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Latin Music Awards Kentucky celebrates Latin American culture and art

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Latin Music Awards Kentucky
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Fourth Street Live will be transformed into an awards show venue for the Latin Music Awards Kentucky Friday night.

The awards show is free and open to the public, with a ticketed after-party at Sports & Social Club on Fourth street.

There are 15 awards categories including best Latin artist, best Latin song, best mariachi band and best tropical artist.

The first Latin Music Awards Kentucky took place in 2019, but organizers conceptualized the ceremony the year before.

Latin Music Awards Kentucky president Israel Cuenca said the goal was “to create an event, a program that can recognize Latin artists in the community, in Kentucky, in this region.”

In addition to announcing winners, the show will feature performances from artists A-Corde Band, El Dominante and Asly Toro, who have won awards in the past.

Despite COVID-19 resulting in a virtual ceremony in 2020, the event has steadily grown since its inception.

“We started with nine categories, and then 11, and then 15, and now 15,” Cuenca said.

As the categories expanded, he said the number of artists the organization is able to nominate has grown to nearly 70 different performers.

As a result, the larger ceremony now more accurately reflects the diversity of the Latin American community.

“We try to be as inclusive as possible,” Cuenca said. “That’s why we expand every time with more categories, identifying which categories we are not having so next year we can have this category or that category that can show those minorities within the Latin American community.”

Highlighting diversity is an important aspect of the ceremony.

That’s why Cuenca and fellow organizers chose to hold the event during Hispanic/Latinx heritage month. Running from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the month celebrates the history, culture and contributions of Latin American people and countries.

This year’s nominees, while all Kentucky residents, represent several countries across Latin America.

The organization nominates some of the artists up for consideration. In addition, artists can nominate themselves, but they must be approved for participation.

The winners are decided through a combination of voting by the public and the opinions of local music experts.

Cuenca said they take into account the number of releases, performances and impact an artist has had in addition to the overall quality music.

“It’s a very holistic approach. It’s not just OK, he has more votes so he wins,” Cuenca said.

This approach and input from those involved in the Latin American music community helps when competing artists are close in votes.

The Latin Music Awards Kentucky organization, in addition to awarding artists, gives partial scholarships to students attending Kentucky colleges and universities.

This year, 12 students — attending Bellarmine University, Jefferson County Technical and Community College and the University of Louisville — will receive funds.

“We give them because it’s a way to give back to our community,” Cuenca said. “It’s partial scholarships, but we are glad to do it.”

The organization works with the directors of diversity at those institutions to identify students who would be good recipients.

Disclosure: Louisville Public Media is a media sponsor of the Latin Music Awards.

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