Powerhouse producer and musician Emilio Estefan was the very first person to ever receive the Billboard Latin Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. For a short period of time (1995-1998), the award’s name was changed to El Premio Billboard and was awarded to Tito Puente, José Feliciano, Herb Alpert and Ralph Mercado. In 1999, it returned as the Lifetime Achievement Award and was given to norteño artist Leonardo “Flaco” Jiménez.
Since, the tradition has remained and over the years, renowned and chart-topping Latin artists such Armando Manzanero, Marco Antonio Solís, Miguel Bosé, Emmanuel, José José, Santana, Juan Luis Guerra, among many others, have gone on to receive the prestigious accolade.
The Billboard Latin Music Lifetime Achievement Award is an honor that is presented by Billboard to an artist or a group who’s had an “enduring and exceptional career, encompassing artistic and personal contributions that have had a major impact on Latin music worldwide.”
Last year, the honoree was Mexican songstress Paquita la del Barrio who kept her acceptance speech short during the 2021 Billboard Latin Music Awards. “Thank you for taking me into consideration and for distinguishing me with this honor,” she said after being escorted onstage by none other than Bad Bunny. “I have so many things I could say but I prefer to simply thank you for the love.”
It was announced that the iconic Spanish singer Raphael will join the elite list of artists who have been awarded with the special honor. With a musical career that spans more than 60 years, Raphael — known for anthemic songs such as “Yo Soy Aquel,” “En Carne Viva” and “Mi Gran Noche” — has garnered worldwide recognition as a pioneer of Spanish-language romantic ballads. In 1962, he began his professional career, where he earned each of the top three prizes at Spain’s Festival Internacional de la Canción in Benidor over the years.
Like Raphael, all of the previous honorees have made a significant contribution to Latin music. In honor of the upcoming 2022 Billboard Latin Music Awards show and Raphael’s upcoming special award, here are all the Billboard Latin Music Lifetime Achievement Award recipients from over the years.