Ricky Martin (R) speaks with Marc Anthony during the show for the 2016 Latin GRAMMY’s Person Of The Year honoring Marc Anthony at the MGM Grand on November 16, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. / AFP PHOTO / Valerie MACON
Marc Anthony, who decided at age seven to be a singer and has gone on to sell 12 million records, was honored Wednesday at the Latin Grammys — and celebrated by bringing the crowd to its feet.
The Latin Grammys named the 48-year-old salsa singer its Person of the Year in recognition of his lifetime achievement and threw a gala for him on the eve of the main award ceremony in Las Vegas.
No fewer than 22 artists took to the stage to hail the successes of Anthony, whose voice cracked with emotion as his eyes watered.
“From the bottom of my heart, I tell you, my colleagues and friends, that we have lived through so many things over the past 30 years,” he said.
“To be up here with so many people that I admire is an honor and a pleasure and I feel more alive than ever,” he said.
“They told me I didn’t have to speak,” he said. “I want to sing — that’s my thing.”
And that is what he did, grabbing the microphone and leading a crowd of 1,400 — including some of the greatest names in Latin music — in dancing, starting with his song “Vivir Mi Vida,” a cover of a track by Algerian singer Khaled.
Anthony, born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, joins a list of top Latin stars to be honored as Person of the Year. Previous winners include Roberto Carlos, Juan Manuel Serrat and Shakira.
Ricky Martin presented the award to Anthony, recalling how his fellow Puerto Rican artist came to Florida to produce Menudo, the boy band that launched Martin’s career.
“Ever since then there has been a chemistry,” Martin said. “I still take with me to the studio everything that you taught me — your passion, your honesty and your delivery.”
Stars who took to the stage included Laura Pausini and Carlos Vives who together sang “El Cantante” by Hector Lavoe, the late salsa singer whom Anthony played on the big screen.
Anthony’s father named him after the Mexican singing great Marco Antonio Muniz, leading the younger star to change his name to avoid confusion.
At age seven, he asked to go to a music school in East Harlem and in 1992, after recording his first album, scored a break as he opened for Tito Puente at Madison Square Garden.
“I never thought I was going to be singing in Spanish,” he said.
Anthony, who has won seven mainstream Grammys, is also known to the general public as the ex-husband of Jennifer Lopez.