LAS VEGAS (AP) - A socially charged hip-hop album that slams the Catholic Church and touts 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 picked up four awards during the 12th annual Latin Grammy Awards pre-telecast and was nominated for six more during the traditional show to be held Thursday night in Las Vegas. The group was also scheduled to perform a song from its anti-establishment album "Entren Los Que Quieran" during the three-hour ceremony airing on Univision.
"This brings oxygen to our career, now that they never play us on the radio," said Rene Perez Joglar, who goes by the stage name Residente, after accepting an award Thursday.
The Latin Grammy 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 show's far reach. Crossover stars Shakira, Pitbull and Marc Anthony were 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 Wisin 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 won each award it was nominated for during the pre-telecast ceremony Thursday afternoon. "Calma Pueblo" took best alternative song, with its lyrics that call the Vatican the largest mafia in the world. The group also won producer of the year, best short-form music video and best tropical song for its ode to behaving badly, "Vamo' A Portarnos Mal." Calle 13's anthem for Latinos, "Latinoamerica," was also nominated for the night's top honors, record and song of the year.
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 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.
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.
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 on Wednesday.
De Vita got his wish, picking up the award for best long form music video for "En Primera Fila" during the pre-show.
Cristina Silva can be reached at http://twitter.com/cristymsilva.