No, Juanes isn’t on tour. But as he wins prizes, plays concerts and makes humanitarian gestures, the Colombian rock star is living the life of a globe-trotter. This week, he will be honored at the BMI Latin Awards in Las Vegas with the organization’s President’s Award.
Last month, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists honored Juanes with an award for excellence in media and entertainment, and the Spanish-language artist received it from Tony Bennett, who called Juanes his “soul brother and friend.”
“The reason why I love Juanes is that he cares for humanity,” Bennett said as he spoke about the rock star’s work as a singer and activist through such efforts as his Colombian-based foundation, Mi Sangre, and independent initiatives such as the “Peace Without Borders” concert in Cuba. “I wish him nothing but the best.”
Juanes, for his part, spoke humbly about how during recording sessions with the legendary crooner about three years ago he asked Bennett how to sing well. The singer gave him a generous gift — an old, black cassette with the vocal exercises he relied on years ago to warm up his voice — which Juanes says he has used ever since.
AP: You seriously listen to Tony Bennett’s cassette regularly?
Juanes: (Laughing) Not the cassette, I copied it to digital to preserve it, I have it on my computer and yes, of course, I use it a lot.
AP: You just finished recording a song for an album by Herbie Hancock. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Juanes: It was wonderful. We were recording “La Tierra,” a song of mine from about 15 or 16 years ago, for “The Imagine Project,” an album focused on peace, ecology, respect and coexistence.
AP: You weren’t able to record the Spanish version of “We Are the World” with the other participants, but we’ve heard that you still did your part.
Juanes: Yes, I couldn’t be there, but last (month) I was in the studio and I recorded three lines for the song, “Somos el mundo.” I think it’s the least we can do. Now all that’s missing is people who will support it and buy it and put it on the radio. Each time the song plays on the radio, a few cents from each dollar will go toward the Michael Jackson Foundation for Haiti.
AP: You’re also going to participate in a concert with Juan Luis Guerra for the same cause in the Dominican Republic, on April 18. What can you tell us about it?
Juanes: One band will back all the artists. It hasn’t been settled yet, but I think each person will play three songs each. I know that Alejandro Sanz, Luis Fonsi,Miguel Bose will be there.
AP: It sounds like another “Peace Without Borders” concert.
Juanes: (Laughing) Yes, it looks like it.
AP: How is (new son) Dante doing?
Juanes: He’s divine, he’s 5 months old and he’s crazy. It’s a different kind of love. … With girls it’s always been incredible, but having a boy is crazy. Now he’s a great complement. The girls (Paloma and Luna, ages 6 and 4) welcomed him, my wife (Karen) loves him more than me (laughs). We’re very happy, very committed to our family.
AP: You’re traveling to London to record your next album. Do you have everything ready?
Juanes: I’m going to record between London, Miami and Medellin (in Colombia) with a British producer, Stephen Lipson. I’m finishing writing the words. We have 17 or 18 songs that we’ve chosen and 25 or 30 that I’ve written. We don’t know how many we’ll record, with the way the industry is going, but that’s what we have.
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