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Latin GRAMMYs: 30 of the Most Memorable and Iconic Performances

On November 14, the Latin GRAMMYs will be celebrating two decades of showcasing and honoring Latin music and the artists who create it. The awards telecast has allowed us as a people and culture, to really examine, learn, and embrace so many different musical genres, from several different parts of Latin America and beyond. This all began with the very first show —  airing on September 13, 2000 — which was said to be inspired by Ricky Martin’s blockbuster Grammy’s performance

Since then, we have sat by our television sets to catch those exciting rhythmic moments that have become iconic — Ricky Martin dancing with Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan, Shakira belly dancing to Lebanese-tinged music, and Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi performing their powerhouse reggaeton hit, “Despacito.”

In honor of the Latin GRAMMYs turning 20, we wanted to share some of its most epic performances, which showcase puro Latinx excellence and give us major orgullo.

Tito Puente Tribute, 2000 Latin GRAMMYs


Cubano music legend Tito Puente passed away on May 31, 2000. For the inaugural Latin GRAMMYs that same year, legends Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Tito Puente Jr., Sheila E., and Andy Garcia took part in one of those once in a lifetime pop culture moments in his honor. They appeared on stage together, dancing and performing to songs such as “Oye Como Va,” and “Quimbara.”

Shakira’s “Ojos Asi” Performance, 2000 Latin GRAMMYs

The Latin GRAMMYs granted Latinx artists the option to perform exclusively in Spanish, to an audience filled with their fans and peers. In 2000, Shakira was in between her 1998 Dónde Están los Ladrones? album and the release of her massive success 2001’s Laundry Service (which featured songs in English for the first time). It was the perfect time to drop a performance worth remembering. At this first GRAMMYs, Shakira belly danced to her hit “Ojos Asi.”

Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” in Spanish, 2000 Latin GRAMMYs

Ever since Ricky Martin’s amazing performance of “The Cup of Life” at the 1999 GRAMMYs, where he slayed singing in both English and Spanish, other artists quickly followed suit. After dropping her 2000 Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo, Christina Aguilera also performed at the very first Latin GRAMMYs, singing “Genie in a Bottle,” in Español.

Maná and Carlos Santana Perform “Corazon Espinado,” 2000 Latin GRAMMYs

Carlos Santana’s mega comeback record, Supernatural, was released in 1999, so naturally, he was a perfect choice for a performer at the very first Latin GRAMMYs. At the show, he performed his hit with rock band Maná, “Corazon Espinado,” which had just been dropped that June of 2000.

Son by Four and N’SYNC’s “This I Promise You” in Spanish, 2001 Latin GRAMMYs

One of the great things about music award shows is that the performances are little moments of pop culture perfection, often bringing together amazing artists who normally wouldn’t collaborate. Just take the teaming up of Son by Four and N’SYNC. Throngs of ladies were no doubt screaming their heads off when Son by Four sang their iconic “A Puro Dolor,” followed by N’SYNC crooning to “This I Promise You” in Spanish.

Celia Cruz, “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” 2002 Latin GRAMMYs

You couldn’t have a legendary Latin GRAMMYs without including one of our biggest music icons (and music legends in general), Celia Cruz. In this 2002 performance, the Queen of Salsa, introduced by Gloria Estefan, proceeds to get everyone moving to her hit, “La Negra Tiene Tumbao.” The classic jam was nominated for the following Latin GRAMMYs that year: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video.

Thalia Sings No Me Enseñaste, 2002 Latin GRAMMYs

Thalia is arguably the Queen of Latin Pop and was part of Latinx pop culture in general big time during the ’90s and ’00s (she is also called the Queen of Telenovelas). In 2003, the Mexican artist released her first crossover album, Thalia, so it was only natural that she would be invited to perform one of its hit singles, “Tu Me Enseñaste.”

Carlos Santana and Los Lonely Boys, 2004 Latin GRAMMYs


A truly epic moment at the 2004 Latin GRAMMYs was Carlos Santana and Los Lonely Boys uniting to pay homage to Ritchie Valens by playing “La Bamba.” They then performed their collaborative song, “Don’t Want to Lose Your Love,” off of Santana’s 2005 album, All That I Am, bringing the Chicano music past and the future together at that moment. Earlier that year, Los Lonely Boys had released their smash hit, “Heaven.”

George Lopez Jams Out with Ozomatli, 2004 Latin GRAMMYs

Ozomatli, the L.A. band that brings together Chicano rock, funk, Hip-Hop, world fusion, and more dropped their Street Signs album in 2004 (which won both a GRAMMY and a Latin GRAMMY), the same year they were invited to perform at the Latin GRAMMYs. A special part of that televised performance was comedian George Lopez jumping on the guitar to jam out with the band.

