Juan Luis Guerra Seijas (born 7 June 1957)[1] is a Dominican musician, singer, composer, and record producer. He has sold 15 million records worldwide,[2] making him one of the best-selling Latin music artists.[3][4] Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards including 24 Latin Grammy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and one Latin Billboard Music Award. He won 3 Latin Grammy Awards in 2010, including Album of the Year. In 2012, he won the Latin Grammy Award for Producer of the Year.[5]

Juan Luis Guerra
Guerra, Santo Domingo, 2012
Juan Luis Guerra Seijas

(1957-06-07) 7 June 1957 (age 66)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Alma materBerklee College of Music
  • Musician
  • singer
  • composer
  • record producer
Years active1983–present
TitleJuan Luis Guerra
Nora Clementina Altagracia Vega Rasuk
(m. 1983)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano

Guerra is one of the most internationally recognized Latin artists of recent decades. His popular style of merengue and Latin fusion has garnered him considerable success throughout Latin America. He is also credited for popularizing bachata music on a global level and is often associated with the genre, although his distinct style of bachata features a more traditional bolero rhythm and aesthetic mixed with bossa-nova influenced melodies and harmony in some of his songs.[6] He does not limit himself to one style of music, instead, his music incorporates a wide arrange of diverse rhythms such as merengue, bachata, bolero, balada, fusion, salsa, cumbia, mambo, cha-cha-cha, pop, rock and roll, reggae, classical, R&B, folk, blues, jazz, funk, soul, rock, hip-hop/rap, son cubano, and religious, amongst many others. "Ojalá Que Llueva Café" ("I Wish That It Rains Coffee") is one of his most critically acclaimed pieces.

Early life edit

Born Juan Luis Guerra Seijas, his parents were Gilberto Guerra Pacheco, and Olga Seijas Herrero. He has two brothers, José Gilberto, a plastic surgeon, and Diego Esteban, a graduate in business administration. He was a student at La Salle and Santa Teresita school, where he stood out for his love of sports. Before becoming interested in music, Guerra studied Philosophy and Literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo.[7] He later studied guitar and music theory at the Dominican Republic's Conservatorio Nacional de Música (National Conservatory of Music) in Santo Domingo, and then decided to go to the United States to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, from which he graduated in 1982 with a diploma in jazz composition. He then returned to the Dominican Republic and formed a band with local musicians from his community.

Career edit

1980s edit

Guerra released his first album, Soplando (1984), with local musicians who became known as Juan Luis Guerra y 440. The number refers to the standard tuning of A440. The band's name in Spanish is Cuatro Cuarenta ("Four Forty"). According to Guerra, this first album was based on jazz tunes and concepts he had learned at Berklee, and it "wasn't intended to be a commercial hit." Subsequently, however, he began to write more merengues.[7]

In 1983, after a performance in front of the Dominican entrepreneur Bienvenido Rodríguez, Juan Luis Guerra was signed to Karen Records. This marked a radical shift in Guerra's musical style toward merengue. In this period, he recorded two albums, Mudanza y Acarreo in 1985 and Mientras Más Lo Pienso...Tú in 1987. These works gained more recognition, and the band was nominated to attend the OTI (Organization of Iberoamerican Television) Festival to represent the Dominican Republic.

In 1988, during the recording of the album Ojalá Que Llueva Café, Guerra became the dominant vocalist of 440. This album also began his international recognition; the album's sales topped the charts in many Latin American countries.

1990s edit

In 1990, 440 released their next album, Bachata Rosa, which became a major hit and earned Guerra his first Grammy award. With sales over five million, the album let Guerra keep touring Latin America, US and Europe. It contains memorable love songs such as "Burbujas de amor" (Bubbles of Love), "Bachata Rosa", "Rosalía", "Como abeja al panal" (Like a Bee to the Honeycomb), "A pedir su mano" (Asking For Her Hand), "Carta de amor" (Love Letter), and "Estrellitas y duendes" (Little stars and elves).

Guerra attracted controversy in 1992 after he released his next album, Areíto (which is a Taíno word for song and dance). It featured the hit single "El costo de la vida" (The Cost of Living), whose video clearly has an anti-capitalist message. Other songs included in this album protest the poor conditions in many Latin American countries, the celebration of the 'discovery' of the Americas ("1492"), and the double standards of first-world nations. "El costo de la vida" was his first number-one hit in the Hot Latin Tracks.

