Throughout the afternoon last Sunday, the vibrant sounds of Latin music wafted along the cliffs of the Palisades as West New York hosted the inaugural celebration of the 2010 Latin Grammy Street Parties along a five-block stretch of Boulevard East.
Boasting a prime view of the New York City skyline, the kick-off event was the first of a month-long national Latin music tour that will include street parties in Chicago, South Florida, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas prior to the annual awards show, which will be broadcast live from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Currently in its eighth year, the Latin Grammy Street Parties is recognized as the only national Latin music festival series, and includes free live music, displays, and product sampling.
“It’s a great thing,” said Commissioner Alberto Rodriguez, who handles public works and cultural affairs for the town. “We’ve been working with them together now for two years. I think it was an excellent event.”
“West New York is definitely the new home of the Latin Grammy Street Parties for awhile to come.” – Alberto Rodriguez
“They all did a great job,” said Rodriguez.
‘New home’ for Street Parties
Sunday was not the first time that Hudson County has played host to some of the most famous acts in Latin music for the Grammy Street Parties.
West New York was the location for one of the parties last year, which featured Bachata Heightz, reggaeton artist Arcangel, and salsa greats Oscar De Leon and Luis Enrique.
And in 2008 the Street Parties kicked off on Bergenline Avenue in Union City during an event in which officials presented Latin music icons Ralph Mercado and Gilberto Santa Rosa with keys to the city and stars in the Walk of Fame at Celia Cruz Park.
Rodriguez said that the town of West New York was approached by organizers of the event with the opportunity to host the party, and after the success in 2009, they came back again this year.
“The boulevard offers just a great physical location,” said Rodriguez. “The location lends itself perfectly for that because of the wide avenue, the view, the park area.”
Rodriguez added that an important component of making the event a success was trying to ease the strain on residents who live in the area, recognizing that not everyone may enjoy that type of music.
“We tried to make it as pleasant and as comfortable for everyone,” said Rodriguez. “We made sure that it was a very safe event.”
So will the streets of West New York again be the stage for the hottest Latin stars next year?
“I think so,” said Rodriguez. “West New York is definitely the new home of the Latin Grammy Street Parties for awhile to come.”
A commissioner and a ‘gentleman’
Sunday’s festivities were headlined by world famous acts, including tropical music artist Gilberto Santa Rosa, bachata duo Carlos & Alejandra, and reggaeton sensation Zion & Lennox.
Rodriguez admitted that Gilberto Santa Rosa, also known as “the Gentleman of Salsa,” was “definitely very, very good,” but he did have another favorite – local tropical group La Bola, in which Rodriguez himself plays percussion and drums.
Other local performers Oro Solido, 24 Horas, and Fame also got a chance to shine next to the big stars on the stage.
And that’s the point of the music series – it’s meant not only to feature performances by some of Latin music’s hottest artists, but also to serve as a launching platform for emerging talent from various genres.
“These events not only pave the way towards the biggest night in Latin music, but allow Latin communities to come together and celebrate the diversity of our music and culture,” said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy, the organization which produces the Latin Grammy Awards. “We are extremely excited and proud to bring established as well as emerging artists to various cities across the country and offer these free festivals to all music fans for eight years in a row.”
Gearing up for the big show
The Latin Grammy Awards will be broadcast on Nov. 11 from 8 to 11 p.m. on the Univision network. In addition to its U.S. broadcast, the 11th Annual Latin Grammy will be broadcast in approximately 100 countries worldwide.
The official sponsor of the event, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, is giving away a VIP trip to Las Vegas to experience the awards ceremony first hand.
One lucky Hudson County resident who registered on Sunday may have the chance to win, but that won’t be known for a few weeks – registration for the trip giveaway will also be available at the other parties prior to a winner being chosen.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.