By: Fredwill Hernandez
As part of the weeklong 18th Annual Latin GRAMMY® Week festivities The Latin Recording Academy is recognizing women who have excelled in the arts and sciences, and who have made indelible impressions and contributions to the Latin entertainment industry during The Leading Ladies of Entertainment, [inaugural] ceremony sponsored by Walmart, Google, and Nielsen, held [today] Tues. – Nov. 14, at the iconic Mastro’s Ocean Club in the Crystal Mall in Las Vegas.
“It is my pleasure to welcome this new event to Latin GRAMMY Week, where we will have another opportunity to celebrate talented and inspiring individuals,” said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., Latin Recording Academy President/CEO, who was eager and excited to be welcoming the inaugural class as they arrived by taking photos with them. “Women face a myriad of difficulties in the entertainment industry, but despite those obstacles, the women we are honoring have continually demonstrated perseverance, fortitude, and grace under pressure.”
2017 Leading Ladies Inaugural Class Recipients Include: Marcella Araica, Recording/Mixing Engineer, Vice President N.A.R.S Records/Dream Asylum Studios; Leila Cobo, Executive Director of Content & Programming for Latin Music & Entertainment, Billboard; Erika Ender, Singer/Songwriter, Composer, Producer, and Television Personality ; Rebeca Leon, CEO and Founder of Lionfish Entertainment; Gabriela Martinez, General Manager Warner Music Latina & SVP Marketing Warner Music Latin America; and Jessica Rodriguez, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Univision Communications Inc.
Excelling and shinning in her field, Leon [ex VP of Latin Talent, AEG Live] shoot to fame after taking over AEG Presents/Goldenvoice [entire] Latin touring operation which she ran for 11 years, exiting in September of this year  to concentrate [fully] on Lionfish Entertainment, a joint venture [artists] management company she started with her client Colombian [pop/rock] singer/songwriter and multiple Latin Grammy winner Juanes, who she has been managing for the past 5 yrs. Leon along with Fabio Acosta also manage Colombian raggaetón superstar J Balvin. Among her many accolades and accomplishments she was also honored in 2015 with the AEG Chairman’s Award, as well as the TJ Martell Women of Influence Award [in 2016].
There’s no question that the ladies of the 2017 Inaugural class are fierce competitors and the best at what they do and what each one individually accomplishes [unintentionally] compliments the next. Two high caliber [female] names synonymous with songwriting in the Latin realm are Claudia Brant and [Erika] Ender.
During the 17th Annual Latin Grammy’s Ender became the first Panamanian female songwriter to win a Latin Grammy for Ataúd, a song she co-wrote with Manu Moreno and Mónica Vélez for Los Tigres Del Norte. Her gift and songwriting ability has been evident in over 160 albums, in three different languages Spanish , English and Portuguese. Earlier this year she was inducted into The Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is responsible for co-writing Luis Fonsi‘s mega-worldwide hit “Despacito,” featuring Daddy Yankee, which coincidently is nominated for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Urban Fusion/Performance at this year’s 18th Annual Latin Grammy’s. Her album “Tatuajes,” is also nominated under the Best Singer/Songwriter Album category at this year’s Latin Grammy’s.
The sentiment of recognizing women’s accomplishments in music [which] is long overdue is nothing new, Laura B Whitmore, known to her peers as fierce advocate for women in music who founded The Women’s International Music Network in November 2012, has been doing so since 2013 through WIMN’s She Rock Awards, a pioneering event of its kind held annually during the National Association of Music Merchants [NAMM] Show held at Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, Ca. In 2014, during the second annual She Rock Awards, percussionist extraordinaire Sheila E, [a Latina], and the daughter of famed percussionists Pete Escovedo was recognized with the SRA’s Icon Award.
“I am thrilled that the Latin Recording Academy is seeking out and recognizing female role models as part of Latin GRAMMY week. It is so important to shine a spotlight on diverse female pioneers so that others are inspired. In the past we have honored artists like Sheila E and Gaby Moreno at the She Rocks Awards, and we strive to create a platform to recognize women of all backgrounds and genres,” notes [Laura B.] Whitmore, founder of the Women’s International Music Network.
As to the Latin Recording Academy finally doing this?, “It’s better late than never, I feel very happy, It’s fantastic, I have to say I’m enjoying it. I was touched and caught by surprised when I was contacted, I thought I was being contacted to cover it not knowing I would also be part of the inaugural class,” expressed [Leila] Cobo, Executive Director of Content & Programming for Latin Music and Entertainment, Billboard, as she arrived. “Yes it’s a big deal, yes is very cool, when you cover the news you don’t expect to be part of the news, so it’s nice to see that the work has gotten recognized. I love all the other women who are being honored, some of them are good friends of mine so that makes me very happy to be in such good company.”
“This recognition is important, as there is a sizeable gender gap in the entertainment industry, which is even more pronounced for Latinas. Acknowledging this issue raises it to the top of public consciousness, and allows us to celebrate and learn from a diverse array of women who are leading and succeeding in their respective fields,” said Davina Aryeh, Chief Marketing Officer of The Latin Recording Academy, an industry trailblazer in her own right. “We want to empower and inspire women, not only through the symbolic importance of the event, where both men and women will be showing their support for this issue, but also through the tangible financial contribution it will have as we donate proceeds back to our Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation in the form of scholarships for young women interested in studying music.”
As for those who don’t know of me or about me, “I want them to know I’ve worked very hard and prepared myself for this,” added Cobo