Open up Julio Iglesias' official Web site and it's astonishing to find information on this celebrated Spanish artist translated into more than 20 languages, reflecting his appeal to so many fans in so many lands.
"Life has been so generous to me and it has given me the opportunity to discover the whole world, thanks to my profession," Julio says. "Music is a universal language, this is why, wherever I go, I don't necessarily need to speak the language of the country to set up a strong connection with people. But, I have always considered it is important for an international artist to communicate to his fans all over the world in their own language, when possible. This is why my Web site has been translated into so many languages, and I have recorded songs in my mother tongue and many others."
Iglesias is the best-selling Latin singer of all time and one of the world's Top 10 best-selling recording artists in any genre. Over the course of a 40-year career he has recorded songs in 14 languages, sold more than 300 million albums, and produced numerous hits. It is estimated that he has performed more than 5,000 concerts in more than 600 cities around the world.
Photo courtesy of Julio Iglesias’ office
Most recently, in mid-February he participated in Argentina's bicentennial celebrations, performing a free concert before thousands in Buenos Aires. And in May, he will appear at the ninth Mawazine Rhythms of the World Festival, in Rabat, Morocco, sharing the bill with Elton John, Sting and B.B. King.
Moved by the tragic events in Haiti, Iglesias flew to the earthquake-ravaged country in late January, and met with the president.
"I went to Haiti because I wanted not only to send help immediately after the tragedy, but also to see with my own eyes what people really needed," he reports. "President Prval and his wife were very kind and accompanied me. I was deeply impressed, as I've never seen such a disaster. Haiti needs long-term support from the international community and from every single person who can give a hand."
* Julio Iglesias performs at 7:30 p.m. March 16 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. Tickets are $65, $80, $95 and $125 plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
* Pink Martini performs at the MACC's Castle Theater at 7:30 tonight. Tickets are $45 plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
Known for his gift as a romantic balladeer, earlier in his life Iglesias excelled at soccer, playing goalkeeper for Real Madrid's youth team. A severe car accident, when he was 20, ended this career path. Semi-paralyzed for more than a year and a half, it was while he was convalescing that he began composing poetry and thinking about music.
"I did not sing as a child, but I have always liked music," he recalls. "After the car accident I had to give up football, and a nurse gave me a guitar. That was my first real contact with music, and, step by step, my life changed completely."
Once he recovered, he traveled to England to study English, and on weekends began singing in a local pub, songs by Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and the Beatles.
So when did he first realize that he could really move audiences?
"The moment I truly understood the magic of music, and the impact it has on audiences was when I performed in front of a crowd and won the first prize in my career, the Benidorm Song Contest in Spain."
Staring in the early 1970s, Iglesias began recording songs and albums in various languages: Japanese, German, Portuguese, French and Italian. In 1983, he received the Diamond Record Award by the Guinness Book of World Records for selling more records in more languages than any other musical artist in history.
Quite remarkably he has reportedly earned more than 2,600 platinum and gold records internationally.
"My most important achievement as an artist is being loved by people around the world," he says. "There is no platinum or gold record which can reward you more."
Over the years he has collaborated with an astonishing array of artists including Frank Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, Plcido Domingo, Sting, Stevie Wonder and Willie Nelson.
It was a duet with Willie in 1984 on "To All The Girls I've Loved Before," a No. 1 country hit, which brought him broad appeal in the U.S.
" 'To All The Girls I've Loved Before' is, without any doubt, the duet which opened the doors of the American market for me," he notes. "I couldn't say which is my favourite duet, because I left a part of my heart in all of them, but this one is special to me indeed. And this is because of the song and also because I deeply enjoyed recording with Willie."
In 2006, he released "Romantic Classics," his first English language album since 1994's "Crazy." The album included popular songs by George Michael, Burt Bacharach, Foreigner and Harry Nilsson.
" 'Romantic Classics' is an album based on a simple question I made to myself: What makes a pop song classic?" he explains. "What kind of songs succeed to reach not only the top 10, but also peoples' hearts, forever?"
As a suave entertainer whose romantic songs are loved by countless women worldwide, one wonders if there's ever been a downside to being so handsome and sexy.
"I have never considered myself a handsome guy," he suggests. "I am grateful to the people who do, but I've always thought I am quite a common person physically. Any downside? For me, none. Some journalists have written about me having 3,000 women in my life, but it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I have always said they should have added at least two more "0's" to this number."
Ask Pink Martini's sultry lead singer China Forbes about the band's vision for their latest fabulous album, "Splendor in the Grass," and she says it was something like, "Let's write a bunch of kooky songs and put them together."
