedicated her Person of the Year award to her colleagues, "Los que curan nuestras penas, nuestros males."

Today the Colombiana is the youngest recipient to receive such award from the Grammys.  Similarly she’s been the youngest ambassador of Unicef (by 26) and she’s recently also been appointed by President Barack Obama to his Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

So although I went off tangent for a bit, just remember it all started with music, somehow music is the answer to everything.

Now how will the Latin Grammys ever outdo this one?