x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Latin pop star goes classical in Hollywood

Juanes and his group perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the city's youth orchestra for disadvantaged children.

Colombian musician Juanes rehearses with the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California. Joe Klamar / AFP
Colombian musician Juanes rehearses with the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California. Joe Klamar / AFP

The Colombian megastar Juanes, whose hit La Camisa Negra topped charts around the world, tried his hand at classical music for the first time last week at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Juanes and his group combined forces with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the city's youth orchestra for disadvantaged children.

"I've never played on stage with a symphony orchestra," said Juanes, who has sold more than 15 million records and racked up more than a dozen awards over two decades.

For the 40-year-old father of three, who has announced plans to slow down the frenetic pace of his career, the concert is also a chance to go back to the city that launched him to stardom. Juanes moved to Los Angeles in 1998 and stayed for two years. "It was a very difficult period because I didn't have money or a record deal," he recalled. But before long, Juanes met Gustavo Santaolalla, the Argentine musician and producer, who first signed him.

Juanes said music was his life raft. "Art transformed my life in an incredible way," he said. "I began to play very young, and I was living in Medellin in the 1980s and 1990s, a very difficult era in Colombia. I believe that music saved me because I could have taken very different paths."

Today, even if he is still uncertain about his career's new direction, Juanes is sure of one thing: he can't live without music, without "this joy of singing, playing the guitar, putting on concerts and connecting with the public".

"I don't sing for money or glory, but because I am convinced that, for me, music is utterly fundamental."