Think of Juanes as the Colombian version of Bruce Springsteen or Bono.
The 43-year-old rock star, who has performed on The Tonight Show multiple times and was the first exclusively Spanish-language performer on Dancing with the Stars, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Today show, will sing with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and Keystone State Boychoir at the Festival of Families on Saturday evening. He spoke with The Inquirer about what he likes about Pope Francis' message and whether or not he's nervous.
How did you get involved in this?
We received an invitation about four months ago. I was at home reading my emails. My manager told me, and I couldn't believe it. I was in shock. I'm truly honored to be part of this.
Why do you think you were chosen?
I have no idea! I've been asking that question to myself. But I feel so happy to be a part of this. I'm a very faithful person. Family is the center of everything for me. I grew up in a Catholic family. That I'm allowed to perform for Pope Francisco is incredible. I think it's going to be beautiful.
How do you mentally prepare yourself for something like this?
I've been preparing for this moment for my whole life. I'm going to perform three songs, two of them with social content in the lyrics. "A Dios Le Pido (I Ask God)," "Odio Por Amor," and "Untitled" [an unrecorded song he debuted at the United Nation's #ShareHumanity event celebrating World Humanitarian Day in August].
You're heavily involved in humanitarian causes and have your own foundation, Mi Sangre.
I feel it's so important to see each other and recognize ourselves through each other's eyes, and help each other. I feel it in my heart. Everything is happening because of music and art. Music transformed my life in a beautiful way. It's a way to find love and give back to life.
Is there something specific you like about Pope Francis' message?
For me, he's a revolutionary. What he's been doing is incredible. He's giving a new direction to the church, close to what the world is now, and that's important. He's very respectful and inclusive. How can I say this in English? He's sending such a powerful message of peace and the way of seeing life.
You said you grew up Catholic. Were you heavily involved in the church?
When I was in school, I used to sing. In my school, we would go to Mass every Friday. For me religion is having a manual for faith. It transformed my life in a positive way. Without faith, I would not be here.
So you didn't expect this while singing in your school choir?
It's so totally unexpected. This is a dream. I'm still in shock. It's so beautiful for me. For a couple of minutes, I'll be connected with many people in the world. The music is magical and beautiful and I believe it's super powerful.
So are you nervous?
I'm a little bit nervous. For me to feel nervous is for the warmth and respect I have for the audience. I'm a little bit nervous, more happy.
For more about Pope performers, see Julia Terruso's interview with Aretha Franklin.