Born Juan Esteban Aristizabal in 1974 in Colombia. Addresses: Record company--Universal Music and Video, 5713 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90042.
Juanes, born Juan Esteban Aristizabal, received seven Latin Grammy Award nominations in 2001, taking home a total of three awards--for Best New Artist, Best Rock Solo Vocal Album, and Best Rock Song. Playing in a mixture of styles he described to Ramiro Burr in the San Antonio Express-News as a "fusion of rock with folklore, R&B, hip-hop and funk," Juanes has captured the hearts of legions of Spanish-speaking fans around the world. In 2002 he won his fourth Latin Grammy for the song "A Dios le Pido."
Juanes was born in 1974 in rural Colombia. His parents were farmers, and Juanes grew up listening to such traditional Colombian music as vallenato and salsa. When his older brothers taught him how to play guitar, he decided to become a professional musician. At the age of 14 he discovered the hard rock music of bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Metallica, a blend of influences continues to inform his music today. He told Burr that when he discovered hard rock and heavy metal, "I felt a lot of strength when I heard that music. I didn't understand the lyrics, but I liked the sound of the guitars and the strength they transmitted." Juanes has since expanded his musical palette, which now includes Colombian folk music, hard rock, R&B, and hip-hop, which he first heard in Los Angeles.
Juanes began his music career in Colombia, putting together a rock band called Ekhymosis that consisted of Juanes on guitar and vocals, Andres Garcia on bass, along with two other musicians. Based in Medellin, Ekhymosis enjoyed moderate success, playing a funk, rock, and flamenco fusion. The group disbanded in 1998, leaving Juanes to pursue his music career on his own.
Soon after the band's breakup, Juanes moved to the United States looking for broader success. The move paid off when he met Argentinean musician and producer Gustavo Santaolalla in Los Angeles. Santaolalla was impressed by the demo tape Juanes sent him, and he eventually agreed to help him cut his first solo album.
With Santaolalla's help, Juanes recorded Fijate Bien. The album, released in 2000 on the Universal/Surco label, featured a mix of styles, including vallenato, salsa, funk, and rock. It sold only moderately well in the months following its release, but it also picked up a total of seven Latin Grammy nominations. Juanes ultimately took home three Latin awards for his work on the album--those for Best New Artist, Best Rock Solo Vocal Album, and Best Rock Song. He also performed at the Grammy Awards ceremony, which was broadcast across the United States on the CBS television network.
Juanes's Grammys and his spirited performance at the ceremony introduced him to a wider audience, and sales of his album picked up immediately. The album hit the Billboard Latin charts, climbed to number 15 on the Latin pop charts, and reached number 36 on the top Latin albums chart. It also earned Juanes an American Grammy nomination for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album. Buoyed by this success, Juanes followed Fijate Bien with Un Día Normal in 2002. His goal for the new album was to put his best foot forward musically, without being distracted by the success of his first album, and he spent nearly a year writing the songs for it.
A major theme in Juanes's music was the civil war then raging in his native Colombia, exemplified by the first single from Un Día Normal, "A Dios le Pido." This song, which celebrates living life fully in spite of its difficulties, struck a chord among Colombian listeners, as did the video, in which a couple walks through a hail of bullets to embrace. It stayed in the number-one spot on the Colombian charts for seven weeks, and won Juanes his fourth Latin Grammy. It also became a number-one hit song in many countries in South and Central America and in Spain.
Unlike Fijate Bien, which recounts life's painful aspects, Un Día Normal celebrates its joys. As Juanes told Burr in the Houston Chronicle, "When I wrote Fijate Bien, I was going through a darker period of my life. My love life and my life in general were different. This record is more tranquil.... I wanted to use this record to sing to life and love, and be more optimistic." Produced by Santaolalla on the Universal label, Un Día Normal was released to wide acclaim. It grabbed the number-one spot on four Billboard charts, including the heatseekers, Latin pop, and Latin pop airplay. Critics praised the release for its skillful blend of traditional Colombian sounds and contemporary rock.
Juanes marveled at the path his career had taken since the release of his first album, telling Ramiro Burr in the San Antonio Express-News, "These two years have been very crazy but very good too. This is what I've spent 15 years working for." Although his passion and commitment to music was unchanged, he now found himself in front of larger audiences, traveling extensively, and meeting many more people, all of which he enjoyed.
After touring North America, South America, and Spain to promote Un Día Normal, Juanes spent 2003 writing his next album, which was scheduled for recording in the fall of 2003 and tentative release in early 2004. In between writing, performing, and recording, Juanes makes time in his schedule for frequent trips to Colombia to visit his family and his hometown. He maintains an apartment in Bogotá, and he has moved his American residence from Los Angeles to Miami. "I love Colombia," he told Elysa Gardner in USA Today. "Whenever I'm away for more than one or two months, I need to go back."
by Michael Belfiore
Founded the band Ekhymosis in Medellin, Colombia, 1990s; disbanded Ekhymosis and relocated to Los Angeles, CA, to pursue a recording career, 1990s; met producer Gustavo Santaolalla, who produced Juanes's first solo album, Fijate Bien, on the Universal label, 2000; released Un Día Normal, 2002.
Latin Grammy Award, Best New Artist, Best Rock Solo Vocal Album for Fijate Bien, Best Rock Song for "Fijate Bien," 2001, and Best Rock Song for "A Dios le Pido," 2002.
September 3, 2003: Juanes won five Latin Grammy Awards, including album of the year for Un Dia Normal (A Normal Day), record of the year and song of the year for "Es Por Ti" (It's For You), best rock solo album and best rock song for "Mala Gente." Source: Yahoo! News, story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=529&ncid=529&e=1&u=/ap/20030904/ap_en_mu/music_latin_grammys, September 4, 2003.
November 3, 2005: Juanes won three Latin Grammy awards, including best music video for "Volverte a Ver," best rock song for "Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor," and best rock solo vocal album for Mi Sangre. Source: CNN.com, www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Music/11/04/latin.grammys.list.ap/index.html, November 10, 2005.
April 27, 2006: Juanes won three Billboard Latin music awards, including Latin pop airplay song of the year, male, for "La Camisa Negra," songwriter of the year, and hot Latin songs artist of the year. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bbcom/awards/index.jsp, April 30, 2006.
- Houston Chronicle, June 16, 2002, Zest section, p.7; December 14, 2002, Houston section, p. 9.
- San Antonio Express-News, October 31, 2001, p. 2A; December 13, 2002, p. 15H; March 17, 2002, p. 5H.
- USA Today, September 10, 2001, p. 4D.
- Washington Post, September 24, 2002, p. C1.
- "Colombia," New Grove Dictionary of Music, http://www.grovemusic.com (April 1, 2003).
- "Gustavo Santaolalla," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (April 1, 2003).
- "Juanes," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 18, 2003).