The Bronx native, who appeared donning a white blazer with black baggy but classy slacks, began his performance crooning the slinky song “Me EnRD.” He was soon joined by two generational talents: Dominican bachata trailblazer Zacarías Ferreíra and rising Colombian artist Manuel Turizo.
The song then transitioned to the “Stand By Me” cover that made Prince Royce a star. The oldies but goodies song became an example of how music from different genres can get the bachata treatment and sound beautiful, which Royce helped do. “This song is very special to me, the song that started it all,” said the honorary artist. Turizo helped provide a great doo-wop vocal beat, while Ferreíra lent his dolce vocals to the song.
“Prince, brother, in my house, in Colombia, not only in Colombia, but for all of us Latinos — and for my career — you were a great influence for me to start listening to bachata, for me to love bachata. So it’s an honor to be here with you singing this song,” Turizo told Royce as he handed him the Pioneer award.
Turizo’s own first-ever bachata song “La Bachata” (2022) peaked at No. 1 on the Tropical Airplay chart. “I’ve been a big fan of the genre since I was little, and that’s what motivated me to release a bachata,” he previously told Billboard of the hit. “It’s definitely the first song I do in this genre, but it won’t be the last one. More bachata songs will come, with the favor of God and in due time.”
“First of all I want to thank Zacarías Ferreíra and Manuel Turizo for being with me at this moment. Zacarías is a person who has inspired me a lot, Manuel for representing bachata in your own way,” said Royce upon receiving his award.
Ferreíra, who rose to fame in the late ‘90s, early ‘00s, was one of the first international exporters of the century-old Dominican style from the island.
“I started with few resources and it was difficult but I never gave up. Back then, it was just a dream. Many people said criticisms, that it was bachata lite, bachata pop — [but] it was a bachata that really reached the whole world. It became international, and to be part of that growth for me is an honor to represent my culture. It is impressive how this genre has grown a lot. I never imagined this growth,” said Royce.
Nominations for the 2023 awards — based on streaming, sales, radio airplay, tours and even social media interactions data provided by Billboard and Luminate during the eligibility period (Feb. 12, 2022, through Feb. 4, 2023) — are led by Bad Bunny with 11 nominations. He’s followed by Becky G and Daddy Yankee, each with nine nominations. For the first time since its debut on Oct. 8, 2015, the ceremony — which is taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas — will be broadcast live simultaneously on Univision, UNIMÁS, and Galavisión.