Grammy Award-Winning Juanes On Peace In Colombian,Venezuelan Migrants And Playing His Best For Miami

Apr 20, 2018

South Florida fans of the Grammy Award-winning singer Juanes are going to have to wait one more day to see him perform at the American Airlines Arena. The Miami Heat playoff schedule pushed the Miami performance of his  Amarte Tour from April 21 to the 22. But fear not, because the Colombian artist is promising to bring "the best to everyone" when playing in Miami, a city he considers "almost like my hometown." 

The 16-date tour kicks off in Orlando Friday, April 20 and will travel around the United States by bus.

Juanes invited  WLRN into his home to talk about the upcoming tour with Sundial host Luis Hernandez. Here are a few excerpts of their conversation:

WLRN: You’re playing a hometown crowd this Saturday [now Sunday] at the American Airlines Arena. What does Miami mean to you at this point in your life?

JUANES: Miami is almost like my hometown. It's my second home. It means a lot for me to perform here in this city because  I have been living here for almost 13 years and I really love the community. It's like living in some part of  Latin America in the United States.  People are excited about music and culture so I am very happy and cannot wait to perform this Sunday. 

You’re originally from Colombia -- what were your early musical inspirations as a child?

When I was a kid, I was influenced by folk music from all over Latin America: Mexico, Argentina, Colombia...That was my first approach to music. When I was 13 and 14, I got crazy with rock music and I started to listen to all rock bands like Metallica, Slayer, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. I think that is kind of my influence: somewhere between folk and rock music and of course hip-hop and rhythms that are very popular these days. I think I am just learning and putting a little bit of everything into my music.

 You have been an outspoken advocate for peace in your country, Colombia. Two years after the official signing of the peace agreement between the government and the FARC [guerrillas], what do you think is the balance of the efforts? 

Right now things are so confusing. It's very complicated what's happening. We are in the middle of elections running for president, so there's a lot of noise. But even if I know things are complicated, I want to be optimistic. I want to be on the right side of history and support this peace process. I know it;'s not going to be easy for anyone, but I think Colombia deserves this historical opportunity to change our history. It won't be easy, but I think we have to do it and try at least. 

In 2008, you played the Concierto para la Paz at the border of Colombia and Venezuela. Talk about the potential refugee crisis going on there now. 

I think now the problem is going out of control. Many Venezuelans are crossing the border frontier and it's becoming such a big problem. I think in Colombia we are receiving Venezuelan people with open arms because 15, 20 years ago it was the opposite. Colombian people were going to Venezuela. I think we all know that and understand what's happening in Venezuela and support them a 100 percent. 

Let’s talk about the show coming up this weekend. Do you have anything specific for the Miami audience?

For me, to play guitar and sing in front of the audience is a magical thing. It's almost a spiritual thing for me. We are going to bring the best to everyone. I am going to bring all my songs, all my albums, all my hits,  also songs that people like so much but don't get played on the radio and some covers as well,  and some guests like Mon Laferte, very special guest from Chile. For me, she is a legend already. I mean, she is incredible! 

After the interview, Juanes sang and played the guitar during a Facebook Live chat with WLRN's Engagement Producer Katie Lepri. You can watch their conversation here: