10 things to know about Juanes, due soon in Sacramento

05/17/2013 12:00 AM

05/19/2013 10:11 AM

In the world of Latin pop, he's known for sold-out shows, million-selling albums and the single name of Juanes.

He is to bring his "Loud and Unplugged" tour to the Community Center Theater on Wednesday to show off the songs that have him on a first-name basis with fans of Latin music.

Others might wonder, "Who is Juanes, and why is he so popular?"

Unless you're a regular viewer of the Univision network or listen to Spanish-language radio, we can understand why Juanes might not be on your radar.

On that note, it's time for a primer on this native of Colombia, who still makes enchanting music that blends Latin idioms, melodic pop and rock with a sense of social activism that transcends language barriers.

Here are 10 things to know about Juanes as he gets set for his Sacramento appearance:

1. His full name is quite a mouthful: Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez.

"Juanes" is a hybrid of his first name and the "Es" in "Esteban."

2. Juanes was raised in Medellín, Colombia, and was deeply affected by the city's violence. A close friend was killed in a nightclub shooting, and a cousin was kidnapped and executed – experiences that influenced some of his socially conscious lyrics.

3. Juanes' debut solo album, 2000's "Fíjate Bien," was listed by National Public Radio in "The 50 Most Important Recordings of the Decade."

Said NPR: "Juanes' social activism and sold-out tours make him one of the most influential artists of the decade. He's sold millions while making intelligent, thought-provoking music."

4. Juanes is known for his social activism – he's the Bono of Latin pop. Some of Juanes' causes include advocacy against land mines and for the rights of indigenous peoples. He performed a free concert on the Colombian-Venezuelan border to soothe tensions during the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis.

5. Juanes has won two Grammy Awards for Latin pop album. In the Latin Grammy Awards, he has won a whopping 20 awards including two album-of-the-year accolades.

6. He has a background in heavy metal. Juanes was the co-founder of the band Ekhymosis, which was something like Colombia's answer to Metallica.

7. Juanes was named in 2005 as one of Time magazine's "100 most influential people" because of his music and activism. Quincy Jones praised Juanes in the Time write-up as "an artist whose music comes straight from the genuine spirit of his soul and, because of that, an artist that I think more and more of the world will embrace."

8. Juanes whipped up some controversy in the Latin community after he announced a 2009 "Paz Sin Fronteras" ("Peace Without Borders") performance in Havana, Cuba. Actress Maria Conchita Alonso was among those who criticized Juanes for a gig in the socialist state.

9. Juanes is making inroads for crossing over to mainstream American radio. Though his music is primarily sung in Spanish, he's adding English-language songs to his repertoire.

Juanes is also introducing himself to a wider U.S. audience with singing appearances on "Dancing With the Stars" and "Live! With Kelly and Michael."

10. Juanes released a memoir in April titled "Juanes: Chasing the Sun." The book is published in both Spanish and English editions.

Bonus bit: At press time, Juanes had nearly 7.5 million followers on Twitter. You can add him: @juanes.

Juanes himself follows more than 2,380 people on Twitter, including Café Tacuba, David Bowie and the speed-metal band Slayer.


JUANES

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento

Cost: $16.50-$86.50

Information: (916) 808-5181, tickets.com


Call The Bee's Chris Macias (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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