Growing Up Latino With Colombian Musician And Activist Juanes

We caught up with the global superstar to get more in-depth with his childhood.

Medellín's own, Juan Esteban Vásquez, has been ringing up chart topping tracks since the year 2000, and now the singer-songwriter lets loose his latest offering, Mis Planes Son Amarte, Latin music's first visual album. After finishing the music for the LP, the Grammy-winning artist felt compelled to take his project a step further, folding in the record's visual world, with the help of Puerto Rican video director Kacho Lopez.

The project follows Juanes, a Colombian Astronaut’s travel through space in search of true love. Gathering young sound engineers from his homeland, Juanes was able to tap into his roots, incorporating guasca-inspired elements while challenging himself to create his first English record. The 12-track album is carried over a stream of feel-good rhythms, and features the likes of fellow Colombian recording artists Kali Uchis and Fonseca, blending the Juanes we all love with more contemporary sonics.

After a long and successful career in the music industry, the singer found a formula to continue to create music, while building his family and providing support to the underprivileged youth of his hometown via Mi Sangre foundation, which provides underserved adolescents with an artistic outlet in hopes of straying them away from the violence in his native country. Juanes partnered with HBO Latino to take viewers on a journey to his hometown of Medellín, Colombia, where he shares intimate stories about his upbringing and love of music—a documentary special that premiered on May 19.

VIBE Viva caught up with the global superstar to get more in-depth with his childhood and his experience growing up Latino.

Desde el espacio 🚀 #misplanessonamarte Foto @mrsandbag

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Unforgettable childhood memory:
When I was younger, around 8 or 9 years old, I would go to my living room where I had about 3 acoustic guitars. My older brother would sing and I would sit with him and sing with him or play the guitar. Those were moments that marked my life and I would never forget them. I still remember those times vividly.

Favorite home cooked meal:
My favorite meal would have to be the Bandeja Paisa. It’s a dish that is common in the region of Colombia where I’m from. It brings rice, beans, fried eggs, avocado, arepa, and it brings meat but I eat it without the meat.

Craziest Hispanic proverb as told by mami or abuela:
My mom would always tell me to "have patience." That’s the key.

Puro Breaking Bad con @kaliuchis #misplanessonamarte 📸 @achury

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Che Guevara moment (greatest moment of rebellion):
I think that my rebellious moment would have to be when was around 14-years old and I let my hair grow long. I would listen to heavy metal music. It was a moment that marked my life forever. It was then when I realized that I loved music so much and I had to do it for a living. It was what gave me strength. Bands like Metallica are huge inspirations for me. My music may not be like their's, but it inspires me just the same.

I first saw myself as a Latino when…
It has to be when I came to the United States. When I was in Colombia, I was Colombian. I didn’t have that perspective because I was never out the country. When I came to the U.S. I had to identify myself as a Latino.

Chupacabra o El Cuco:
None of those are a thing in Colombia. We didn’t have those. I can’t remember if we even had something like that.

Con @snoopdogg, hace tres años atrás y tres kilos de más #tbt

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Poor man’s meal:
Corrientazo… It’s rice, meat and arepas or potato. It’s common to get it with potatoes for the most part.

Household cure-all/remedy:
It was called Merthiolate. And Vick's Vapor Rub, of course.

Salsa, Bachata or Reggaeton:
I think it all depends on the song. I like all three but I think I connect more with salsa. Salsa contains all three.

Hoy celebrando el cumpleaños de mi Dante !

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Telenovela guilty pleasure:
I use to watch El Hombre Nuclear. It was the best.

Historical hero/heroine?
I think I would have to choose Meteoro.

Life mantra:
"Todo va estar bien." Everything is going to be okay.

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