Video by: Ignacio Torres
Juanes is currently experiencing a moment of true crossover stardom. His autobiography “Chasing the Sun” has just been released simultaneously in English and Spanish and the 40-year-old is still making waves with his 2012 album “Juanes MTV Unplugged,” an acoustic release which has cemented his reputation as a gifted artist and international superstar.
But even after all his tremendous successes – think 19 Latin Grammys, 2 Grammy Awards, numerous sold out concert tours and multi-platinum sales amounting to more than 16 million copies – Juanes doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge that the journey to international fame hasn’t been without its challenges; namely growing up amid the drug-related violence in his hometown of in Medellín, Colombia.
“I hope that the life I can give to my kids is better than the one I had. Of course, my life and my childhood was beautiful, but times were different, back then in Medellín during the end of the 70s and 80s,” says Juanes, who is married to model Karen Martinez, with whom he has three children. “I’m happy that I can see my kids growing up, happy, surrounded by music and a lot of love.”
Juanes has come a long way from his early rocker days, when he had shoulder length hair and wore denim cutoffs on tour as a guitarist with his schoolmates in the band Ekhymosis. It was only until an entire decade passed that he began to play as a solo musician and even then, Juanes says, success didn’t occur overnight.
“’Fijate Bien’ was my big break – that was an important moment for me,” says the artist. “It wasn’t a very commercial break through, but that album, as well as my second, helped open a lot of doors internationally and in the U.S. for me.”
Now, Juanes hopes to provide that all-important big break to other aspiring artists. He’s teamed up with Dewar’s to form a talent search competition, where up-and-coming musicians can submit their auditions online and compete for the chance to open up for Juanes in concert.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to help people that really love music,” comments Juanes. “And the same way that people have helped me, I feel blessed and happy to do this now for others.”
Now firmly established as an international icon (“it’s been a journey to find my own way; it’s always hard when people think of Latin music as one type”), Juanes says that it’s more important than ever to appreciate life beyond the applause and fame. So what exactly does a rock star do when he’s not earning momentous applause on stage?
“I work out,” says Juanes, who is honest about the fact that he struggles to keep his weight in check. He used to be a chubby-faced child and says he’s had to make a regimented diet and exercise part of his daily routine.
“I need to take care of my diet, because if I ate what I wanted to, I would get fat immediately,” says Juanes, who now calls Miami, Florida home. “I just love French fries, pizza, hamburgers and stuff like that. So now, I just take care of my health.”
With several concerts in North America lined up for the summer, Juanes says he has no immediate plans to head to the studio and record a new album. Even so, he’d love to team up again with Juan Luis Guerra (the Dominican artist who produced his “Unplugged” album) and the guitarist is even considering an entirely new type of project: film.
“I love movies and maybe one day I would like to try a small role in a really cool movie,” says Juanes, who says he wouldn’t want to be part of a prime-time television show like fellow Colombian stars Shakira and Sofia Vergara.
But fans can rest easy: music is Juanes’ number one priority, now just as it has been his entire life.
“My dream has come true,” says Juanes.
“I do what I love, which is music.”