Carlos Vives

Latin bonding

11/13/2023 · By Roberto C. Rascón
Carlos Vives, musician

Carlos Vives, who aspires to two Latin GRAMMYs™ Awards at the upcoming edition (16th of November), brought together thousands of people at the Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid to celebrate the Hispanidad. With contagious joy and without giving up on his roots, the Colombian artist has managed to bring together the entire Latin community with his music, those “madly diverse people that we are,” in his own words.

“The power of music lies in bringing people together, in telling the story of everything that we naturally are.” And that’s what Carlos Vives (Santa Marta, 1961) achieved during the concert he put on on the 14th of October at the Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid, where he brought together around 18,000 people. The event, as part of the Hispanidad celebration, in collaboration with Iberia, was a commemoration of the artist’s 30 years in the industry. A career in which Spain has played a vital role. “Thirty years ago, I started to find my sound and I felt like there was something that connected me to many places in the world, but especially Spain,” he admits. A country where, in just a few days, he could win the Latin GRAMMYs™ that’s been playing hard to get for six nominations: Album of the Year.

When Vives landed in Spain in the mid-1990s, he discovered a series of artists who campaigned for their roots and that inspired him. “I’d been taught that you had to sing one way and speak another way —he remembers—. When I got here, there was a movement where everyone sang like they spoke and where everyone was seeking to be trendy through their roots.” This artist has never turned his back on his roots. “As a Colombian, I played around with our music and I understood that our sound wasn’t something from the past, but that we could be on trend based on our inheritance, on our identity,” he explains.

“When I got to Spain, there was a movement where everyone was seeking to be trendy through their roots”

Carlos Vives brought vallenato folk music into the current era and opened the door to other Colombian artists, like Juanes, who didn’t want to miss the celebration in Madrid. Ana Mena, Rozalén and Carlos Baute were also in attendance as guest artists, to the audience’s great joy. Proudly flaunting their flags (Colombia, Spain, Venezuela, Perú and Ecuador, among others) and their accents, those present where a true reflection of the diversity the musician celebrates. “The concert was the perfect opportunity to bring together the Hispanic community and feel like we are siblings and that we should feel proud of that. I’m from a place that is a crossroads of cultures, which has allowed me to understand all that diversity,” he declares.

Music in Spanish and the Latin GRAMMYs™
The 24th Annual Latin GRAMMYs™ Awards will be held on the 16th of November at the Conference and Exhibition Centre of Seville (FIBES), in collaboration with Iberia. These awards have given Latin music the space it deserves, in Carlos Vives’ opinion. “The industry started to value music in Spanish. We grew up thinking that singing in Spanish was less valuable than doing so in other languages and we’re showing the world that the opposite is true, that singing in Spanish is more powerful.” Because Latin music is at its best, ousting English-speaking music from the record charts. At this edition, this Colombian artist is nominated to two awards: Album of the Year and Best Cumbia/Vallenato Album.

“We’re all talented. While growing up, we need to discover it to be at the service of society”

The Latin GRAMMYs™ raise awareness of the talent within Latin music and Vives celebrates being part of the Academy that grants them. “For me, voting is really important. You discover all kinds of music, from classic to folk, from across Latin America and think: Wow, this is incredible!” For this musician, talent is a gift we must share. “We all have a purpose and we’re all talented. While growing up, we need to discover it to be at the service of society. Talent is that value you bring and share. But practice makes perfect, which is why, without hard work, talent means nothing,” he assures us. This from someone who, at this stage, has definitely perfected his art.