- Associated Press - Thursday, November 10, 2011

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Puerto Rican hip-hop duo Calle 13 opened the Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday with an emotional rendition of their Hispanic anthem “Latinoamerica,”

Frontman Rene Perez Joglar dedicated the song to Latin Americans everywhere during Latin music’s biggest night.

“May this transport you to your roots, your streets… and may you feel it here in your chest,” he said before the rousing performance at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

The socially charged rap group picked up four awards before the show began and was nominated for a record 10 awards in all for its anti-establishment album “Entren Los Que Quieran,” lending a political overtone to the annual awards show. The album slams the White House and the Vatican.

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 during the three-hour ceremony airing on Univision 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 were quicly shaping the show’s narrative.

The group won every award for which it had been nominated at the pre-telecast awards ceremony Thursday: “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.”

Once the show opened, Calle 13’s “Baile de los Pobres” took the prize for best urban music album. “Latinoamerica,” was also nominated for the night’s top honors, record and song of the year.

“This brings oxygen to our career, now that they never play us on the radio,” said Joglar, who goes by the stage name Residente, after accepting an award Thursday.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican newcomer Sie7e was named best new artist. He was slated to perform his Spanglish love song “Tengo Tu Love” later in the show with Taboo.

“Another one for Puerto Rico,” he cried after accepting his gramophone.

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 co-hosted the show.

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.

Shakira, dressed in a sweeping pink gown topped with a sparkling corset, belted out the ballad “Antes de las Seis” on a fog-drenched stage decorated with flowering trees. Snow also fell in Las Vegas during the first performance of the night for Shakira, the Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year. She was expected to return to the stage midway through the show for a sexy performance of her reggaeton hit “Loca.”

It was a night for blending genres and talents.

Mana gave the first duet of the show, performing with New York bachata singer Prince Royce “Lluvia al Corazon” and “El Verdadero Amor Perdona” as the image of a beating heart adorned with thorns graced the stage. De Vita and Guzman also shared a performance, with De Vita playing the piano and Guzman pouring out her lyrics to their “Tan Solo Tu.”

The collaborations continued with Puerto Rican duo Wisin and Yandel, who were joined by Jamaican-American singer Sean Kingston. They spitted out three hits, “Estoy Enamorado,” “Fire Burning” and “Fever” as a half dozen women dressed in black and white twirled across the stage.

Kingston said backstage that he didn’t understand what was being said at the show, but called himself a “huge fan of reggeaton,” or Spanish hip hop.

“I’ve dated a few Latin ladies so I understand a little bit, poquito,” he said, adding that he likes Calle 13.

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Cristina Silva can be reached at http://twitter.com/cristymsilva.