The new release from Juanes marks a departure for the Colombian pop star. The all-acoustic album was recorded in front of a live Miami audience for MTV Unplugged.
Born Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez, Juanes — who appears Friday and Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and conductor Thomas Wilkins — has been one of Latin America’s most popular young musicians for the past two decades. His first four albums topped music charts. He has won a Grammy Award and 17 Latin Grammys.
Juanes has also sung for huge crowds around the world: a concert for peace in Havana, a World Cup kickoff, even a Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. He founded an organization for victims of landmines. He married a beautiful model and actress and they have three gorgeous children. But even with so much going for him, the artist says he recently found himself at a crossroads.
“To be honest, I was feeling a little bit tired, a little bit sick of myself and depressed,” Juanes says. “I was not enjoying the process. So I decided to make a little stop in my career and just rethink everything.”
That was last year. Not long after, MTV’s Spanish-language channel, Tr3s, asked him to do an Unplugged session. Juanes says he embraced it as an opportunity to take a breather and recenter himself.
To help with that process, he turned to one of his heroes, Juan Luis Guerra. In the 1990s, the singer and songwriter was considered the Dominican Republic’s premier poet and musician.
“He’s one of the most incredible musicians from South America,” Juanes says. “He’s like a legend, like another Beatle member. He’s like, wow!”