Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colombia's Juanes sweeps MTV Latin America awards

Juanes: Medellin, Colombia's native son pays tribute to Metallica

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters By Armando Tovar)
- Colombian pop star Juanes was the big winner at the 2008 MTV Latin America awards on Thursday, scooping up four trophies to add to his ballooning collection as one of the region's best-selling artists.

A suave rocker known for foot-tapping hits like "A Dios le Pido" (I ask God) and "La Camisa Negra" (The Black Shirt), Juanes won "Artist of the Year," "Best Solo Artist," "Best Rock Artist" and "Best Artist - Central" at the event in the Mexican city of Guadalajara.

Fans screamed as the singer, dressed in his trademark black, collected his trophies -- lurid pink tongues with metal piercings, mounted on a base -- and paid tribute to veteran rock band Metallica, who played at the event.

"I am here thanks to Metallica," Juanes said, sporting a new short haircut.

"When I was 13 I listened to Metallica's first record and I went to buy an electric guitar. I decided to become a musician," said Juanes, who performed a track from his new album "La Vida es un Ratico" (Life is a Moment).

Other winners, picked by television viewers via the Internet and text messages, included Cafe Tacuba, one of Mexico's most popular bands, as "Best Alternative Artist," and Chile's Kudai as "Best Pop Artist" and "Best Group or Duet."

Juanes, whose nickname is a contraction of his name Juan Esteban, grew up in the violent Colombian city of Medellin.

He got his break eight years ago from a Los Angeles music producer and has become one of Latin America's biggest stars, selling 10 million records and picking up a string of Grammys.

His catchy tracks fuse rock with Latin folk music and range from love ballads to songs that rue the 40-year-old conflict between armed guerrilla groups and the Colombian government.

Mexican and Colombian artists have taken the most awards since the annual MTV Latin America contest was launched in 2002.

Guadalajara -- Mexico's second-biggest city and home to tequila, mariachi bands and rodeo-style horsemen -- was the most adventurous venue yet for the ceremony, which was held in Mexico City for the past two years and in Miami before that.

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