October 02, 2000 12:00 PM

We Latins not only make great music,” proclaimed cohost Jimmy Smits at the Latin Grammy Awards on Sept. 13 in L.A., “we look good doing it!” Looking good—and celebrating—were as much a part of the ceremony as the awards themselves, which honored 40 categories of Spanish-language artists. “I am very proud and happy for my people,” exulted Colombian songstress Shakira, who took home two awards. A gleeful Celia Cruz put it even more succinctly upon winning for best salsa performance: “¡Azúcar!” (Loosely translated: Sweet!)

Indeed, non-Spanish speakers may have felt a little lost during the inaugural awards show, much of which was en español. Still, the show’s Latin pride needed no translation. “This evening,” declared percussionist Sheila E., “has been a long time coming.”

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