It was hard not to "aww" when Juan Luis Guerra was being honored at the Billboard Latin Music Awards last night. The Dominican crooner was awarded with the Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award, a recognition given to artists with exceptional careers who transcend the music industry. Juan Luis Guerra is that and more. The singer is celebrating 35 years of his musical career this year, in which he has amassed a staggering 42 titles on the Hot Latin Songs chart, six of which hit No. 1.
He also scored 27 titles on the Latin Airplay chart, six of which went to No. 1. On the Tropical Songs airplay, he's charted 26 titles, 11 of which went to No. 1. As for his albums, he charted 15 hits on the Top Latin Albums Chart, three of which went to No. 1, and 18 hits on the Tropical Albums chart, seven of which topped the list. And that has only been on Billboard's end.
During his prolific career, Juan Luis has won multiple awards. The Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences named him "Person of the Year" in recognition of his valuable contribution to Latin music and his excellent musical trajectory. But he's also been very active helping disadvantaged families through the Juan Luis Guerra Foundation in his native Dominican Republic, aiding those with medical needs.
Juan Luis Guerra is a Dominican superstar. He's the type of artist who stays away from controversy and leads a very quiet life with his wife and kids. He lives below his means, staying humble and only getting what he really needs, while working hard to create new music that not only will make the world dance, but will also send a positive message.
He's the person I think of when people ask me what type of music we listen to in Dominican Republic. I always start with Juan Luis, and introduce him as "the biggest Dominican star," which he totally is. He managed to take tropical rhythms like merengue and bachata, which are traditional in the DR, and transcend not only socioeconomic status and have the whole country listen to them, but he also made Dominican music recognizable internationally.
Juan Luis never changed his ways — he stayed true to himself. He never needed to "crossover" back in the early 2000s, when the hottest Latin stars of the moment were making their way in the American market with English albums (most notably Shakira, Ricky Martin, and Enrique Iglesias). He laid low, knowing his music was reaching just the right ears, in his native language, with his own words that he so beautifully knows how to put into music.
Juan Luis went from being a national treasure in the DR to an international legend, while keeping it real and evolving just how he wanted, without anyone's pressure. He carefully chose the people he surrounds himself with, from his manager to his musicians, and together have continued to bless the world with the best soundtrack for any of life's moments.