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Hear and Now: This week on the music beat

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BIG LATIN Much was revealed at the first annual Latin Grammy Awards, held on Sept. 13 in L.A.: a lot of skin, a few surprises, and a potential breakout Latin star in 23-year-old Colombian-born sensation Shakira, who took home best female pop vocal and best female rock vocal trophies. Producer of the Year (and Shakira producer) Emilio Estefan Jr. predicts she’ll reach Selena- or Ricky Martin-like proportions. ”Middle Eastern combined with Latin music is the next big sound,” he says. ”That’s what we’re trying to do with Shakira.” The singer, whose first English-language album will be released next year, says: ”I’m working night and day writing, but I’m also taking my time. I want this album to put a big smile on my face.”

Producer KC Porter already has a big smile on his face. Not only did he win Record of the Year (for ”Corázon Espinado,” by Santana featuring Mana), he’s recruited Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana, Sarah McLachlan, Macy Gray, Brian McKnight, B.B. King, Chaka Khan, and others to record ”Oneness,” a track Porter describes as ”We Are the World” for racial unity. ”It’s an opportunity to allow artists to voice whatever they’re feeling about different race-related issues.” The artists will also team up to work on an accompanying album, which, along with the song and video, is due in summer 2001.

When it comes to awards events, some folks think there’s not enough oneness. Presenter Hector Elizondo concedes the Latin Grammys were a huge success, but doesn’t believe there should be a Latin Emmys or Oscars. ”We’re Americans and we should be part of the Emmys, period,” he says. ”Where do you stop? Schwarzenegger may say, ‘How ’bout one for the Austrians?’ Or Pacino may ask for an Italian Oscars. It’s different in the music world because the Latin sound is such a phenomenon now — and it’s making money.”

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