His next album, Fogaraté (1994) avoided such controversy. It focuses on more rural and lesser known types of Dominican music, like Perico Ripiao.

Guerra's 1998 release Ni es lo mismo ni es igual (Neither The Same Nor Equal) won three Latin Grammys in 2000 for Best Merengue Performance, Best Tropical Song, and Best Engineered Album. Its hits include "Mi PC" (lit. "My PC", My Computer), "Palomita Blanca" (Little White Dove), and "El Niágara en Bicicleta" (The Niagara on Bicycle).

2000s edit

In 2004, Guerra signed a one-off deal with Vene music and released his first new album in six years.[8] Entitled "Para Tí" (For you), the album's songs are mostly Christian, it debuted at number one in US Top Latin Albums and at 110 of US Billboard 200. It was three times certified platinum by the RIAA for selling 300,000 copies and sold half a million copies worldwide. It was certified gold in Argentina and Central America and as platinum in Venezuela. This album won two awards at the 2005 Billboard Music Awards, in the categories of Gospel-Pop and Tropical-Merengue, for the hit single Las Avispas (The wasps), the first time ever that one song has won these two categories at the same time. Other hits included "Para Tí" and "Soldado" (Soldier). In the same ceremony, Guerra was awarded Spirit of Hope Award for his philanthropic work.[9] At the same time, Guerra was honored with the Latino Special Award for the Music Academy of Spain for his contributions to the music of his country and the Caribbean in the last 20 years. In the same year, Guerra embarked on his 20-year anniversary tour, "Tour 20 años". In the United States, he visited cities including Miami, Chicago, Washington D.C., Orlando, Boston and a concert at New York`s Madison Square Garden.[10] In November 2005, Guerra was awarded with two awards at the 6th Annual Latin Grammy Awards for Best Christian Album (Spanish Language) and Best Tropical Song for "Las Avispas".[11]

Juan Luis Guerra in concert in Madrid, Spain, during the Para tí tour. July 2005.

In January 2006, Guerra performed at Berklee's 60th anniversary, along with other artists such as Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock, Michel Camilo and Chiara Civello. That same year, he recorded with Diego Torres in "Abriendo Caminos" (Opening roads) and with Maná in "Bendita Tu Luz" (Blessed Be Your Light). On 6 April 2006, Guerra was honored as a BMI Icon at the 13th annual BMI Latin Awards. Named BMI's 1995 Latin Songwriter of the Year, Guerra's songwriting has garnered 14 BMI Latin Awards.[12]

Guerra set records for the highest-grossing music tour when he opened for The Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang Tour at their San Juan, Puerto Rico show in February 2006. He was also invited by Sting to sing with him at a concert at Altos de Chavón, La Romana in the Dominican Republic in 2006.

At the Premio Lo Nuestro awards in 2007, he was given the honorary lifetime achievement award. He also performed the lead single of his new album, "La Llave De Mi Corazón", released in March 2007. Guerra won more than 20 awards with this CD, including 5 Latin Grammy Awards, 6 Premios Casandra awards, 4 billboard Awards, 2 lo nuestro, and one Grammy Award.

In 2007,Guerra was awarded the Excellence Award at the 2007 Lo Nuestro Awards.[13] Guerra was honored at the Latin Grammy Awards in the same year with 5 awards, sweeping each category he was nominated in: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Tropical Song, and Best Merengue Album. Its engineers, Allan Leschhorn, Luis Mansilla, Ronnie Torres, and Adam Ayan, were also awarded Best Engineered Album. The night before the Latin Grammy Awards, he received the Academy's Person of the Year Award for his contribution to Latin music and for his philanthropy.

On 10 March 2008, Guerra was honored with 6 awards in los Premios Casandra, the most important award event in the Dominican Republic. He won for Orchestrator of the year, Outstanding artist abroad, Music album of the year for "La Llave de mi Corazón" (The Key to My Heart) and "El Soberano" (The Sovereign).

On 16 March 2008, he and other artists participated in the Paz Sin Fronteras concert organized by Juanes, celebrating the end of the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis between Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

On 11 April 2008, Guerra was the Billboard Latin awards big winner, with 7 nominations and 3 awards.

