The breadth and complexity of Spanish singer/songwriter Alejandro Sanz’s body of work was in full display last night (Nov. 15), as Sanz was feted by fellow singers in a three-hour tribute honoring him as the Latin Recording Person of the Year.
Sanz, sometimes singing along, sometimes visibly emotional, and flanked by his wife and eldest children, looked on as some of the most notable entertainers stepped on stage to sing versions of his iconic songs.
The night’s show at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas began with Colombian pop singer Manuel Medrano and Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade. The pair opened with Sanz’ “No Es No Mismo.” Some of Latin music’s biggest names followed, including Juan Luis Guerra, David Bisbal, Niña Pastori, Mon Laferte, Alejandro Fernandez, Juanes, Jesse & Joy, Luis Fonsi, Camilla Cabello, Residente and even American pop singer Nick Jonas.
The highlights of the evening were perhaps the most unexpected. La Ferte, a relative newcomer, gave a soulful rendition of “Mi Soledad y Yo” that garnered the first standing ovation of the evening, while Best New Artist Rosalía, accompanied only by strings, performed an emotional version of “Cuando nadie me ve.”
And then there were rousing collaborations, including Juanes with Camila Cabello, singing excellent Spanish. “You deserve this night and you are always the biggest,” said Juanes after his tribute along with Cabello, who added, “I never imagined in my craziest dreams that I would be on stage singing to you and celebrating you. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for music.”
Perhaps the best of the evening was Nick Jonas and Brazilian singer Annita, performing “Looking For Paradise,” where they were joined mid-way by Residente.
Other notable moments included Bisbal performing a heartfelt rendition of “En Tu Vida Caminando” (In Your Life Walking), Jesse & Joy playing the ballad “Una Noche” and Luis Fonsi powering through “Amiga Mia,” accompanied by a live violin section. The set fully illustrated the arc of Sanz’ sweeping ballads, over a career that spans nearly three decades and multiple prizes, including a 2003 Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album for No Es Lo Mismo (It’s Not the Same).
Fernandez performed the ballad “Ella” (Her), and after the performance, recalled being in Spain and hanging with Sanz, drinking wine and enjoying their friendship through the years.
Lafourcade, who opened the night’s musical tribute, stopped a minute into “No Es Lo Mismo” and asked the orchestra to begin again, admitting that she had to start over because she was nervous. Sanz walked up to the songstress and hugged her before she restarted.
At the end of the night’s tributes, Sanz took the stage for a speech, where he spoke of the power of dreams. “I want to thank the public and our family,” Sanz said. “To my two oldest children and my woman, who are here today, you are my dreams come true. You are my particular miracles, you are my debt to the world and my contribution to our species. I hope kids that you are dreamers and brave, always brave. Do not forget that we are what we dream.”
With that, the singer left the stage, before returning a few moments later to sing one of his most popular songs, “Corazón Partido.”
Sanz will perform tonight at the Latin Grammys, airing on Univision.