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Salon de la Fama Internacional de la Musica Latina. Segunda ceremonia anual de introduccion y premios.

The International Latin Music Hall of Fame's 2nd Annual Induction & Awards Ceremonies took place on April 5th at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture in the Bronx. It was an incredible evening of music and history as the ILMHF inducted 34 musical legends.

This year's program was not only open to the public, but was cybercast live by so that Latin music aficionados worldwide could experience the ceremonies.

ILMHF president and founder Jose Hernandez was very pleased that since the initial ceremonies took place at Manhattan's Birdland last year, his organization has received a lot of recognition.

Indeed, this year, the White House recognized the ILMHF. From Hostos' stage, Hernandez shared President Clinton's letter of commendation. The president's letter stated, "I applaud this year's honorees for your commitment to excellence in your art, and I salute the staff and supporters of the International Latin Music Hall of Fame for your efforts to promote Latin music and recognize the talents of its artists."

The President added in his letter to the ILMHF, "By bringing the exciting harmonies and driving rhythms of Latin music to appreciative audiences in America and around the world, you are helping to ensure that the artistic life of our nation continues to flourish in the 21st Century."

New York City's Comptroller, Alan Havesi, issued a proclamation in honor of the ILMHF which was presented on stage to Hernandez that evening.

The program itself was unforgettable. The mesmerized audience was treated to a tightly choreographed, highly effective multi-media presentation which included video montages on a giant on-stage screen, musical performances, and awards presentations.

The event's official artist, Eric Padilla, created three dynamic, colorful paintings for the occasion. His large 10' by 5' work graced the stage area behind the musicians, and each side of the stage was adorned by 8' by 4' painting.

Film producer Avenol Franco's film montages, depicting special moments in the lives of Latin music legends, were shown throughout the evening. Legends were honored, legends performed, and film montages of icons past and present combined to produce an emotional roller coaster effect on the audience. Gasps, tears, laughter, cries, and loud bursts of applause were heard in the auditorium all evening, as people were overcome by emotion.

It was a star-studded audience -- folks like Joe Bataan, Joe Cuba, Johnny Pacheco, and Matt Dillon sat, gasped, laughed, cried, and applauded, along with everyone else.

Fox 5 TV newscaster Mario Bosquez opened the ceremonies. Columnist and host of NJN TV's Images/Imagenes, Miguel Perez was Master of Ceremonies for the second year in a row.

Nora (of Orquesta de la Luz fame) was the first artist to perform. Her vigorous presence and highly enthusiastic demeanor served to offer yet one more proof that Latin music is revered all over the planet.

The evening, as one would expect, produced many magical moments. The ILMHF Ensemble consisted of Alfredito Valdes, Jr., Jimmy Delgado, Johnny Rodriguez, Nelson Gonzalez, George Delgado, and Jerry Madera.

Raul Azpiazu, son of legendary Hall of Famer Don Azpiazu, stood on stage and sang the tango Na'Na. Hall of Famer Benny More's brother, Miguel Angel More performed a couple of numbers, including one with inductee Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros. Vocalist Lino Iglesias appeared elegant as he delivered the number Piel Canela. Junior Gonzalez and inductee Larry Harlow teamed up to perform the classic La Cartera, driving the audience wild. Harlow himself created another memorable moment when he threw a green feather boa around the shoulders of inductee Yomo Toro, as he played in his own inimitable style. Onlookers were visibly moved, watching two veterans perform -- inductees Luis Kalaff and Johnny Albino.

Dave Valentin's comedic skills rivaled his musical virtuosity as he stood at the podium, reviewing Hall of Famer Johnny Pacheco's career before presenting him with the ILMHF's Benny More Award, a special honor reserved for previous inductees who have contributed to the popularity of Latin music.

Actor Matt Dillon presented ILMHF Lifetime Achievement Awards to Hall of Famers Chico O'Farrill and Israel Lopez Cachao. The picture of O'Farrill and Cachao embracing each other on stage will forever be emblazoned in my memory.

Both Bobby Capo and Charlie Palmieri were posthumously inducted this year with their families present. Capo's daughter Soraya Rodriguez, accepted her father's induction award. Palmieri's widow Esther, looked on proudly as daughter Nina Palmieri accepted her father's award.

My own special moment occurred when I took to the stage to present Ray Barretto with his induction award. For me it was coming full circle. I was the kid who used to record his albums, like The Message, on his stereo equipment in his basement. I was the underaged kid who used to sneak out to the Cheetah on 52nd & 8th to which him play on school nights. He was and still is the man who inspired me with his musical and personal integrity. What a thrill it was to hand him that award.

ILMHF Special Recognition Awards were bestowed upon Latin Beat's Max Salazar, as well as Joe Gaines, Izzy Sanabria, Willie Sanchez, and Miguel Perez. Harry Belafonte is also a recipient of this year's special ILMHF honor which recognizes individuals who are neither Latin music performers nor inductees, but who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the music.

The part of the evening that really choked me up was the finale, when all of the stars came up on stage to jam, even Joe Gaines and Izzy Sanabria.

Joe Hernandez is extremely grateful to his staff for their hard work and commitment to excellence. He also expresses gratitude to film producer Avenol Franco, his camera crew, and sponsors White Rose, Nestle, Good Humor, Pillsbury,, Agrilink, Tito Puente's Restaurant, and the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture.

Hernandez stated, "I felt a deep sense of satisfaction just from seeing the faces of those who were inducted. The gratitude that they expressed, and the reaction and emotions displayed by members of the audience meant more than anything else. The people who love the music have not forgotten the pioneers of the music, the La Lupes of the world."

The ceremony continues to be the talk of the town. Hernandez, who continues to receive letters, e-mails, and phone calls from people still marveling over the event, does not consider his work to be done, by any means. He's just returned from Puerto Rico, where he presented Cheo Feliciano with his ILMHF induction award in front of 15,000 fans at a Fania concert.

Regarding this trip, Hernandez remarked, "It is very important for the ILMHF to reach out to all of Latin America to get their input and cooperation...our pilgrimage began in Puerto Rico where 17 of this year's inductees were native to this beautiful island." And Hernandez is already visualizing next year's event.

The International Latin Music Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to upholding, elevating, and preserving Latin music and culture, and honoring its heroes. To me, Joe Hernandez is a hero.

Further information about the ILMHF is available at (212) 726-3800, and at
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Author:Sola, Vicki
Publication:Latin Beat Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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