In 1988, during the recording of the album Ojalá Que Llueva Café , Guerra became the dominant vocalist of 440. He is an incredible guitar player. The new music, called “bachata-merengue,” soon won considerable acclaim in the Dominican Republic.
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Juan Luis Guerra emerged into the sold-out Wang Theater on Saturday night by stepping out of a telephone booth. In 2004, Guerra released his first new album in six years. Entitled “Para Tí” (For you), the album’s songs are mostly Christian. 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). 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.
It had been five years since Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra last released a studio album: that is until May 31st, when the titan of bachata and merengue would unveil his latest LP, Literal. Guerra’s 11-track LP traverses genres beyond his typical repertoire, including salsa, son and even electronic — flaunting the 61-year-old’s boundary-pushing approach to Caribbean roots music.
Guerra calls “La Llave de Mi Corazon,” released last year, his most romantic album. That’s saying a lot for a man whose ballads are often featured on top 10 lists of international love songs along with those of Barry White and Astrud Gilberto.
The title of his latest tour, “La Travesia (The Journey),” is an apt one for Guerra’s career. In the early 1990s, he became an international ambassador for the bachata, the Dominican version of a romantic bolero. The genre originated in countryside fiestas and brothels and is recognizable for its slow, sensual sound marked by bongos, maracas and the pluck of the guitar.
As he stepped forward to the microphone, the gangly 58-year-old singer-songwriter looked just as retro as the phone booth, sporting gray slacks, a newsboy cap, and a white shirt under a brown vest buttoned up tight — dignified attire more or less followed by the 14 men and one woman in 4.40.
But last year, after a 22-hour flight, Juan Luis Guerra found himself performing for an all-Japanese audience who danced and sang along, their voices breaking with emotion to the beat of a genre whose tales of heartbreak and lost love have earned it the moniker musica de amargue (bitterness music).
Pero con Juan Luis eres injusto y desconocedor de que el trasciende la bachata desde que salio. Lo que JLG hace es mucho mas que todo eso. Por eso esta donde esta. Los otros son Productos. Juan Luis es un Excelente Producto y mucho mejor Artista.
After the energetic first trio of songs, the night slowed down with “Bachata Rosa”, one of the biggest and most popular love songs in Guerra’s repertoire. His literature background really shines here, with Neruda-esque metaphors and similes describing his love in the most beautiful way imaginable.
There’s no place like home for Juan Luis Guerra, the Dominican Republic’s leading pop songwriter, who won five Latin Grammy Awards last year with his album La Llave de Mi Corazón” (The Key to My Heart,” from EMI Latin). Mr. Guerra’s songs, which have become hits across the Spanish-speaking world, are firmly grounded in the Dominican Republic’s upbeat merengue and lilting bachata, along with the island’s various regional styles. But that doesn’t mean Mr. Guerra is in any way provincial.
Once I got back to the Dominican Republic, I started working with a vocal quartet. We got hired to sing some jingles for TV and radio ads. The repertoire we were singing at first consisted of some of the transcriptions I had made as a Berkee student. In fact, the first piece we learned was a version of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” that I had transcribed from the Manhattan Transfer album Mecca for Moderns.
I had heard Papa Wemba playing with Peter Gabriel in New York. I really loved his song “Viv?” and wanted to do it on my own recording. But I had no idea what he was singing about in the lyrics because I couldn’t understand his language. So I wrote my own lyrics to his music.
It wasn’t until 1989 that Guerra began to dominate the airwaves with the album Ojala que Llueva café”, a musical homage to the earth and its bounty featuring majestic lyrics accompanied by idyllic rhythms. This was Juan Luis Guerra’s first solo project.
The popular hit, Bachata Rosa, was released in 1990 and earned Juan Luis Guerra his first Grammy. Some said the song gave bachata instant international recognition and helped legitimize the genre that for a long time was not respected. However, those who are familiar with bachata music have pointed out that the popular hit song with bachata in its name is actually a balada. The song does not have the same characteristic instrumentation, is not danceable as a bachata, and contains the romantic lyrics of a balada instead of singing about barrio life as other bachateros of the time were doing. In addition, it seems that his other bachata tracks share the same lack of bachata-ness. So what might explain this discrepancy? The reasons Latin music enthusiasts have come up have ranged from Guerra’s history of mixing musical genres to his insufficient study or even ignorance of bachata music.
Despite having dozens of hit singles to his name, there are probably (though we doubt it) people who have never heard Guerra’s music. When asked which would be the ideal song to introduce someone to his music, the star couldn’t quite decide on one.
Guerra is one of the most internationally recognized Latin artists of recent decades. His popular style of merengue and Afro-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. 4 He does not limit himself to one style of music; instead, he incorporates diverse rhythms like merengue , bachata-fusion, balada, salsa , rock and roll , and even gospel ” Ojalá Que Llueva Café ” (“I Hope it Rains Coffee”) is one of his most critically acclaimed pieces.
Two of Latin music’s top artists—Juan Luis Guerra and Juanes—have joined forces to play the first-ever Latin lineup at Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center on November 24. I want my next recording to be a live album. I will put some of my best-known songs on it, but I am also writing some new ones for it, too.
MIAMI (Billboard) – At first glance, the Japanese island city of Fukuoka, said to be the country’s oldest city, is an unlikely hotbed for bachata — traditional, romantic dance music from the Dominican Republic.
Besides his married life, Guerra has also served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO during an event called ”Levantate y Actua contra la Pobreza y por los Objetivos de DEsarrollo del Milenio,” in Bavaro, Dominican Republic.
Whereas 2019’s other bachata opus, Romeo Santos’ Utopia, is a nostalgic homage to the genre’s history and many of its pioneers, the veteran Guerra sidesteps some of bachata’s traditional elements and embraces more experimentation. As with previous releases, like 1990’s Bachata Rosa or 1998’s Ni Es Lo Mismo Ni Es Igual, Luis’ calling card is to venture further out to sea than other bachata players; and for the most part, on Literal, he executes this quite effectively. Opener and lead single Kitipun” opens with grandiose glam-rock synths, and even includes some unexpected sing-rapping from Juan Luis. Elsewhere, the artist flaunts his classical Berklee training in lively horn breaks and jazzy compositions. Yet one of the few missteps Guerra makes is the rogue airhorn sample on electro-son number Son a Mamá” — a call to embrace God and spirituality, themes that have characterized Juan Luis’ albums in the last few years.
Our fourth presentation at the @curacaonorthseajazz festival! They leave us with a heart in love! Thank you, Curaçao!” JLG wrote on his Instagram account with photographs that showed the excitement of people.
In 1984, after a performance in front of the Dominican entrepreneur Bienvenido Rodriguez, Juan Luis Guerra was signed to Karen Records. Juan Luis Guerra has captured three Grammy Awards and 21 Latin Grammy Awards. He’ll perform at the Prudential Center in Newark on Sept. 28.
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.
Now, with Sondeguerra,” his label wants to capitalize on his international potential. The set, Guerra’s second for Capitol Latin (formerly EMI Latin) after spending his career with indie Karen Records, will be the first album to be conceived, marketed and released under the newly restructured label.