Los 12 Discipulos Bring that OG Reggaeton, 2005 Latin GRAMMYs

Reggaeton performances are abundant at the Latin GRAMMYs these days, and they keep getting more and more spectacular, with elaborate laser shows, dazzling costumes, and the like. But, with all music genres, you have to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate the OGs that made all that possible. At the 2005 Latin GRAMMYs, member of Los 12 Discipulos, including Tego Calderon, Eddie Dee, Gallego, Ivy Queen, Vico C, and Zion performed their hit “Quitate Tu Pa’ Ponerme Yo” (side note: check out their T-shirts paying homage to other Puerto Rican and Latinx music greats).

Ricky Martin’s Person of the Year Performance, 2006 Latin GRAMMYs

At the 2006 Latin GRAMMYs, Ricky Martin was honored as the Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year. For his performance, the icon made sure to give the audience two completely different moods in one. He opened with “Tu Recuerdo,” a slow, romantic song that he sang bundled up while sitting under falling snow in the city. That moment then erupted into a high-octane performance of “Pegate,” featuring all the energy and hip-shaking Ricky is known for.

Olga Tañon, Jenny Rivera, and Vicky Carr, 2008 Latin GRAMMYs

These special Latin GRAMMY performances serve as unique musical moments that become part of our pop culture forever. At the 2008 Latin GRAMMYs, three Latina superstars, Olga Tañon, Jenny Rivera, and Vicky Carr, joined forces to sign Carr’s “Cosas del Amor.” While we will never be able to get this exact moment again live, we thankfully have it to watch again whenever we want.

Jose Feliciano, Carlos Santana, and Gloria Estefan, 2008 Latin GRAMMYs

Latin music legends Jose Feliciano, Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan, and the Miami Sound Machine united to perform “No Llores” at the 2008 Latin Grammys and it was epic — to say the least. The song is off of Estefan’s 2007 album, 90 Millas, and features both Feliciano and Santana, as well as Sheila E.

Jenny and Lupillo Rivera, 2008 Latin GRAMMYs

The 2008 Latin GRAMMYs brought us a tender moment between two musical greats: Jenni Rivera and Lupillo Rivera. Jenni starts her heart-wrenching performance of “Sufriendo a Solas,” before her brother appears on stage to join her in song, proclaiming that he will never let her be alone.

Juan Gabriel’s Person of the Year Performance, 2009 Latin GRAMMYs

When icon, legend, and El Divo de Juarez Juan Gabriel was honored as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, he returned the honor with an unprecedented performance. He performed a medley of his hits for over 40 minutes, accompanied by mariachi and to an audience up on their feet. The GRAMMYs that year had to extend their three-hour show by more than 25 minutes, but we’re sure nobody minded.

Jenni Rivera, 2010 Latin GRAMMYs


We want to hold on to as many Jenni Rivera moments as we can, which includes her feminist, badass performances. This one is from the 2010 Latin GRAMMYs, where she performs “Por Que No Le Calas,” which was released as a single in April of that year. The song is off her iconic 2009 album, La Gran Señora.

ChocQuibTown and Chino y Nacho, 2011 Latin GRAMMYs

ChocQuibTown’s 2007 jam, “Somos Pacifico” was such a special song, as it repped for and celebrated both Afro-Colombian and Afro-Latinx culture, identity, and pride. The group was invited to perform it at the 2011 Latin GRAMMYs, where after their performance, fellow South Americans Chino y Nacho sang 2009’s “Mi Niña Bonita,” and “Lo Que No Sabes Tu.”

Paulina Rubio and Los Tigres del Norte, 2011 Latin GRAMMYs

It’s an especially cool thing when artists of different genres come together to create music. Paulina Rubio and Los Tigres del Norte performed together at the 2011 Latin GRAMMYs, melding Paulina’s Latin pop sensibilities with Los Tigres’ norteño style (and an orchestra) on “Golpes En El Corazon.” This wasn’t the first time the two icons joined forces to perform this song. However, the collaboration was the first single off of MTV Unplugged: Los Tigres del Norte and Friends album, released that same year.

Calle 13, and Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar Perform “Latinoamerica,” 2011 Latin GRAMMYs

You can always count on Residente of Calle 13 to deliver a Latin GRAMMYs performance full of meaning, music, and heart. Back in 2011, he teamed up with and Gustavo Dudamel and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar to perform the bold “Latinoamerica,” a hit Calle 13 had just dropped that September.

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, 2013 Latin GRAMMYs

It’s hard to imagine a Latin music awards show that doesn’t feature a performance by Pitbull, but it wasn’t always so. We found this 2013 performance of his at the Latin GRAMMYs which very well may have been his first time. After performing with El Cata on the 2013 song “Cotorra y Voli,” Pitbull is joined by Enrique Iglesias to perform their 2010 hit jam, “I Like It.”

