Under the bright lights of the stage surrounded by hundreds of fans singing along to every word, he shines like a star. Each word , each note, encompasses the magical invitation to let all emotions flow.
Juan Luís Guerra is not only a symbol of Dominican pride but almost a representation of the Dominican flag itself. But 2006 confirmed that he is also a international figure. At the beginning of the year, he sang at the opening of the Rolling Stones’ concert in San Juan, Puerto Rico and during a concert at Altos de Chavón, in Dominican republic he sang a duet with Sting.
He also appeared for the second time at the stage of Viña del Mar in Chile and returned home with the “Antorcha de Oro” (The Golden Torch), an award given by the audience for his performance, and closed the year singing together with Argentinean Diego Torres, in the song “Abriendo Caminos” and with Mexican band Maná with the song “Bendita Tu Luz.”
A new chapter in his career begun in 2007 with the release of “La llave de mi Corazón” (The Key to My heart), a record which according to the author of “Burbujas de amor” is described as the most romantic work in his career. “This record is related to previous productions in many ways, rhythms of merengue, salsa and bachata are still prevalent, and also carries new elements. The song ‘La llave de mi Corazón’ is, for example, a blend of blues, mambo, hip hop and merengue”, comments Guerra, famous for his celebrated blending of rhythms and his way of enhancing folksy music like as the creole merengue and bachata.
Guerra states that the direct contact with the public and the fact of seeing thousands of happy faces within the lime lights listening to him sing, is really marvelous. He also noted that the stage demands a lot now from him, since his perfectionsist sense is there with him demanding all the time. “I feel very emotional when I make people happy. Of course, another thing you have to deal with in your tours is the urge to make things right, to have the proper lighting on stage, the perfect sound, and to avoid any mistakes so that everything comes out perfect. That is the heaviest burden of it all, “ he adds.
He also confesses that going to church, traveling, contacting and experimenting new cultures and spending time with his family are activities he enjoys the most when he is away from the lime lights. When talking about the songs that have become social emblems and love theme classics throughout Hispanic America through the years, Guerra confesses he feels greatly honored. And it is evident that humility is not the only striking aspect emerging as a surprise from his persona. It is also a distinctive sign of his greatness, not only circumscribed to creating and producing music and being the recipient of so much recognition.
Explain to us the process of your creation.
I start working on my songs and my lyrics. I love to work on the music first though, and then do the lyrics. I follow with the arrangements, and when everything is ready, we go straight to the recording studio.
What do you like best, writing songs or the work on the stage?
I like the composition process very much, that is what I enjoy more, no doubt. I’m not saying that the other does not overwhelm me as much with emotion, but I inlcine myself more for the composition work.
When you recall your first steps with 440 band and your productions such as “Soplando” and “Mudanza y Acarreo”, do you feel nostalgic?
No, because I see them as a legacy, as a period that we’ve left behing. Of course, when I listen to all those songs it always strikes me to see that they are still enjoyed by so many people. That is something that makes me feel very good.
“La llave de mi Corazon” includes a song in English, “Medicine for my soul,” have you been thinking of doing a completed production in English?
Not a complete production yet, but I have started to flirt with English because hthee are much more markets opened by it, and it is a very important factor for all of us.
What are the fundamental changes in your music and lyrics since you started a closer relationship with God?
The Word says that God comes to give us abundant life, and we are better persons when we are near Him. I continue with my development and He keeps giving me the gift of His music and poetry. There are thousands of songs still to be written.
You have had a career marked with peaks, but which episodes you feel have marked you the most?
There are so many. Each multitudinous concert, each award, and I keep giving thanks to God who fills me with enthusiasm. All the awards are a push forward to continue ahead, but I still remember with great love my first Grammy, among other recognitions.
You are recognized for your continuous search in music, what is it you’d like to experiment still?
A symphony might strike me very much and also to compose soundtracks for movies. I would love to get into these fields.
There is great excitement about with TV shows like “operacion triunfo” and “American Idol.” Is it possible to develop a “laboratory” artist?
I am very much in agreement with these programs, because all these young people come out with a lot of developed talent. I have seen “American Idol” and the result is that they all come out prepared to dance, act. I think those programs are music academies and many singers have had a lot of success thanks to their exposure from them: a good example is singer David Bisbal.
Innumerable artists have evidenced their admiration for your work. Who are ones you admire the most?
I am a follower of many artists, among which are Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Juanes, Alejandro Sanz, Diego Torres, Maná, Michael Camilo and Tomatico.
You have always had an interest for social issues. How do you see the Dominican republic at this moment, is anything worrying you?
I see my country through my faithful eyes. I always see it good looking. They say that love covers all faults; of course we do have a lot of problems. Nevertheless, I have great expentency and faith that we shall overcome those problems. I’m worried about education. I would like us Dominicans to give examples of correctness and good behavior, wherever we go. I’m also worried about health, especially services dedicated to childhood. Another issues that has caught my attention is the abuse of deforestation; we should make people conscious about saving trees and the rivers.