J Balvin to open Grammy Awards on Sunday

The Colombian reggaeton artist was Spotify’s No. 1 globally streamed Latin artist of 2018, and the fourth most overall.
Image: J Balvin
J Balvin accepts the Latin Grammy for Best Urban Music Album for "Vibras" in Las Vegas in November.David Becker / Getty Images file

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By Gwen Aviles

J Balvin probably planned on attending the 61st Grammy Awards on Sunday anyway; after all, the Colombian reggaeton artist is up for Record of the Year for his appearance on “I Like It” with Cardi B and Bad Bunny. Now he has another reason to attend.

The Recording Academy announced Tuesday that Balvin will join fellow music sensations Camila Cabello, Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval and Young Thug as they open the awards show in Los Angeles.

Balvin, a two-time Latin Grammy Award winner, released his fifth album, “Vibras,” in May and has effectively redefined how Latin artists cross over to the mainstream U.S. music scene.

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Balvin was Spotify’s No. 1 globally streamed Latin artist of 2018, and the fourth most overall. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified “Vibras” as the top Latin album released in 2018, and Rolling Stone magazine named it the best Latin album of the year.

In the past, Latin artists such as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira achieved crossover success by recording English-language albums. But “Vibras” is entirely in Spanish, showing that Latin artists performing in their first language could be just as popular with English-speaking audiences.

"We are defining a new mainstream," Balvin told NBC News in an interview last year.

The album’s first single "Mi Gente," topped the Billboard Hot Latin songs chart and surpassed 1.8 billion YouTube views.

Blue Ivy, the 6-year-old daughter of Jay-Z and Beyoncé, reportedly loved listening to "Mi Gente," which motivated Beyoncé to jump into the song’s remix, Balvin told NBC News. The remix hit the third spot on the Hot 100 list.

On Jan. 31, Balvin became Guess’ first male Latino lead with his “Vibras” clothing collection, which he designed and is already in stores.

He also will be performing at Coachella in April.

“Who would have thought that somebody Latino was going to be singing with Beyoncé at Coachella? ... Nobody,” Balvin noted to NBC News last year. “But I did believe in me. So that’s what I want to do: keep inspiring people as much as possible.”

The 2019 Grammy Awards will air on Sunday, Feb. 10.

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