Top 10 Greatest Latin Grammys Performances of All Time
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Jacob Pitts
These Latin Grammy performances lit up the stage. For this list, we'll be looking at the best live showings throughout the history of the Latin Grammy Awards. Our countdown includes Residente, Rosalia, Shakira, and more!
Top 10 Latin Grammys Performances of All Time
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Top 10 Latin Grammys Performances of All Time.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the best live showings throughout the history of the Latin Grammy Awards.
Which of these performances was your favorite, and which artists would you like to see collab on the Latin Grammy stage in the future? Let us know in the comments!
"18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2017)
This artist had a lot to prove with his performance. After 22-time Latin Grammy-winning group Calle 13 went on hiatus in 2015, frontman Residente began a solo career. He opened the 2017 show with the Puerto Rican pride anthem "Hijos del Cañaveral," donning a shirt with the island’s flag and sharing the stage with a slew of Puerto Rican artists. The uplifting song choice carried extra significance, as Hurricane Maria had recently struck the island and many still lacked electricity. Not only did Residente assert himself as a solo artist, but he paid homage to his homeland and gave them hope during a tough time.
#9: Alejandro Sanz
“18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2017)
Residente wasn’t the only artist to inspire at the show’s 18th ceremony. Despite winning the title of Person of the Year, Alejandro Sanz’s performance went further than celebrating his career with a victory lap. As part of his medley of hits, the Spanish flamenco legend performed “Corazón Partío,” unveiling a choir of DREAMers onstage — undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors. Then-President Trump had made much noise about repealing DACA, the policy protecting them, threatening DREAMers with deportation from the country they’ve lived in most of their lives. Sanz’ decision to highlight this group raised awareness of an important issue and put faces to those affected, urging viewers to pay attention.
#8: J Balvin, Pharrell Williams, Bia, & Sky
“17th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2016)
Our next performance gives a whole new meaning to the term “dream team.” In 2016, J Balvin, Pharrell Williams, Bia, and Sky all shared the Latin Grammy stage for a performance of their hit song “Safari.” The posse more than did justice to the track live, beautifully sharing the stage and making the most of their animal kingdom backdrop. The collab with Pharrell teased J Balvin’s crossover appeal, foreshadowing his future work with artists like Beyoncé and Cardi B. Likewise, producer Sky has since worked with Rosalía, while Bia went on to have her breakout hit with Nicki Minaj. Nearly everyone included in this performance is much bigger now — looking back, it’s impressive that so many Latin music stars were briefly in one place.
“19th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2018)
The “Motomami” singer’s place in Latin music has been contested, but there’s still no doubt that she’s one of the most visible Spanish-language artists today. Although Rosalía lost in the Latin Grammy Awards’ Best New Artist category in 2017, she certainly won the following year in terms of performances. Singing her breakout hit “Malamente,” she showed that she was much more than the it-girl of the moment. Everything from her vocals to her choreography to her stage presence was on point. With Rosalía wearing a fluffy white outfit in a sea of red, the costume and set design added an intriguing heaven-and-hell theme to the song. As she continues to push herself further creatively, it’ll be exciting to see what she does next.
#6: Pitbull & Carlos Santana
“15th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2014)
Can you name a more unlikely duo? Despite being two of the biggest Latin American artists ever, it was still a bit of a shock to see Pitbull and Carlos Santana link up for a track on the latter’s band’s “Corazón” album. It was even more of a shock to see them bring their collaboration to the stage during the 15th Latin Grammy Awards. But it ended up being a pleasant surprise. The smooth guitarist and Mr. 305 had surprisingly strong bromance energy. They put their updated spin on the Tito Puente classic “Oye Cómo Va,” which Santana also covered in the early 1970s. Their showing was dynamic and completely over-the-top in the absolute best way possible.
“1st Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2000)
It goes without saying that the inaugural Latin Grammy Awards was a night of firsts. The first primetime network TV broadcast that was bilingual, the first time honoring Latin artists on such a large scale in the U.S., and more. Shakira knew just what to do. Performing her then-biggest hit, “Ojos Así,” she showed immense promise as an entertainer long before most Americans knew the honesty of her hips. She was a total natural at dancing and drumming to the song’s fiery beat. Shakira has periodically returned to the Latin Grammy stage, most notably in 2006 with an ab-tastic performance of “La Tortura”. Whenever, wherever she next graces the ceremony, it’s sure to be a pop culture moment.
#4: Celia Cruz
“3rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2002)
The Latin Recording Academy has always understood that the real draw of the program is the fact that it honors long-living Latin legends. In the ceremony’s third year, Celia Cruz was the lady of the hour amid her late-career comeback. She performed her salsa hit “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” which translates to “The Black Woman’s Got Style,” and certainly delivered. Wearing a royal purple gown and elaborate feather headdress, Cruz kept up with the younger artists on stage despite being in her 70s and made it look easy. Although she would tragically die the following year, the Cuban-American Queen of Salsa kept her passion for performing until the very end.
#3: Ricky Martin, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, & More
“1st Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2000)
Award shows are meant to be celebratory, but they still incite much debate: like who should or shouldn’t have won. But one thing people can all agree on is that the first Latin Grammys happened way too late. So many legends didn’t live to see the inaugural ceremony, so it’s fitting that it opened with a tribute to one of the greats. Ricky Martin, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, and many more honored the spirit of Tito Puente, the mambo and Latin jazz extraordinaire who died earlier in 2000. Cruz was the clear standout of the medley, as she and Puente were frequent longtime collaborators. The performance was a vibrant celebration of life, and it certainly would have made Puente proud.
#2: Marc Anthony & Jennifer Lopez
“17th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2016)
Before fulfilling the Bennifer prophecy, J. Lo had already revisited one of her past relationships – but in a different way. With ex Marc Anthony being honored as the Person of the Year at the Latin Grammys’ 2016 ceremony, Jenny from the Block appeared for a surprise duet. The former couple displayed plenty of chemistry while covering the ‘80s song “Olvídame y Pega La Vuelta”. But don’t get it twisted, it’s still very much a breakup anthem. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop them from kissing on the lips when she presented him with the award. Not only did the pair create a showstopping musical moment, but they showed that exes could be friendly.
#1: Juan Gabriel
“10th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” (2009)
For the Latin Grammys’ landmark tenth year, it was go big or go home. And with El Divo de Juárez as Person of the Year, there was no way the latter was happening. It’s common practice for People of the Year to get their own medley, but Juan Gabriel’s was over half an hour long, something you rarely see at award ceremonies. He easily justified the whopping runtime, pulling from his decades of hits and maintaining his famously flamboyant energy throughout the set. It was clearly a crowd favorite too! Given that people are still gushing about Gabriel’s performance all these years later, the first decade of Latin Grammy Awards couldn’t have had a better conclusion.