Maluma, Daddy Yankee, Sony ATV, BMG Golden Big Winners at 2019 ASCAP Latin Awards
On a night memorable for its outstanding live performances, ASCAP honored Daddy Yankee as its songwriter/artist of the year and Maluma as the Latin songwriter of the year during its 27th annual ASCAP Latin Music Awards on Tuesday night (March 5), held at the San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico.
“I’m standing here with a lot of respect for artists like Draco Rosa and Daddy Yankee,” said Maluma, nodding to his more senior fellow ASCAP songwriters. “I know I’m young. But I’ve worked hard. I’m a hardworking dreamer who wants to show new talent that it’s possible (si se puede),” he added, before performing a fiery medley of hits set to salsa arrangements.
That Maluma could deliver salsa so convincingly in a fully acoustic setting underscored the tone of an evening marked by outstanding performances and emotional moments. It kicked off with a performance by Cuban singer/songwriter Yotuel (lead singer of Orishas), accompanied by producer/songwriter/guitarist Andres Castro, who performed a wildly different version of the Ricky Martin hit “Fiebre” (which they co-wrote) along with Yotuel’s wife, powerhouse Spanish singer/songwriter Beatriz Luengo.
“Songwriters, they’re the magic behind the publishers,” said Sony/ATV Discos Music president Jorge Mejia, accepting Sony/ATV’s Publisher of the year award for the 16th time in the past 17 years. “And today, when Latin music is shattering all imaginable barriers, this is a blessing that transcends frontiers, music styles, and cultures.” BMG Gold Songs won Independent Publisher of the year.
The importance of the awards, which returned to Puerto Rico in a gesture of support for the island post-Hurricane Maria, wasn’t lost on the island’s native sons. DJ Playero, the maverick DJ who early on gave Daddy Yankee his first big break, spoke of a young artist who was also a baseball player when he first came to his studio in the Villa Kennedy projects.
“While others rest, Yankee never stops working,” he said. “He’s the top of the old, and the best of the new,” he added, while handing Yankee his award for songwriter/artist of the year on the strength of hits including “Dura” and “Zum Zum.”
“In my life the most emotional award I’ve received is this one from my musical godfather,” said Yankee. “We started in the projects with a turntable and big dreams. We knew we had something; we just didn’t know how far it would go. We created culture for the world. To all the kids in the barrio you can be an agent of change. You can transform the country.”
In addition to its winning writers and publishers, ASCAP also honored two Puerto Rican icons with special awards. Rosa, the iconic rocker who also co-wrote hits for Martin, picked up The ASCAP Vanguard Award for his dynamic career and helping to shape the future of music. Milly Quezada, the “Queen of Merengue,” was the recipient of the ASCAP Latin Heritage Award.
Rosa received his award from award-winning hitmaker Desmond Child, who co-wrote “Living La Vida Loca” with Rosa, and who couldn't hold back the tears when he recounted Rosa’s fight for life after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
“He [Rosa] has transformed his life into a work of art. Let us drink from the cup of life,” Child said, before calling Rosa up to the stage.
“The current system is stacked against songwriters,” said Rosa, accepting his award. “We need PROs more than ever. I’m an optimist and I say thank God I found what I was looking for and I found ASCAP. My realm has never been about the money but about perfecting the craft of making music. Music is meant to be felt and not understood,” he punctuated, before picking up a guitar and singing his new single.
The evening ended on a high note with a lively performance by Quezada and her merengue band.