On 15 September 2008 Guerra was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace "in recognition of his efforts for the benefit of children with disabilities and children in need."[14]

On 9 May 2009, Guerra was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Berklee College of Music at its commencement ceremony.[15]

2010s edit

On 5 April 2010, Guerra released the official video for his new single "Bachata en Fukuoka". The video was filmed in various locations in the city of Los Angeles, and was directed by Colombian director Simon Brand. On 8 June 2010, Guerra released A son de Guerra which contains eight musical rhythms (bachata, merengue, bolero, Mambo, funk, Rock, Jazz, reggae) and includes the collaboration of Juanes among others. The album contains hits including "La Guagua", "La Calle", and "Bachata en Fukuoka". The first single from his new production, "Bachata en Fukuoka", placed in the # 1 position on the Hot Latin Tracks, Tropical Songs, and Latin Pop Airplay Songs of the Billboard charts. Simultaneously, the collaboration of Guerra with Enrique Iglesias on "Cuando me Enamoro" was in the #2 spot on the Rhythm Airplay Chart.

In January 2012, the video for his single "En el cielo no hay Hospital" premiered on YouTube. This song belonged to his new album "Colección Cristiana". Later that year, he collaborated with the Spanish singer Miguel Bosé on his album Papitwo, in the song "Yo creo en Ti".

On 25 April 2014, "Tus Besos" was released. It is a bachata song with a music video inspired by the rock and roll of the 1950s. This video was directed by his son Jean Gabriel.[16]

In 2019 during the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain, Juan Luis Guerra surpassed the record reached in 1987 by Celia Cruz by bringing together more than 400,000 people as the largest congregation of people in an open-air plaza to attend a concert.[17]

Singing in other languages edit

Guerra has recorded several songs in English, like "July 19th" on his 1994 album Fogaraté, and more recently "Medicine for My Soul" and "Something Good" with Italian singer Chiara Civello. Some of his songs have verses in both English and Spanish such as "Woman del Callao", "Guavaberry", "Señorita" on his 1995 compilation album Grandes Exitos as a bonus track and more recently "La Llave de Mi Corazón". The album Areíto featured two songs, the cover-title song "Areíto" and "Naboria daca, mayanimacaná", which are sung in the Arawak language of the extinct Taino natives of Hispaniola. Juan Luis Guerra also recorded the album "Bachata Rosa" in Portuguese. He uses Japanese words in Bachata en Fukuoka (Bachata in Fukuoka), 2010 Latin Grammy winner for Best Tropical Song.

As a composer for other artists edit

In 1988, he made his debut as a songwriter for other artists such as fellow Dominican musician Taty Salas, for whom he wrote the music for De tu boca, a song with which he participated in the now defunct OTI Festival, reaching the top 3 category. He also composed songs for Mexican artists like Emmanuel (No he podido verte, recorded in 1990) and Luis Miguel (Hasta que me olvides 1993 and Te necesito 2003). He also composed for the Puerto Rican salsa singer Gilberto Santa Rosa in 1994 (Te Propongo).

Lyrical style edit

Being a native Dominican, his music is heavily influenced by native Caribbean rhythms, such as merengue and bachata.

His lyrics are often charged with intentionally simple, heavily metaphorical, or popular expressions, such as "Burbujas de Amor" (Bubbles of Love). His lyrics also reflect in political issues, but from a deeply human perspective, that is, centering the lyrics in the human drama that social injustice generates. This is seen in "Visa Para un Sueño" about the broken dream of a visit to America. "El Niágara en Bicicleta" — a title based on the Cuban idiom, "al pasar el Niagara en bicicleta", meaning a difficult task — describes the negligence that destroys the social health services. "El Costo de La Vida" describes the effects of globalization on the working-class people; "Acompáñeme Civil" ("Accompany me Civilian") is about police and military corruption that exploits the people that they should care for.

