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Billboard Latin Women in Music 2024: Tears, Gratitude, Family & Gloria Estefan

Tears, parents, emotional performances and lots of gratitude and respect for Gloria Estefan marked Billboard’s second annual Latin Women In Music gala on June 9 in Miami.

Produced by Telemundo, the show, which aired Sunday night, honored revered icons of Latin music like Gloria Estefan (the Legend Award), salsa Legend La India (the Pioneer Award) and Mexican Powerhouse Ana Bárbara (Lifetime Achievement), as well as Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Kany García (Spirit of Change), Mexican prodigy Ángela Aguilar (Musical Dynasty), Colombian chart topper Kali Uchis (Rising Star) and this month’s Billboard cover star, Camila Cabello (Global Impact).

The show was pre-taped at Telemundo’s studios (with production headed by Cisco Suárez and Macarena Moreno) in Miami, and perhaps the smaller setting, combined with fully live performances, gave the evening a sense of intimacy, collegiality and love — corny as that may sound — that is not usually felt at big award shows.

“It’s an honor to honor someone who writes her own story,” said Mexican star María José early in the evening as she presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. “Ana Bárbara is an example of someone who does not put brakes on herself. I identify with that strength and determination with which she has chosen to be an artist, but above all, the woman she is.”

It was an assessment that could have well applied to all the honorees in the room, all pioneers in their own right. Even Angela Aguilar, the youngest among them, at 20 years old, and the daughter and granddaughter of legends — Pepe Aguilar, Antonio Aguilar, Flor Silvestre — said as much: “In between this great legacy and this great last name, I’m still trying to find who I am.”

It was uncommon honesty expressed again and again throughout the evening, by the “newer” artists, but also the veterans. La India, emotional as a singer and as a speaker, belted “Ese Hombre” and her classic “Vivir Lo Nuestro,” then shed tears as she thanked her icons — the late Celia Cruz and the living Gloria Estefan — and acknowledged that artists have ups and downs. Ana Bárbara, the first honoree of the night, admitted that when she had first visited Miami, many, many years ago, her dream was to meet Estefan, the great door-opening star that was honored with the Legend award, and who sat through the entire evening cheering her colleagues on.

The sentiment was echoed by García, who said: “I love being among all these women I so admire. The first award show I ever went to in my life, they honored Gloria Estefan, and to see her seated here is one of the most beautiful things in the world.”

Parents were also a recurring theme of the evening. Camila Cabello devoted most of her speech to her mother: “When the world is suffering […] my mom reminds me there is love in this world. I love you, mom. And I love you, Gloria Estefan.”

In the other direction, Aguilar received warm words from her dad, Pepe Aguilar, who sent her a video from Japan, where he is currently.

And at the close of the evening, the Woman of the Year award for Karol G — honored in absentia because she was kicking off her European tour the same evening — was picked up by her father, Guillermo Giraldo.

“Thank you, Billboard, thank you, Telemundo, for opening the door to this little girl who at five years old sang backup for this artist [Giraldo himself is an artist] who wasn’t successful, but who today picks up her recognition as Woman of the Year.”

The evening, after all, was a celebration of doors opening, as Billboard extends its Woman of the Year franchise to the Latin realm.

“Thank you, Billboard, for doing this for women,” said Ana Bárbara receiving her award. “We have many barriers to tear down yet, but we’re doing well.”

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