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Giveaway: Juanes

UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Austin City Limits will tape a performance by Juanes on Monday, March 4th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We are giving away a limited number of passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by Saturday, March 2nd at 5pm.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified via email. Duplicate entries for a single taping will be automatically voided. Tickets are not transferable and will be voided if sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras, computers or recording devices allowed in the venue.

Last year, Colombian superstar Juanes experienced a moment of reckoning.

Even though his career as one of the quintessential Latin artists of the past 20 years – with sales of millions of records worldwide – was still enjoying critical and commercial acclaim, the singer/songwriter felt that something was amiss.

“I had made two albums – 2017’s Mis Planes Son Amarte and 2019’s Más Futuro Que Pasado – with young producers from Colombia,” Juanes explains sitting on the balcony of his mother’s house, a sweeping vista of Medellín in front of him. “It was a fascinating experience, because these producers were from a different generation than mine, and their soundscapes are seeped in the urbano genre. Creating music with a computer is great fun, but after a while I felt the need to record a new batch of songs played by a band made of actual people. Especially because that’s what my live shows are all about: a group with drums, guitars, keyboards, bass and percussion giving everything they have in real time.”

Juanes’ first step was to collaborate with legendary Los Angeles-based producer Sebastián Krys on 2021’s Grammy and Latin Grammy winning Origen, a smoldering collection of covers paying tribute to his kaleidoscopic musical influences. Invigorated by Krys’ empathetic feedback, Juanes soldiered on with the 11 songs that make up Vida Cotidiana – his first album of original material in four years.

“I think this is my best album as a musician, composer and performer,” he enthuses. “All my previous experiments were certainly valid – getting out of your safe zone and feeling uncomfortable can provide a transformative experience. But this new session returns to the places that are closely connected with my essence.”

From the somber power-rock chords of “Gris” and the funky accents of the politically charged “Canción Desaparecida” to the stately orchestral touches of “Mayo” and the infectious vibes of “Cecilia” – a duet with Dominican master Juan Luis Guerra informed by the spiraling grooves of Cuban son and Afrobeats – Vida Cotidiana confirms Juanes as one of the most soulful practitioners of quality Latin pop-rock.

“’Cecilia’ offers a direct link to the sounds of the Caribbean,” he says. “I sent Juan Luis a snippet of the song, and he chose to be part of it right away. My wife cried like a baby when she listened to the finished track. All these years, she’s been working out to Juan Luis’ music every day of her life. It’s a very special song for us.”

Lyrically, Juanes is not afraid to question and examine the human soul and its many contradictions.

“A song like ‘Gris’ stems from a very painful moment,” says Juanes, whose emotional honesty has defined his career even from his days with heavy metal outfit Ekhymosis. “At the time, my wife and I were experiencing a short-lived but serious crisis. When I wrote this song, it was the morning after an argument – a point where all hope was lost. I thought our relationship was over. I went to my home studio, started playing, and the song emerged like a miracle. It appeared fully formed, like life itself – those are the little moments that inspire you to try out lyrics, chords and melodies.”

The refined sophistication that defines the new songs is not coincidental. As it turns out, Juanes took advantage of the pandemic and went back to school. With social media as a launching pad, he enlisted a number of instructors and devised for himself a private education in advanced music making.

“You could say that I created my own university,” he laughs. “I wanted to expand my harmonic horizons and enlarge my language – both in terms of words and sonic possibilities.”

Juanes’ teachers covered a wide spectrum of disciplines: he studied guitar with Berklee College of Music instructor Tomo Fujita; music harmony with renowned teacher Guillermo Vadalá; singing with vocal coach Eric Vetro; and poetry with acclaimed Cuban author Alexis Díaz Pimienta.

“I’m very disciplined about my work,” he explains. “In the morning I exercise, take a shower and go right into the studio – every day of my life. And in the middle of the pandemic, when things looked bleak, I kept reassuring myself about the need to carry on with the hope of trying my best. The moment I stopped thinking about writing a hit, I felt liberated. Vida Cotidiana came to life only when I started to create music without trying to second guess myself.”

“I wanted to reconnect Juanes with his essence,” agrees producer Sebastián Krys. “I felt he had wandered away from his artistic identity. We talked about returning to his initial inspiration, when there wasn’t any pressure to write radio hits. I encouraged him to write about whatever was happening in his life.”

Once Krys and Juanes agreed on these parameters, the creativity flowed freely. The sessions yielded more than 40 songs, and the singer even considered releasing a double album. Selecting only the best of the best resulted in an emotionally charged collection that focuses on universal love as the healing force that informs every single aspect of his life. “It’s a very profound record, but also filled with freedom and joy,” says Juanes. “It’s exactly the kind of album that I wanted to make. I was desperate to return to the place where I can finally rediscover my true self.”

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