Latin Grammy Person of the Year 2014: Joan Manuel Serrat
There are artists who embody the very essence of Latin music. Its poetry, transcending barriers both geographical and cultural. Its power to survive beyond decades and younger generations. And its remarkable ability to combine words with rhythm and melody for the creation of timeless anthems. Catalan singer/songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat is one of them. And the tribute offered to him by The Latin Recording Academy during the 2014 Person of the Year gala underscored the staying power of such classic Serrat songs as “Mediterráneo,” “Penélope” and “Aquellas Pequeñas Cosas.”
It was an emotionally charged evening that began at full force with a solemn version of “La Saeta” performed by the trio of Lila Downs, Soledad and Niña Pastori. The percussive patterns, evoking the distant echoes of a military march, enhanced the intensity of the voices from three different countries: Mexico, Argentina and Spain. “I’m so proud to sing for you tonight,” exclaimed Lila as soon as the performance ended.
Before the capacity crowd could recover, Colombian singer/songwriter Juanes emerged onstage armed with his electric guitar and delivered a high-voltage take of “Hoy Puede Ser Un Gran Día” marked by explossive brass riffs and creamy female choruses.
Serrat has composed delicate melodies in a wide variety of formats – from the baroque harpsichords of the ‘70s LPs that made him famous across Latin America to the more sparse, acoustic sound of recent efforts. He writes in both Spanish and Catalan, and his songbook includes hundreds of musical gems. Showcasing a fair representation of his output was an interesting challenge, but the illustrious gallery of guest artists delivered the goods with ease.
November 13, 2014