Salsa Giants, 2013 Latin GRAMMYs

In 2013, Sergio George Presents: Salsa Giants, which includes performances by artists such as Oscar D’Leon, Tito Nieves, Nora from Orquesta de la Luz, Marc Anthony, and more, won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Salsa Album. It was fitting then, that some of the icons featured on the winning album (Tito Nieves, Oscar D’Leon, Jose Alberto El Canario, Ismael Miranda, and Willy Chirino ) performed “Para Celebrar” (which features the line “it’s a good day to celebrate”) that year on the Latin GRAMMY stage.

Los Tigres del Norte and Maná Stand Up for Mexican Immigrants, 2015 Latin GRAMMYs

Music has long been used as an artistic vehicle to deliver strong, important messages. In the song “Somos Mas Americanos,” Los Tigres del Norte give the world a straight-up history lesson about how Mexicans are more American than Anglo-Saxons, and how a large part of the U.S. was in fact Mexico. For the 2015 Latin GRAMMYs, Los Tigres performed this jam with Maná, to show their solidarity with immigrants. The icing on the cake? At the end of the performances, both groups hold up a sign stating “Latinos Unidos No Voten Por Racistas.”

That Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony Duet, 2016 Latin GRAMMYs

There always has to be a bit of drama at awards shows. We’re talking performances that ooo and ah and have people talking about them the next day on the gossip shows, in the news, and across social media. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony delivered their 2016 Latin GRAMMYs performance with a kiss, when the once-married duo sang their version of the song “Olvídame y Pega La Vuelta,” which was released as a single the very next day. Also released the next day, was a statement regarding Marc’s divorce from then-wife Shannon de Lima.

J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Steve Aoki, 2017 Latin GRAMMYs

At the 2017 Latin GRAMMYs, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and Steve Aoki’s performance took ’80s and ’90s neon, lasers, and designs and threw them into the future. Performed were two hits: the Latin-GRAMMY nominated “Si Tu Novio Te Deja Sola,” and “Mi Gente.”

Carlos Vives and Sebastian Yatra Perform Together, 2017 Latin GRAMMYs

Colombian artists Carlos Vives and Sebastian Yatra closed the musical generation gap when they performed together at the 2017 Latin GRAMMYs. After Yatra opened the performance with his slow and triste tune, “Devuelvame el Corazon,” he joined Vives on the upbeat “Robarte Un Beso.” Both songs were released as singles that same year.

Alejandro Sanz and DREAMers Perform “Corazon Partio,” 2017 Latin GRAMMYs

The Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year for 2017 was Alejandro Sanz. Sanz took his platform to dedicate this honor to the many DREAMers in America. To bring the point home, during his performance of “Corazon Partio,” several DREAMers joined him onstage to sing along, wearing T-shirts that read “We Have One Dream.”

Juanes, Logic, and Alessia Cara Bring Attention to Suicide Prevention, 2017 Latin GRAMMYs

In another poignant example of using music to bring attention to important issues, at the 2017 Latin GRAMMYs, rapper Logic performed his suicide prevention awareness song, “1-800-273-8255” with Alessia Cara (who is featured on both versions of the track), and Juanes, who is featured on the Spanish remix of the 2017 hit.

Residente Stands Up for Puerto Rico, 2017 Latin GRAMMYs

Puerto Rican rapper Residente speaks his mind in his music, and always seems to deliver a strong message. Such was the case during the 2017 Latin GRAMMYs when he performed his Puerto Rican anthem, “Hijos del Cañaveral.” The song, which was nominated for Best Tropical Song that year, was a fitting serenade to an island that had just been devastated by Hurricane Maria that September.

Angela Aguilar Performs “La Llorona,” 2018 Latin GRAMMYs


At the 2018 Latin Grammys, Angela Aguilar, daughter of Pepe Aguilar, and granddaughter of Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre wowed the audience with her beautiful rendition of the classic “La Llorona.” The cover was a single off her 2018 album Primero Soy Mexicana, which received a Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Ranchero Album, as well as a GRAMMY nomination for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano). Aguilar was also nominated that year for a Best New Artist Latin GRAMMY.

Marc Anthony, Will Smith, and Bad Bunny, 2018 Latin GRAMMYs


We were so excited to learn that Will Smith, Marc Anthony, and Bad Bunny were releasing a song together. That song was 2018’s “Esta Rico,” which the musical trio opened that year’s Latin GRAMMYs award show with. With such a storied past, we look forward to this year’s Latin GRAMMYs and seeing what other megastars hop on stage to produce pop culture magic.