Six songwriters from an earlier era of romantic Spanish-language popular music were announced Monday in Miami as the first artists to be honored by the recently formed Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. The honorees include two stars well known in the United States, the Spanish balladeer and romantic idol Julio Iglesias, and the New York-raised, blind Puerto Rican singer-songwriter and guitarist Jose Feliciano.
The other four inductees announced in Monday’s press conference at the Bacardi Building in downtown Miami, the home of the Young Arts Foundation, included revered Mexican composer Armando Manzanero, author of such classics as Voy a Apagar La Luz and Contigo Aprendi. Also from Mexico is Jose Angel Espinoza “Ferrusquilla,” known as an actor in Mexican and American films of the ’50s and ’60s, as well as for authoring ballads such as La Ley Del Monte and Echame A Mi La Culpa. Another inductee from Spain, Manuel Alejandro, wrote numerous hits for ’70s and ’80s romantic idols such as Raphael, Emmanuel and Jose Jose. The only woman on the list, Concha Valdez Miranda, came to Miami from Cuba in the early ’60s and authored songs such as La Mitad and El Viaje.
All six will be honored April 23 in a ceremony hosted by actor John Leguizamo at the New World Symphony’s New World Center in Miami Beach.
The inductees were chosen by LSHOF members, who voted on 24 nominees announced in December — selected from hundreds. A tie in the votes produced six honorees instead of the five originally announced.
Songwriters must have written their first notable song at least 20 years ago to be eligible, said producer and songwriter Desmond Child, who formed the LSHOF last fall with fellow producer and composer Rudy Perez. The group’s leaders say the organization, which is based in Miami, will eventually have a museum and research center on Latin music.
“As opposed to an awards show that celebrates the hit of that season or that year, we’re celebrating a lifetime of achievement,” Child said Monday. “Our award is more like the Nobel prize of Latin songwriting. Once they’re inducted they’re in forever.”
The ceremony, which will feature performances and notable presenters, will also honor famed Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona 50 years after his death. In addition, the event will include a special award for female composers, which this year will go to Natalia Jimenez, lead singer of Spanish pop group La Quinta Estacion. It was created in honor of Child’s mother, Cuban songwriter Elena Casals, and is meant to encourage female songwriters.