Berklee Alumnus Wins Latin Grammy for "Despacito"

Tori Donahue
November 17, 2017
Press release
Image courtesy Luis Saldarriaga

A Berklee College of Music graduate walked away from the 18th annual Latin Grammy Awards with a gold-plated gramophone trophy on Thursday, November 16. Luis Saldarriaga B.M. '14, recording engineer for this summer’s megahit song “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee, won the Latin Grammy when “Despacito” took home Record of the Year honors.

Watch an interview with Saldarriaga about "Despacito" and his other work:

This year, thirteen Berklee alumni received as many Latin Grammy Award nominations for producing, mixing, engineering, songwriting, and performing across six categories.

“Despacito,” which also won Latin Grammys for Song of the Year, Best Urban Fusion/Performance, and Best Short Form Music Video; it is the most-watched YouTube video of all time with 4.3 billion views. Berklee alumni currently have a variety of roles in the top five most-viewed YouTube videos. Charlie Puth B.M. ’13 performed on the second most-viewed video, “See You Again,” by Wiz Khalifa, and 2000 alumnus Psy’s “Gangnam Style” sits in third. Justin Tranter '01 wrote Justin Bieber's "Sorry," which is in the fourth spot with 2.8 billion views, and the No. 5 video, Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" (featuring Bruno Mars) was produced by Jeff Bhasker '99 and engineered and mixed by Josh Blair B.M. '99.

Among the night's other Latin Grammy winners was Michel Camilo, who recently created a scholarship for a student from the Dominican Republic to attend Berklee. Camilo won the Latin Grammy for Best Instrumental Album, along with Tomatito, for Spain Forever. Berklee honorary doctorate recipient Alejandro Sanz '13H also won the Person of the Year award at the ceremony; Sanz previously performed with Berklee students at the Latin Grammys in 2013, and dedicated his award to "DREAMers" (those who entered the United States as minors and seek the opportunity to remain in the U.S. to pursue education and careers).

Watch Sanz and students perform at the 2013 Latin Grammys:

Since the Latin Recording Academy (formerly the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) founded the awards in 2000, 33 Berklee alumni or faculty have received 89 Latin Grammy Awards, in addition to 275 Grammy Awards.