Navani Knows the 2011 Latin Grammys Recap!


Latinos from far and wide came together last night in Las Vegas to participate in the 12th Annual Latin Grammy Awards. Besides music icons the green carpet was adorned with Latino actors and entertainers from across the globe donning their glam looks and best Spanish accents. I was even super impressed to see Latinos from America like Adrienne Bailon, Demi Lovato and Zoe Saldana speaking in their native tongue – which was a first for me in all my years as a journalist in this market. what I really want to cover are my highlights – which come down to two names: Shakira and Calle 13.

The night started off with a bang as controversial duo Calle 13 opened the ceremony performing their hit ‘Latinoamerica’, alongside the great Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela. The song celebrates the values of Latinos across the Western Hemisphere, who can’t be bought or sold. The powerful performance led to the first standing ovation of the night and it turned out to be a harbinger of things to come as Calle 13 dominated the evening, winning 9 awards, including a clean sweep of the 3 most important ones, Album of the Year, and for ‘Latinoamerica’, Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

9 is huge! It should’ve just been called the Calle 13 awards because they were on stage the whole show. Which was fine with me. If you follow my blog I don’t need to express my sentiments for the group and what they stand for. You can see it even in the shirt Rene wore which read  “Por la educacion publica (for public education)” emblazoned in big letters. Can you see why I heart him?

Another person I was happy to see honored last night was Colombiana Shakira, who was named person of the year. Shakira gave a live performance of “Devoción” from her 2010 album Sale El Sol. I actually like this sound better than her usual pop tart stuff. Later she performed “Antes De La Seis” . Shakira was also awarded Female Pop Vocal Album, for the Spanish-language ‘Sale El Sol’. The person of the year award was presented by fellow Colombiana Sofia Vergara, who fun fact: was also Shaki’s neighbor in Baranquilla. The  heartfelt acceptance speech that followed turned out to be the most emotional part of the evening where she said:

“This is without a doubt one of the most important moments of my life, and perhaps the nicest recognition that I have ever received. I’m honored to share it with you. Last night I had a beautiful night to remember, sharing with my friends and colleagues who I respect and admire. My dad even sang. It was a night I will never forget, seeing artists and colleagues singing my songs is an honor I don’t deserve. I dedicate this award to my colleagues, who with music cure all ills and give meaning to everything,”

I love to see awesome people that stand for something and use their power and art for empowerment/ social awareness get recognized. That is what this year’s awards did for once. Gold Star to them! For the full list of winners and more highlights (yes, I’m sure you heard about the Romeo and Usher performance, Marc Anthony and Pitbull etc.) check out the Latin Grammy official website.

Navani Knows: Calle 13 Speaks Out Against U.S.

If you know me, you know I can’t go too long without making mention of something Calle 13 related. Partly, because I secretly want to bear Rene Perez’s children. But mostly, because of his outspoken political views. I respect a man that can be both poetic and political in his music.

Political he was last week at a show in Havana, Cuba. When the opportunity came to perform in Cuba, of course the group took it, no matter what political undertones may have be associated with it.  Tuesday, March 23, 2010. Calle 13 brought its reggeton and hip hop to fans from an open-air, concrete stage dubbed “Anti-imperialist Plaza” and built in the shadow of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Cuba. During the concert Calle 13 expressed their dislike of the US policies. Early on, lead singer Rene Perez screamed a string of profanity at the “building behind us,” and kept up the verbal assault on the Interests Section as the evening wore on.

It’s no surprise that Rene still holds a grudge against the US for the “alleged” murder of Filiberto Ojeda Rios. They made it known by performing  “Querido FBI,” or “Dear FBI,” a song dedicated to Filiberto Ojeda Rios, alleged leader of a militant Puerto Rican nationalist group accused of using stolen millions to finance bombings and attacks. Ojeda Rios died in a 2005 shootout with the FBI at a remote farmhouse in Puerto Rico.

Rene remarked:

He was a good boricua, and they killed him!

Ouch. The group is preparing for a follow up concert in Miami and is bracing for some backlash from those who see the visit to Cuba as support for the country’s communist government. Perez said Monday the band is influenced by politics in most things it does, and is aware it’s making a statement with the Havana show.

Check out the pics after the jump…

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Navani Knows Miami Movie Screenings

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When I first heard that my job would be sending to Miami to cover the Pedro movie screening event at Florida International University, I was elated. Most likely, because this is was the first time I’ve ever traveled on the job’s dime, AND to glamorous Miami at that. Besides that was the fact that I would be staying at the Shore Club AND interviewing Residente of Calle 13 which was of course, the icing on the cake. Although I work for a Latin entertainment company, I rarely like a lot of the artists that come through our doors. This was one exception and I was thrilled!

The Shore Club did live up to it’s chic expections with every room and lobby space adorned in all white. When I saw a member of INXS checking in next to me and Floyd Mayweather chillin with his entourage in the cut, I knew I had arrived. But it wasn’t that aspect of my trip that would be most exciting. Nor was it dining at Nobu, or popping bottles with Venezuelan pop stars, or hanging out with the cast of the Pedro movie themselves (although everyone was totally cool don’t get me wrong).

