If there's one artist who has perfectly blended Latin rhythms with an international pop-rock sound, it's Juanes. The Colombian, with his armful of tattoos and ravishing smile, has succeeded in creating a globalized music without denying his roots.
With his emblematic titles, A Dios le Pido and La Camisa Negra, he has taken the whole planet on a tenacious feel-good ride. But to those who would relegate him to the rank of singer for lovesick teenagers, the artist has proved that he is much more than that.
Because Juanes, surprising as it may seem, got into music through metal and hard rock. A few years' experience in the bars of Medellin gave him a flair for the stage. As well as the raw emotions that even a non-Spanish-speaking audience can feel through his sensitive performances.
And while he may appear smooth on the surface, Juanes has a depth that comes from the dark years of his country, when Colombia was still one of the most violent countries on the planet.
Love rubs shoulders with darkness in lyrics that become universal, where the artist carries passion at arm's length, as well as his messages of peace, a cause for which he is regularly involved. And while on our side of the Atlantic, his subsequent career has made less of a splash, on our American side of the Atlantic, it has not.
Juanes, guitar slung over his shoulder and warmth in his voice, is still an artist who carries the colors of his country high, sometimes even on a par with a certain Shakira.
The fusion of gentle, eclectic sounds, folk, tango, bolero and pop-rock, always sprinkled with Hispanic rhythms, continues to take the world by storm, and the artist, now in his forties, delivers an infectious energy and an unflagging desire on stage.
With over 16 million records sold, dozens of Latin Grammys and three Grammies Awards, the latest in 2022, Colombia's most famous artist still has plenty to share.
It was with his father and brothers that young Juan learned to play guitar to the rhythms of traditional South American music. But it wasn't long before Juanes broke away from this to join Ekhymosis and play good old-fashioned hard rock. Within seven years, his band had become one of the best-known in his native country. But the young Colombian dreamed of greatness and a different, more universal music. In 1999, he left his band and moved to Los Angeles.
After a year of hard times, Juanes was spotted by the famous Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla, who decided to produce his first solo album, Fijate Bien. A mix of salsa, funk and rock, it was a hit from the first notes and spent 10 weeks on the Colombian charts before invading the whole of South America. The following year, the artist repeated the feat with Un Dia Normal and his hit A Dios le Pido, which became an anthem for peace throughout America. In 2004, he completed his conquest of the world with a dazzling breakthrough in Europe. From Spain to Sweden, everyone danced to La Camisa Negra, from his third album, Mi Sangre, in 2004. It was a global success.
After Nirvana, Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill, the Colombian star is invited into the intimate studio of MTV Unplugged. Juanes delivers a warm acoustic performance, from which her first live album will be taken, directly nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Latino Pop Album category. And while the artist may have fallen off the radar a little in Europe, he continues to be a huge hit in the United States and throughout Latin America.
In his forties, Juanes decided to look back a little and released Origen, a compilation of covers, mostly in Spanish, of songs that have inspired him throughout his career. From Bob Marley to Bruce Springsteen, he lays his melodies and gentle touch on the songs that often lulled his childhood. "It was the only thing you could hear from the bar, and my brothers and sisters listened to it at home," says the artist, whose colorful new album has earned him his third Grammy Award.
I've rarely attended such a festive concert. Throughout the evening, the audience danced and sang with smiles on their faces. And even if you don't speak Spanish, Juanes' music is a language in its own right. You don't need to understand it to enjoy its energy, passion and catchy rhythms!
Juanes is truly a unique artist, the only one who has succeeded in blending traditional Colombian melodies with pop-rock that speaks to all, to create a universal music. With generosity as his banner, he takes his messages of love and peace to stages all over the world, lighting up his audiences with his frank smiles, his danceable music and his positive, highly communicative energy.
With such a rich career, it's clear that Juanes has left her mark on the music world. In fact, his dedication to promoting his Latin-sounding music has won him several Grammy Awards. In 2009, 2013 and 2022, he won in the Best Latin Pop Album category. All of which makes him particularly proud of the work he's accomplished over the years.