It’s been 20 years since Ricky Martin took the stage at the first-ever Latin Grammy Awards, and the Puerto Rican superstar is ready to return to the annual celebration — this time as its host. The upcoming ceremony marks Martin’s first outing as an emcee, and he tells EW that he’s excited and even a little nervous.

Ricky Martin
Credit: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

“I was just thinking about the first time I walked on to that stage, holding hands with Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan — and oh my God, it’s been 20 years,” Martin, who will also be joined by co-hosts Roselyn Sanchez and Paz Vega, tells EW exclusively. “It’s been a whirlwind of emotions ever since, but it’s been beautiful. I’m really looking forward to this.”

He adds, “Right now, we’re getting creative and conceptual. We’re going to do some amazing things! It’s going to be my first time hosting something ever. I’ve never done it before, but obviously, I’m going to be surrounded by an amazing production and great creators — and especially music, which will speak for itself. We’re going to have a lot of fun.

“Am I anxious? Yeah, I’m nervous…sure, why not? Everyone I’m working with has done this before. November is going to be a great month.”

Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin, and Gloria Estefan
Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Martin did not want to give away too much in the way of what surprises fans could expect, but the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (LARAS) confirms that he will take the stage and perform.

“When I’m on a stage of that magnitude, I cannot just stand there and host,” he teases. “Let’s see what happens. We have some great new things that have never been done before at the Latin Grammys and it’s going to be interesting. It’s all about the music, it’s about not only bringing genres together but even generations together. I’m not only talking about what I’m going to be doing at the Latin Grammys as the host, I’m talking in general.”

Not only are the Latin Grammys celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2019, but it’s also been 20 years since Martin unleashed “Livin’ La Vida Loca” — the song that is heralded as the first “crossover hit.” The father of three admits he’s proud of where Latin music is today — which is all over the world.

“For me, what’s happening right now with my music is about focusing on what will happen and how this extremely talented young generation is doing for music. But also, going back in time and letting those amazing musicians that aren’t with us anymore talk through our music. That’s what this evening is going to be about.

“We will be celebrating 20 years of Latin music, it’s almost like we’re opening and closing cycles,” he continues. “Twenty years ago, we felt that explosion, the international explosion of Latin music when it went mainstream and it’s happening again. That is something that we have to learn from history, that the young generation learn about our history. They’re now following in the footsteps of what we did back then and they’re doing an amazing job. For that, I have to give them a lot of credit. People all over the world are really enjoying it and it’s beautiful for me to relive this experience again.”

61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show
Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LARAS was criticized by Urban Latino like J Balvin, Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, and Karol G after nominations were announced in September due to its lack of recognition of the genre. Martin addressed the “Sin reggaeton NO hay Latin Grammy” (without reggaeton, there’s no Grammys) controversy.

“I think that as artists, we need to work hard. We need to lock ourselves up in the studio and step out of our comfort zone and always challenge ourselves,” he explains. “I think the Academy, they’ve been here for awhile. There are many, many, many incredible musicians who have never been nominated for one reason or another. And I believe that, if you feel bad because you weren’t nominated this year, well, you know what? Lock yourself in the studio and bring something better next year.”

He adds, “And fight, fight for your art.”

The biggest night in Latin music will air live from Las Vegas on Nov. 14 via the Univision Network starting at 8 p.m. ET.

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