Juan Luis Guerra | Biography

| October 11, 2010

Born on june 7 1957 and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Baptized with the name Juan Luis Guerra-Seijas given by his parents, the late basketball player Gilberto Guerra and mother Olga Seijas. In his days of youth Guerra used to perform at school meetings singing sentimental songs. After finishing high school he enrolled in Philosophy and Literature in the Autonomic University of Santo Domingo, realizing after one year that music was his true vocation, and changes the course of his studies to the National Music Conservatory where he finally graduates. At that moment Guerra was a great admirer of very different musicians like cuban Pablo Milanés and english rock band “The Beatles”.
Once he had finished his studies in the Music Conservatory of Santo Domingo, Guerra won a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, United States, to specialize in musical arrangement and composition. On this trip many expectations were at hand, including a letter from a friend whom in request for a favor, Juan Luis should deliver to a Design student named Nora Vega, who eventually became his wife and inspiration in many of his songs until today.
Years later and back in his homeland, Guerra starts working as a musical composer in television advertising playing guitar next to local artists like Sonia Silvestre. During these projects he meets singers Maridalia Hernández, Mariela Mercado and Roger Zayas-Bazán, regular voices whom he worked with during recordings. This is how “4-40 Group” was born and immediately released their first album entitled Soplando (1984). In Juan Luis’s own wor

ds this album “was a fusion between traditional merengue rhythms with jazz vocalizations very quite like the “Manhattan Transfer” style from the United States. It’s very slow, not for dancing”. Even though this LP had poor sales because it didn’t appeal to the masses, Warner Music re-released it in 1991 under the title The Original 4-40. These days it’s considered a collector’s item.
In 1985 Bienvenido Rodríguez, dominican buisnessman well-known in the music industry, offered Juan Luis Guerra his first contract for Karen Records after watching him perform. This opportunity radically transformed his musical style directly into commercial merengue. In this new stage Guerra records the following albums: Mudanza y Acarreo (1985) and Mientras más lo pienso…tú (1987). Of course, in due to his work, recognition and applause started to follow.
During his following studio recording entitled Ojalá que llueva café (1989) constant changes in the group’s vocalists immediately make Guerra the main figure turning them into “Juan Luis Guerra and 4-40”. Ojalá que llueva café (trans. I wish it would rain coffee) represents the internationalization of Guerra, obtaining sales numbers that positioned him on top of many Latin American countries with songs like Visa para un sueño, the venezuelan song Woman del Callao previously performed by the group “Un Solo Pueblo” and the album’s main title Ojalá…
In the midst of many expectations Guerra released Bachata Rosa (1990), being the first edited on compact disc and the most successful from a commercial point of view, selling up until then 5 million copies and achieving the highest peaks in his career. The album’s accomplishment filled stadiums and coliseums all around Latin America and Europe. It became a Grammy winner, the first for Guerra, who also was chosen as one of the presenters of the ceremony for that year next to canadien singer Celine Dion. On this recording Juan Luis gives the “bachata” rhythm world recognition, only known in dominican territory. Most of the album’s songs are classics in latin music. “Burbujas de amor”, “Estrellitas y Duendes” and “La Bilirrubina” traveled the world, among other ones.


A business pact with transnational Polygram record company (known today as Universal Music) inserted in the brazilian market the album Romance Rosa (1991), a version of Bachata Rosa cut for Brazil which included 4 songs translated in portuguese by lyricist Aloysio Reis, and some other spanish songs from previous recordings with Karen Records. At the same time, Juan Luis writes and arranges songs for other artists like mexican singer Luis Miguel with “Hasta que me olvides” featured in the album Aries and venezuelan performer Emmanuel with the title “No he podido verte” contained in the album Vida.
Guerra became a controversial figure in his native Dominican Republic after releasing Areito (1992), a complete album allusive to the 500 Anniversary of the Discovery of the Americas. The song “El costo de la vida” (trans. The cost of life) manifests the poor conditions in which most Latin American countries go through, and many of his countrymen felt these “accusations” did not fit well with Guerra, arguing he himself has never lived in poverty. Among the social-criticism based songs like “Si de aquí saliera petróleo” (trans. If oil came out of this soil), on which panamanian musician Rubén Blades participates, Juan Luis also experiments with his sentimental side along the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and produces two versions of “Cuando te beso” (trans. When I kiss you). Some come to think that on this moment the “Guerra Nostalgia” is born, rather than the cheery, perky songs he had listeners accustomed to on earlier albums.


