Laura Pausini assures that she will never forget the night she lived in Seville on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, when she became the first artist born outside of Latin America or Spain to be honored as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, and only the third woman to receive the recognition (after Gloria Estefan and Shakira.)
The Italian superstar, who over three decades has made sure to release each of her albums simultaneously in Spanish, conquered the Spanish-speaking world early on with anthems like “La Soledad,” “Se Fue,” “Inolvidable” and “Amores Extraños,” creating an unbreakable bond not only with her fans, but with her colleagues in the Latin industry — many of whom consider her a close friend today.
On Wednesday, on the eve of the Latin Grammy Awards, about 30 of them took the stage to celebrate her by performing songs from her well-known repertoire: From Alejandro Sanz, India Martínez and Ana Mena, who opened the evening with a medley of “Nadie Ha Dicho” and “Volveré Junto A Ti,” to Beret, Danny Ocean and Ovy on the Drums (playing keyboard,) who closed the show with “Se Fue” before handing over the mic to Pausini herself.
Accompanied by an orchestra, stars such as Andrea Bocelli, Luis Fonsi, David Bisbal, Carlos Vives, Anitta and many more surprised the honoree at the traditional annual dinner and concert, considered one of the most important events of Latin Grammy Week. Words like “reference”, “pride” and “modesty” resonated among the participants, who highlighted Pausini not only as an exceptional singer, but as a generous, warm and simple human being.
“Our person of the year is a genuine, authentic artist with a deep sensitivity, who has turned her lyrics into songs of all time,” said Manuel Abud, CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, during the gala. “Winner of a Grammy and four Latin Grammys, Laura has always remained faithful to her romantic style and to a tireless search for musical excellence. And what you won’t find in any biography, but we all know, is that she is a great girl.”
Among the most notable performances of the night, Fonsi and David Bisbal sang “Inolvidable” with a vocal feat that earned them a standing ovation at the FIBES Seville Conference and Exhibition Centre. Mon Laferte and Christian Nodal offered a beautiful cover of “Como Si No Nos Hubiésemos Amado;” Andrea Bocelli sang an Italian version of Charles Aznavour’s “She”, “Uguale a Lei;” and Anitta and Tiago Iorc, along with trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, surprised everyone with a cover of the romantic ballad “En La Ausencia De Ti” in Portuguese.
Fonseca, Silvestre Dangond and Carlos Vives created one of the funniest moments with their version of “Quiero Decirte Que Te Amo” that started as a violins-led ballad and soon transformed into a vallenato, before culminating in a kind of fight between the three of them for the honoree’s love.
Pausini reacted to all this with laughter and tears, making hearts with her hands and even standing up to hug the singers on the edge of the stage. Evidently moved, she was accompanied by her parents, her sister, her husband Paolo Carta and her daughter Paola.
Also singing were Malú and Niña Pastori (“La Soledad”), Carin León and Vanesa Martín (“Amores Extraños”), Pablo López and Antonio Orozco (“Verdades A Medias”), Pablo Alborán and Elena Rose (“Yo Sí (Io sì )”), Reik and Bebe (“Entre Tú Y Mil Mares”), and Ángela Aguilar and Pepe Aguilar (“El Valor De Seguir Adelante”).
Fonsi, who called Pausini a “sister” and highlighted her spontaneity and great sense of humor, was the one to present her as the 2023 Person of the Year.
“Your passion, your ethics, your daily effort, your respect for the audience, for your colleagues, your respect for the stage, and your level of perfectionism — mi gente, when I say level of perfectionism it is a freaky, freaky, freaky level,” the Puerto Rican star said. “But that’s why you are what you are, that’s why you’re so great and you’ve come so far.”
Pausini, appealing to the sense of humor that her friend had just highlighted, sang “And I… I am the Person of the Year” to the melody of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” making everyone laugh.
“I will never forget this in my life. I will never live a night like this again,” she said upon receiving her trophy, thanking everyone involved in her career and in her life for accompanying through it all. She noted that, during the last 30 years, she has had a privileged life not only because she has “the great pleasure of being able to sing in Spanish,” but because from very early on she felt “adopted” by the Latin industry and community, “like a daughter, like a sister, like family.”
“You’ve raised me from a teenager until today, giving me the possibility of being the most Latin Italian in the world!” she exclaimed to cheers. “It seems to me that today is the day in which we confirm to the entire world that our adoption is legal, that our hands will not let go, and above all that our hearts will remain together. I promise this.”
With her husband and musical director on guitar, Pausini closed her big night on stage with a medley of “Durar”, “La Soledad”, “Víveme,” “En Cambio No”, and a cappella renditions of “Amores Extraños” and “Entre Tú Y Mil Mares.
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