Blades will be honored for his continued commitment to fighting for social justice around the world by supporting initiatives that raise awareness towards political oppression, hunger, poverty, and more. Through his music, with songs such as “Prohibido Olvidar,” “Buscando América” and “Desapariciones,” he has been a champion for positive, meaningful change in Latin communities and beyond.
“Rubén Blades is a truly iconic artist who has inspired generations with his powerful and intelligent lyrics, and whose genius has stood for justice at all levels of society,” said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. “With activism and social justice movements at the forefront of our collective conversation this past year, we can’t think of a more deserving and timely honoree of the Latin Academy Person of the Year distinction.”
“I am grateful to The Latin Academy for this recognition, and I share it with everyone who has helped me throughout my artistic life,” said Blades. “Success is never the product of a sole individual’s effort, it’s the consequence of many contributions and the will and talent of other people. Today, I thank all those who made my successful career as a musician and composer possible.”
Born Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna in Panamá City, Panamá, Blades is a renowned vocalist and songwriter as well as an emblematic figure of the New York salsa revolution of the 1970s. His classic songs “El Cantante,” “Pedro Navaja” and “Plástico” have become part of the essential soundtrack of our lives.
Blades has collaborated with rock, jazz, pop, hip-hop, reggaeton and salsa artists, and has composed dozens of hits, known for their eloquent, socially charged lyrics, colorful characters and memorable melodies. He is also a prolific artist who continues to reinvent music making, seamlessly fusing his Afro-Cuban salsa roots with worldwide influences in his creations.
In addition, he is also an Emmy-nominated actor, having starred in over 50 films and television series in both English and Spanish, including his acclaimed role as Daniel Salazar in the award-winning series Fear The Walking Dead.
Beyond Blades’ artistic success, he holds law degrees from the School of Law and Political Science at the Universidad de Panamá (1974) and the Harvard Graduate Law School LL.M (1985, Master in Law). He also served as Minister of Tourism of Panamá from 2004 to 2009.
Blades will be celebrated at a special star-studded gala featuring a heartfelt tribute concert, including renditions of his renowned repertoire performed by an impressive array of notable artists and friends. Details of the coveted event and the 22nd Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards® will be announced at a later date.
The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year recognizes musicians of Ibero-American heritage and honors their artistic achievements in the Latin music industry as well as their humanitarian efforts. Past honorees include Juanes (2019), Maná (2018), Alejandro Sanz (2017), Marc Anthony (2016), Roberto Carlos (2015), Joan Manuel Serrat (2014), Miguel Bosé (2013), Caetano Veloso (2012), Shakira (2011), Plácido Domingo (2010), Juan Gabriel (2009), Gloria Estefan (2008), Juan Luis Guerra (2007), Ricky Martin (2006), José José (2005), Carlos Santana (2004), Gilberto Gil (2003), Vicente Fernández (2002), Julio Iglesias (2001) and Emilio Estefan (2000).
Net proceeds from the Latin Academy Person of the Year gala will go toward the charitable work of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation.