Join the conversation:

Joan Manuel Serrat is the Latin Grammy awards Person of the Year

Joan Manuel Serrat is the Latin Grammy awards Person of the Year

Posted by Liliana Castaño on November 21, 2014

Outside a mountainside cafe just below Barcelona's century-old amusement park, a couple approaches Joan Manuel Serrat, the Latin Grammy Awards' 2014 Person of the Year. From afar it looks like a typical encounter with adoring fans, but it turns out these are two anxious French tourists whose bag was snatched by kids on a moped. Serrat, whose navy linen pants and jacket are brightened by a Mediterranean-blue T-shirt, calls police from his cellphone. When a patrol car arrives 10 minutes later, he gets up from his chair. "I want them to see it's me," he says with concern and a grin. A few minutes after he shows his face, the parking lot is filled with cops.

Serrat, 70, first gained his reputation as a man of the people in the 1960s, when he was the skinny kid with shaggy hair and caterpillar eyebrows who had the first No. 1 pop hit, "Canco de Matinada," on the Spanish charts in Catalan, the language of his native city. It was a political as well as musical milestone in the years of the Francisco Franco dictatorship, when Castilian Spanish was the only officially recognized language among the country's many tongues. On tour in 1969, he began his long love affair with fans in Latin America, where, as in Spain, his lyrics have been adopted as beloved words to live by. His popularity throughout the Spanish-speaking world explains his recognition by the Latin Recording Academy, which will fete him at a gala on Nov. 19 on the eve of the Latin Grammys, as part of the awards' 15th-anniversary celebration.

"Serrat is a poet whose popularity is massive," says Jordi Bianciotto, music critic for Barcelona's El Periodico newspaper. Earlier this year, Serrat was named the "Best Spanish Musician" by readers of the national paper El Pais. His biggest international hit, 1971's "Mediterraneo," an ode to his native land and culture, was previously voted the most popular song in the history of Spain by viewers of Spanish TV. (Serrat acknowledges that earnings from the hit helped put his children through school.) These days, fans tweet lyrics from his songs at @maestroserrat@quotesjmserrat and other handles. One translated tweet: "And if you need to cry it's better to do it facing the sea."

Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz goes so far as to call Serrat's lyrics "the word of revelation." "I don't close my eyes when I write," says Serrat. "I don't cover my ears when I write or stop touching things around me when I write." He digs in his pocket and takes out the notebook he always carries with him. "What I write is the result of what I live and what I see and what I feel."

Link To Full Article: 

Facebook comments



Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across PanamericanWorld.



Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across the Caribbean Region on PanamericanWorld.