February 2, 2001

Premio Lo Nuestro A La Musica Latina Announces This Year's Special Honorees

MIAMI, FL - Mexican singer/songwriter Joan Sebastian, whose musical versatility and poetic style have made him one of Mexico's most popular contemporary artists, will receive the prestigious Premio a la Excelencia, or Lifetime Achievement Award, at this year's annual Premio Lo Nuestro A La Música Latina, Spanish-language Univision Network announced.

Two other important figures of the Latin music world also will be honored that evening by the network, one of them posthumously. They are, Puerto Rican pop idol Chayanne, a breathtaking performer who often uses three helicopters to enter and exit his arena shows throughout the world, and legendary Argentine star Libertad Lamarque, whose passing last December at the age of 92, marked the end of a long and glorious musical career that spanned eight decades. Chayanne will receive the 2001 Jóvenes Con Legado (Youthful Legacy) award, in recognition of his 22-year artistic career, while Lamarque will receive a special tribute.

With an extraordinary 32 records to his name, Sebastian is known to most of his countrymen both as "El Poeta del Pueblo," (The People's Poet) and "El Rey del Jaripeo" (The Rodeo King). His lyrics are a staple of Mexican popular culture, and have been interpreted by numerous big-name artists, including Rocío Durcal, José Aguilar, Los Joao and Grupo Mojado. In 1995, Sebastian's popularity soared when he landed a leading role in the television series, Tú y Yo (You and I), and last year, he made the Top 10 list of Billboard Magazine's Hot Latin Tracks with his hit single, "Secreto de Amor," (Love Secret). In 1999, tragedy entered Sebastian's life when he found out he had inoperable cancer. Still, the devastating diagnosis has not stopped this talented artist from pressing ahead with his prolific career.

While Sebastian's poetic lyrics continue to inspire fans throughout Latin America, Chayanne's electrifying performances, charisma and extraordinary good looks have taken the entire world by storm. This Puerto Rican-born dynamo, who began his career at the age of 10 as a member of a Menudo-type group called, "Los Chicos," fills theaters and stadiums from New York to Sydney, Australia and from Buenos Aires to Tokyo, Japan. It is a career that undoubtedly has withstood the test of time, and includes 14 albums/CDs, five with Los Chicos and nine as a solo performer.

The road has been long and rewarding for this charming personality who made history in 1989 by appearing in the first Spanish-language commercial on American network television, for Pepsi. Three years earlier, upon turning 17, Chayanne had moved to Mexico and begun a solo career which, besides his albums, has produced five major soap opera roles, numerous videos and commercials, and a starring role, alongside Vanessa Williams, in the critically acclaimed Hollywood movie, "Dance With Me." Over the years, that career has also won Chayanne 13 top 10 hits on the Latin Billboard charts and positioned him to become one of the newest Latin crossover success stories.

Chayanne's youthful beginnings were shared by co-honoree Lamarque, whose legendary career as, "La Novia de America," (America's Bride) began in earnest in Buenos Aires at the tender age of 13.

Born November 24, 1908 in Rosario, Argentina, Ms. Lamarque entered the theater in 1922, and by age 18 had recorded her first tango LP. The record was an instant success. Twenty-three years later, by 1945, she was widely hailed and respected throughout the world as an accomplished dramatic actress and singer of tangos, boleros and Latin folk songs.

Despite a painful exile during the mid- 1950s, provoked by former rival and then-Argentine First Lady, Eva "Evita" Perón, Ms. Lamarque's career never once waned. From Argentina, she moved to Mexico, where in the course of several years, she filmed 43 movies. In all, throughout her long and fruitful life, Ms. Lamarque filmed a total of 65 movies (21 in Argentina and one in Spain) and six soap operas, recorded more than 800 songs, and participated in hundreds of musical plays and other stage presentations. In 1996, she moved to Miami, where she lived until her death last month.

Univision, which has produced the gala musical event for the past 12 years, will broadcast the show live from Miami's James L. Knight Convention Center Thursday, Feb. 8, 8-11 pm/7-10 pm Central.

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