But this didn’t stop his agitated agenda of live performances to continue. Backed up by more than 2 million copies sold, the “Areito Tour” maintained his popularity in Latin America and strengthened him in Europe touring all through Spain performing in plazas in Portugal and filling at full capacity the famous Ahoy Center in Holland. On this precise moment music was everything for Juan Luis, even more important than family. His concerts were practically a trip to another dimension due to the harmony and exquisite sounds mixed with certain arrangements that made the crowds delirious. Later on Guerra mentioned that in those days sleeping pills were necessary for him because of the constant anxiety and lack of peace he felt that not even the amount of awards could satisfy. “On some occasions, touring continuously made me forget what country I was performing in” he has stated.
Shortly before Areito, dominican musician Manuel Tejada and close friend of Juan Luis, released La Música de Juan Luis Guerra (1992). This album compiled 15 of Guerra’s most popular hits up until then as a tribute to him. It was recorded with the Santo Domingo Philharmonic Orchestra and several musicians and backup singers who had previously worked in the 4-40 Group.
Fogaraté (1994) was his next album which had as first single “La cosquillita” (trans. Little tickle), a fast beat merengue commonly known as “perico ripiao” with the collaboration of dominican accordionist Francisco Ulloa. He also mixed merengue with south African soukus rhythms (“Fogaraté”, “El beso de la ciguatera”) accompanied by Diblo Dibala, the famous guitarist from Zaire. This rather eclectic production introduced Guerra’s first attempt in singing completely in english with “July 19th”. The album had limited commercial response and it didn’t compete with the accustomed standards on his previous three records. Various factors jumped to conclusion, with the theory of Juan Luis’s innovated tendencies that were never attached to commercial linings, also very little promotion from the Karen Record company and sadly the growing wish of Guerra of taking a long term rest from the artistic scene. Only two concerts came after its launch (Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in 1995). He made some promotional appearances shortly before in Mexico and the San Remo Festival in Italy.
He retired following his live performance in Puerto Rico in June of 1995 after a tense business relationship with Bienvenido Rodriguez that almost ended up in court. He then starts investing in the media industry acquiring a radio station called Viva Fm and a television station that promoted local musical talent called Mango TV. Years later that same tv station was leased to a North American franchise of protestant religious programming, due to Guerra’s beliefs.
A greatest hit compact disc was released in 1995 titled “Grandes Exitos de Juan Luis Guerra y 4.40” that obtained good response in market sales.
What seemed like definitive retirement was broken after 4 silent years when Juan Luis launched Ni es lo mismo ni es igual (1998) obtaining three Latin Grammy Awards in 2000 on their inaugural ceremony. With this recording Guerra positioned “Mi PC” and “Palomita blanca” in consecutive order on the number #1 spot of Billboard’s “Hot Latin Tracks”. However “El Niágara en bicicleta” became the most popular track of the album.
In upcoming years Guerra has been touring limitedly making sporadic performances in different countries, a sort of come-back to the music scenario in a gradual approach, but always conscious that he will never be submitted to an intense agenda that perhaps precipitated his retirement on the highest point of his career.
A romantic compilation of his most tender bachatas and warm ballads was released in 2001 titled Colección Romántica, including 4 new versions of previous songs, emphasizing “Quisiera” which its original rhythm was salsa and now was transformed into soft-rock, and also the ballad “Tú” that years earlier was known in a merengue version.
August of 2004 brought “Para ti”, the first all-studio record produced by Guerra in six years. The album is completely dedicated to God in a thankful manner of Juan Luis for everything he has received after his religion conversion in 1996. Sales numbers go round about half a million copies. Billboard granted it many awards and recently was awarded with two Latin Grammies in “Best Tropical song” and “Best Christian album” due to the hit single “Las avispas”.
Since then Guerra has been performing with his “Tour 20 Años”, his most extensive one since the Areito Tour in 1993. Celebrating the 20 years of the foundation of the 4.40 Group, the band has visited Aruba, Curazao, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, United States, Spain, Holland, Denmark, Italy, Dominican Republic and Chile totalling 28 succesful concerts.
During February 2006, he was the opening act and special guest for the legendary “Rolling Stones” in San Juan, Puerto Rico. That same month he performed for the 2nd time in his career in the Chilean “Festival Viña del Mar” earning the “Antorcha de Oro” (golden torch) award from the audience for his memorable performance. In March of that same year, he performed in the last three concerts of his tour, in Bogota and Cali, Colombia and in Hollywood, Florida at the Hard Rock Live. In April he was honored by BMI’s singer/songwriter association, where he was named a Music Icon. During that same month, he performed live with British artist Sting singing the last song of his concert (“Fragile”) at Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic. In May, he joined Alejandro Sanz, Carlos Vives and other artists in furthering Juanes’ cause “Colombia without mines”, through a concert successfully held in Los Angeles.

During the second half of 2006, Guerra more than once hit the number one spot in popularity charts with duets with Diego Torres (Abriendo caminos) and Maná (Bendita la luz). This last song with Mana was a great success, and occupied the number 1 spot in Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks. Juan Luis also participated in the song’s video and made a live appearance with the group during the Latin Grammys and the “Premios Principales” celebrated in Spain.

A Son de Guerra is the 11th studio album by Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra and was released on June 8, 2010 by EMI Records.

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Category: Bachata

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Dj Salsani is considered one of the best Cuban Salsa Dj. Dj Salsani is an internationally renowned DJ who has performed at some of the best clubs & congresses across Europe, she has worked alongside with renowned bands like Los Van Van, Pupy Y los Que Son Son, Klimax, Manolito y su Trabuco , Habana D’Primera, Grupo Danson & Mayito Rivera just to name a few !!!. Not content to sit at the top of the cuban salsa scene in Europe, Dj Salsani continues to move upwards performing the best timba, salsa, bachata, zouk. Dj Salsani has also a very valuable catalog that consists of some of the best latin cd’s (timba, salsa, bachata, reggaeton, zouk, latin urban, afro rumba, merengue, etc) ready for selling, including also the legendary CD of Vitaly Osmashcko y su Timba Habanera “Desnudar tu Cuerpo”.

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