Described by the band's founder, Thomas Lauderdale, as "a cross between a 1940s musical and the United Nations," Pink Martini inhabits a unique universe that's glamorous, lush, sophisticated, fun and worldly.
Drawing from a vast palette and adept at so many styles, this Portland, Ore.-based, 13-member ensemble knows no boundaries.
"It's like this amazing cake you can bake with lots of ingredients," says Forbes. "It's fun to break through barriers that we have to be limited."
And thus on "Splendor in the Grass," the opening lullaby "Ninna Nanna" is sung in Neapolitan (an Italian dialect from Naples), there's the lively tango of "And Then You're Gone" and the French cha cha of "O Est Ma Tete," a cover of the Italian pop hit "Tuca Tuca," featuring the actual sitar played by Peter Sellers in the 1968 comedy "The Party," a unique version of the Carpenters "Sing" performed as an English-Spanish duet with a cast member of Sesame Street and a children's choir, and infusions of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto and a little Schubert.
"Thomas is a classical pianist who became the leader of the band, which wasn't what he ever thought would happen, so he employs any opportunity to return to his roots," Forbes explains. "So there's Chopin mixed in with a pop sound."
From its early '60s-inspired cover to its chic, retro sound. the album pays loving homage to bygone eras. "Thomas is really a historian, he loves the beauty of vintage cameras and Hollywood posters from the '30s and '40s, and black-and-white films, and everything he loves is from the past, and so that informs the band," Forbes continues. "It's got this infusion of nostalgia. We're more elegant and retro than most bands, but it's not kitschy and campy. We have serious musicians who are really good."
Forbes plays an integral role in assisting the band's international appeal by singing in 14 languages.
"I'm not fluent, but I can channel it," she says. "I have a way of being able to pretend that I'm Greek or Arabic or Turkish, or any of the languages."
Released in 1997, Pink Martini's debut album "Sympathique," struck internationally, eventually selling platinum in France and gold in Greece, and racking up sales of more than 700,000. Their follow up album, "Hang On Little Tomato," included original songs in French, Italian, Japanese, Croatian, Spanish and English, and sold more than 500,000 copies, certified Gold in Canada, Greece and Turkey.
Frequent visitors to the Cannes Film Festival, one year they were joined by Elton John and Ringo Starr.
"Ringo and Elton took over so I stepped aside and let Elton sing," she recalls. "Basically we were the band for a benefit party, and Sharon Stone was a fantastic auctioneer. She said, 'What would you bid for me to dance?' And someone bid a lot. Then she said, 'what if I get Elton John and Ringo Starr to come up and play?' So they played 'Great Balls of Fire' with our band."
In these challenging economic times it's quite remarkable that the group can successfully field so many musicians.
"It's pretty crazy, it doesn't make a lot of sense," Forbes notes. "Thomas just wants the beauty and fabulousness that he imagines to happen. He has a very optimistic worldview that trickles through the music to the audience. People who come to our shows feel so life affirmed and uplifted. It's like this treasure. Who has a harp on stage, and these beautiful non-synthesized instruments, played by people who are really good? Nobody's doing that, it doesn't make sense for the bottom line. That's why the whole experience is so magical. We get to spread joy, get people to dance and sing together, and get families together.
"And I love how the possibilities are endless. Between Thomas' imagination and mine, and everyone else's in the band we can do anything. We're not in a genre that's confining us. That's really wonderful."
Celebrating eight years of gracing Maui with the most eclectic, free-form, noncommercial programming, Mana'o Radio will host its annual BarryFest from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Kahului's Keopuolani Park Amphitheater (next to the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens).
Honoring the memory of station co-founder Barry Shannon, the impressive fest lineup includes Amy Hanaiali'i, John Cruz, The Vince Esquire Band, The Throwdowns, the Mana'o Radio Orchestra, Soul Concepts, Haiku Hillbillys, Dr. Nat & Rio Ritmo, Mojo Gumbo, Jazz Caf Regulators, Gail Swanson, Hula Honeys, DLV Trio and Eddie Tanaka & Friends.
The event includes a silent auction, sales of albums and logo-wear, and local food vendors. Admission is $25 for adults, and $15 for 512 years old and kupuna 65 and over.
Bringing their "Waves of Change" island tour to Casanova tonight, Cerro Negro melds Spanish guitars, with Latin and Middle Eastern percussion to create gypsy flamenco-influenced acoustic music. Based in San Diego, the group has opened for Latin music stars Eddie Palmieri, Arturo Sandoval, and Poncho Sanchez.