I live in Colombia and I blog, so I must blog about Juanes.
Juanes is a Colombian musician who’s sold over ten million albums and won a record 17 Latin Grammy awards. He’s widely considered the most successful Latin musician of his generation. TIME Magazine selected Juanes as one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2005.
Few listen to Juanes in Colombia. Colombians listen to salsa, vallenato, reggaeton, and gringo music. But Juanes appeals to Latin rock fans worldwide, which there are a lot of. I first heard of him when I worked for Anheuser-Busch and he was the face figure of the Bud Light brand in Latin markets (think Dale Earnhardt for Budweiser in the South and Midwest).
Juanes was born a paisa in Medellin, Colombia. He learned to play guitar at seven years old. He was influenced by Metallica and joined the heavy metal group, Ekhymosis. Ekhymosis had a strong following in Colombia, as did heavy metal. Living in Colombia feels like America in the 80s. A lot of people wear black leather jackets with long, dark hair.
I’ve tried to explain to Latinos that rock en español is shit, and Latinos should stick to cumbia and salsa. They always get a resentful look. I don’t try to make that point anymore, but imagine if gringos tried to do salsa in English.
Juanes went solo in 1998. His debut album in 2000, Fijate Bien received seven Latin Grammy nominations and won four, including Best New Artist. In 2002 Juanes released Un Día Normal, which won five Latin Grammy awards including Album of the Year and Song of the Year. In 2004 Juanes released his third solo album, Mi Sangre, which fetched three more Latin Grammys, bringing his total to twelve and tying Alejandro Sanz for the highest number of Latin Grammy awards. In 2007 Juanes released La Vida … Es Un Ratico, which one five more Latin Grammys and established the new record at seventeen.
Juanes sings in Spanish (as opposed to fellow Colombian, Shakira) and incorporates the traditional Latin music he learned as a kid. He’s often compared to Sting, Bono, and Bruce Springsteen for his emotional, romantic, and socially-conscious (and corny) music. Quincy Jones said of Juanes, “He is an artist whose music comes straight from the genuine spirit of his soul and, because of that, an artist that I think more and more of the world will embrace.”
Before releasing Un Dia Normal he released the lead single, “A Dios Le Pido,” which became an anthem throughout Latin America, winning the Latin Grammy for Best Rock Song in 2002. Juanes’ Mi Sangre won L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres – France’s highest cultural award – and spearheaded Juanes’ nomination to TIME Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people.
Juanes founded the Mi Sangre Foundation as a non-profit organization to combat the use of anti-personnel mines. Anti-personnel mines aim not to kill so much as to wound so many that it impedes logistical support by overwhelming medical units. Colombia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The foundation estimates that three Colombians are killed every day. 40% of the casualties are civilians and half of those are children under the age of 14.
Juanes and his wife, Colombian model Karen Martinez, have two children. See Juanes’ website.
Cuban-Americans threaten Juanes for his concert in Havana, Cuba.
A dios le Pido
La camisa negra
Un día normal
Fotografía ft. Nelly Furtado
“La Tierra” by Ekhymosis
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