Juanes on Good Music, God, and Exile Enmity Toward Cuba: "That Mentality Is Changing"
A spotty, Spotified copy of Juanes: MTV Unplugged streams on an iPhone as Crossfade travels 70mph down an unassuming stretch of I-75 near Resaca, Georgia. It's the Monday after Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and we are relying on the same 4G network that's playing the music to sustain a healthy signal during our international phone conversation with the Colombian singer-songwriter.
"Sí, aquí estoy," he says patiently, graciously accepting our apology for the shoddy cell service.
The Grammy-winning rockero is in the midst of his Loud and Unplugged tour, performing in front of sold-out crowds around the U.S. and Canada. Right now, he's en route to Florida, where he'll wrap the North American leg in Tampa.
Before he hits the Big Guava, though, Juanes will visit our little slice of the Sunshine State for a hugely anticipated concert at Hard Rock Live this Thursday.
"It's an important show for me," Juanes tells Crossfade. "I consider South Florida my home in the United States. I'm excited to perform for that crowd."
But Juanes, accompanied by a ten-piece band and two back-up singers, was just as excited to perform for Canadian audiences on the two consecutive nights preceeding our conversation.
"The shows in Montreal and Toronto were sold out," he says. "It's very multicultural. There are a lot of Latinos [in those two cities], but also a lot of Europeans. I was very surprised by the reception."
Of course, though, Juanes is being humble. The 40-year-old musician has an exceptional ability to transcend language barriers and connect with audiences all around the world. His 20 Latin Grammy awards, five Grammy nods, and two wins, along with the 15 million albums he's sold, are a testament to his global reach.
"I feel that at the shows, people who aren't Latino can still connect with the music," Juanes says. "They connect with the rhythm and the melodies, even though they're not necessarily connecting with the lyrics. I think that's the magic of music."