No, I think as far as touching moments go there are two that are most memorable for me and are tied for first place.

First off, interviewing one of the few Latin rappers I actually LIKE, Residente of Calle 13. And not because he is super cute and Puerto Rican (well a lil bit), but because I got to see a different side of  him when I asked how he has been affected by the AIDS epidemic. Always a fan of his socially conscious songs, I expected his interview to impress me. However, he earned a whole new respect from me when he candidly opened up about his family members living with and dying of AIDS. He spoke about the importance of safe sex as someone who actually meant it. And he showed me getting tested is so important he carries around his results in his wallet.

So I don’t know which moment wowed me more – that conversation OR hearing an audience full of students sniffle at the end of the Pedro movie. I was so touched to see that Pedro’s message and life still can inspire so many people after so many years – especially with his entire family sitting right there in the audience with them. SAdly, the AIDS epidemic is only growing but I think we’ve just recruited a new league of soldiers in the fight against it.

Check out what else Residente had to say in my interview on Blogamole. Catch Pedro when it airs on MTV Tr3s on April 1 at 8pm.

Navani Knows How To Pay It Forward

Hey blogworld, I’m back from my mini-hiatus. Sorry  I was M.I.A. but the last two weeks have been so crazy! Like good crazy. I’ve been super busy – at work and outside of it. In the last week I’ve managed to meet and interview Ludacris, talk to Yung Berg AKA Corn Berg, walk past Mark Wahlberg and hear him say hi to me AND sneak up to a Calle 13 photoshoot and casually say hi to Residente (ok not so casually, I kinda stared at him awkwardly the whole time and ran away). PS The album is hot too so get into it.

Ok, enough shameless plugging of my boyfriend ( I wish lol). Aside from all the sightings, I also stayed busy by supporting my fellow artists. That’s the great thing about surrounding yourself with other creative people – they keep you inspired by their successes. So, I’ve dedicated the last two weeks to supporting others in their own artistic quests.

Ivan Sanchez: Next Stop: Growing Up WildStyle in the Bronx Book Party
I met Ivan when he blogged for me at Si TV. He was always a cool, humble dude and passionate about helping the youth. So  I am very excited to see his memoir on growing up Puerto Rican in the Bronx come out on Simon & Schuster (cause I am too Puerto Rican from the Bronx) and was thrilled to attend the launch party at Club Morroco on October 11th. It was really great to see so many powerful Latinos from the Boogiedown band together. People like April Lee Hernandez (Freedom Writers), Luis Guzman (Carlito’s Way) DJ Disco Wiz and La Bruja may not be known in mainstream America, but they are heroes in my America. When Ivan isn’t busy writing his or his brother Disco Wiz’s story, he is going back to the Bronx with April to speak to the youth about their future and “Next Stop”. For more info on his book check out his myspace page.

Oliver Rios: RAICES 3.0 Art Exhibit opening
Oliver is a graphic artist and old friend of the family straight from el barrio. He looked out for me during my brief/non-existent stint as a graphic artist and thanks to Facebook we’ve just reconnected. When he is not using his skills for advertising, he is busy putting together shows for breast cancer and exhibits like this one to showcase his heritage. This event was quite swanky located at the Pomegranate gallery in soho (fancy). There Oliver showcased his prints inspired by his Puerto Rican culture. For more info check out: www.oriosdesigns.com

WHCAP Benefit Fundraiser:
The Washing ton Heights Community Arts Project is a non-profit org dedicated to exposing youth in that neighborhood to the arts. Headed by my friend Greg Nunez and Carolyn Lopez, the program offers classes on everything from pottery to spoken word in an attempt to make arts accessible to youth that might not otherwise get it. This past Wednesday they held a nifty lil benefit event at Pier 66 in NYC to raise money. The show featured L. Boogs (Sucker Free Latino) as the host, Carlos Santos (Mi TRL) as stand up comic and rapper Malverde as music portion of the evening. Shout out to Carol C from Si Se who held down the ones and twos (she is my new fave DJ now). All in all a great turn out for an even greater cause.

Somehow, in the midst of all that, I also managed to go apartment hunting AND get a website for myself started. Phew, no wonder I am pooped!  Toodles mi gente.

Graphic by Oliver Rios

Navani Knows: Calle 13

Calle 13 mania is taking over and all I can say is it’s about time…

I got to see them perform live last night for the first time at Nokia Theater and it was pretty amazing. Though I don’t know who really made the show more: Residente or his lil sis Ileana (aka PG-13) with her parasol antics on stage. Who needs an official hype man when you can have your lil sis on stage dancing around with an open parasol? She is just too darn cute! I wanna be like her when I grow up. One thing is for sure, this family loves what they do, it was written all over their faces the entire show. They live to perform and engage crowds and engage they did – leaving everyone screaming for an encore. Continue reading