Discography edit

Tours edit

Awards edit

The following is a list of Guerra's Grammy Awards wins and nominations:

Year Category Nominees(s) Nominated for Result
1992 Best Tropical Latin Album Juan Luis Guerra Bachata Rosa Won
1994 Areíto Nominated
1995 Best Tropical Latin Performance Fogaraté Nominated
2000 Best Latin Pop Performance Ni es lo mismo ni es igual Nominated
2008 Best Tropical Latin Album La Llave de Mi Corazon Won
2011 A Son de Guerra Nominated
2016 Todo Tiene Su Hora[20] Nominated
2020 Literal Nominated

440 band members edit

  • Janina Rosado
  • Roger Zayas-Bazán
  • Maridalia Hernández
  • Mariela Mercado
  • Marco Hernández (replaced Maridalia Hernández)
  • Adalgisa Pantaleón (replaced Mariela Mercado)
  • Quico Rizek (replaced Marco Hernández)

Personal life edit

Guerra is the son of Gilberto Guerra Pacheco and Olga Seijas Herrero; he has two brothers, José Gilberto Guerra Seijas, plastic surgeon, and Diego Esteban Guerra Seijas, economist.[21] He is married to Nora Clementina Altagracia Vega Rasuk, and has two children. His wife is the sister of Otto Miguel Vega Rasuk, who is the father of Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega Polanco.

In 2000, he became an evangelical Christian and worship director at the “Más Que Vencedores” church in Santo Domingo. [22]

On 17 October 2008, he participated as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO in an event called "Levántate y Actúa contra la Pobreza y por los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio", in Bavaro, Dominican Republic, during the International Conference of the Americas.[23]

On 18 April 2010, he organized a concert to raise money for those who were affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake. After this successful event was held, a children's hospital was later built in Haiti.[24]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Juan Luis Guerra - Biography of a Dominican Icon". Latinmusic.about.com. Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Un concierto de lujo en Las Vegas honró a Juan Luis Guerra a sus 50 años". La Nación (in Spanish). 8 November 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  3. ^ ""Literal", de Juan Luis Guerra, es el mejor álbum de 2019 para All Music". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 31 December 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  4. ^ Judy Cantor-Navas (31 May 2019). "Juan Luis Guerra's Album 'Literal' is a Tropical Lovefest: Stream It Now". Billboard. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  5. ^ "Latin Grammy Pre-Telecast: Juan Luis Guerra Wins Producer of the Year, Don Omar Scores Best Urban Album". Billboard. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Juan Luis Guerra". Iasorecords.com. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Berklee Today". Berklee.edu. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  8. ^ Cobo, Leila (15 July 2004). "Juan Luis Guerra Inks One-Off Deal". Billboard. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  9. ^ Billboard Staff (11 March 2005). "Solis, Guerra To Receive Billboard Latin Honors". Billboard. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  10. ^ Cobo, Leila (19 May 2005). "Latin Stars Announce U.S. Tour Plans". Billboard. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  11. ^ Billboard Staff (4 November 2005). "2005 Latin Grammy Awards Winners". Billboard. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Juan Luis Guerra, Juanes Top 13th Annual BMI Latin Awards". Bmi.com. 6 April 2006. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Juan Luis Guerra declarado "Cantautor de la Patria"". Emol (in Spanish). 14 November 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Youth - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". Portal.unesco.org. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Robinson, Ronstadt, Guerra, and Massenburg Honored at 2009 Commencement". Berklee.edu. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  16. ^ Fox News Latino. "Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra uses humor to ridicule injustices in his music".
  17. ^ "Santa Cruz bate el récord de Celia Cruz". eldia.es. 10 March 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Juan Luis Guerra Announces Fall U.S. Tour". Billboard. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  19. ^ Caribe, El (4 April 2022). "JLG lleva "Entre Mar y Palmeras Tour" a España". Periódico El Caribe (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  20. ^ "Juan Luis Guerra". GRAMMY.com. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  21. ^ "Genealogía de la Familia Defilló y familias relacionadas" (PDF). Bernardodefillo.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  22. ^ Andrea M. Rosa Del Pino, La nueva vida de Juan Luis Guerra: de la bachata a Dios y, ahora, a la cocina, elmundo.es, Spain, November 4, 2016
  23. ^ Scharboy, Bienvenido (18 October 2008). ""No más excusas" de líderes que no enfrentan la pobreza". Diario Libre (in Spanish). Grupo Diario Libre. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  24. ^ "Juan Luis Guerra organizes Haiti concert". 6 ABC Philadelphia. Retrieved 16 January 2015.

Bibliography edit

External links edit