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Juanes Shines At Latin Grammys

Juanes, whose album "Un Dia Normal (A Normal Day)" has enjoyed a marathon stay on the charts, was showered with five Latin Grammy awards on Wednesday, including trophies for record and album of the year.

"I never thought that this was going to happen to me," said the Colombian singer-songwriter as he picked up one of his awards. "Three years ago I was lost completely in Los Angeles.

Juanes, who had already won four Latin Grammys prior to Wednesday's ceremony, won all of the awards he was nominated for, including song and record of the year for "Es Por Ti," and best rock solo album.

"Un Dia Normal" was released in May 2002 and has spent 65 weeks on Billboard Latin charts, a record, and yielded three successful singles.

Juanes, who was wearing a black T-shirt that read, "Se Habla Espanol," said he hoped his win would help people look at his homeland in a new light.

"I know a lot of times, people have a bad image of my country," he said. "That's why it's so important for me to be here, to represent the other side of Colombia."

After the ceremony, backstage, he said: "This is the most impressive day in my life."

He said he called his pregnant wife at home and she was thrilled to hear the news.

"She told me she was crying at home that she was about to give birth," he said jokingly.

While Juanes was the evening's big winner, the show's most rousing moment came at the start of the show. Celia Cruz, who just a year ago kicked off the Latin Grammys with an electrifying performance, was given a posthumous tribute, with a rousing medley of her some of her biggest hits.

"Azucar!" - Cruz's trademark rallying cry - was the final shout of the tribute, performed by Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, India and others. The Queen of Salsa, who won an award at the Latin Grammys last year, died of a brain tumor in July.

Cruz's husband, trumpeter Pedro Knight, was watching from the audience.

"I'm speechless," he told reporters before the show.

George Lopez was the evening's host; the comedian made jokes about Latino culture and the city of Miami, where the event was held, throughout the evening, though most of them fell flat.

"Tonight, we should make Dan Marino an honorary Latino," he said, while wearing a jersey of the former Miami Dolphins quarterback. "So Dan, you'll probably get pulled over tonight."

The ceremony included energetic performances from Thalia and Bacilos, but also incorporated non-Latin artists; Juanes performed with the hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas, while Brazilian singer Alexandre Pires sang with "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson.

The fusion of American and Latin American pop cultures also included presenters such as singer Natalie Cole, actors Jessia Alba and Adam Rodriguez, and even tennis champion Venus Williams, who towered over Latin Grammy nominee Natalia Lafourcade while presenting an award.

A pregnant Olga Tanon screamed onstage when she won best pop vocal album by a female for "Sobrevivir." It was her second Latin Grammy.

"My English is very bad, for this reason I have to talk in Spanish," she said apologetically before giving her acceptance speech in Spanish.

Backstage, Tanon said: "I swear I was surprised. Anything could have happened. The competition was very strong but I always have faith. I'm super-happy."

Other winners included Spanish singer David Bisbal, who burst on the scene with his album "Corazon Latino" after winning the Spanish equivalent of the television show "American Idol."

"Thanks to all the fans in so many countries who supported me. Thanks to my family and friends. Ole!" said Bisbal.

Claiming two awards was composer-arranger Paquito D'Rivera, for best classical and best Latin jazz albums.

Producer-songwriter Sergio George, who led all nominees with six, won a Latin Grammy for teaming with Bacilos singer-songwriter Jorge Villamizar to write the Miami-based group's catchy cumbia-rock single "Mi Primer Millon."

Bebu Silvetti, the early disco pioneer who worked in various genres, was honored posthumously as producer of the year. Silvetti, 59, died in July of complications from pneumonia.

The Brazilian collective Tribalistas, who closed the awards show, won for best contemporary Brazilian pop album. They thanked the audience in English, Portuguese and Spanish, adding to the multicultural feel of the awards.

"Thank you very much. Obrigado. Muchas gracias," said the trio of Marisa Monte, Carlinhos Brown and Arnaldo Antunes.

Although they didn't obtain visas to attend the show, the Cuban acts Orishas and Ibrahim Ferrer were honored in the pre-ceremony. Orishas, socially conscious rappers, won for best hip-hop album, and Ferrer, best known as a member of Buena Vista Social Club, won for best traditional tropical album.

Cuba complained Wednesday that Cuban musicians who were nominated were prevented from attending the awards show in part because of pressure from Miami-based exiles.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher had another explanation. He said Wednesday that none of the 12 Cuban acts nominated would be able to attend the ceremony in Miami because their visa applications arrived too late to be processed.

A similar situation arose last year when none of 22 nominated musicians received U.S. visas in time to attend the Latin Grammys.