Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez, better known as Juanes, is regarded as the world's leading Spanish-language rock artist with six solo albums and a host of major music awards to his credit, including two Grammys and several Latin Grammys. His albums have sold more than 16 million copies. The Colombian star from the city of Medellín is also building a growing reputation as an active humanitarian who uses social media as well as his music and lyrics to reach out and converse with more than 10 million fans and to spread awareness about those in need, including the forcibly displaced.
His charity, the Mi Sangre Foundation, works with Colombian youth through art and education to promote peace in his country, where decades of conflict have left more than 4 million displaced people. He also promotes peace, tolerance and reconciliation through the Paz sin Fronteras (Peace Without Borders) concerts, which Juanes co-founded.
In May 2013, Juanes was presented with a Distinguished Leadership Award by the United States-based Atlantic Council in recognition of his social activism and humanitarian work through Mi Sangre. Accepting the prestigious award for his humanitarian leadership at a ceremony in Washington, DC, Juanes told an audience of 700 people that he could never have won it without the brave individuals he worked with, whom he saluted as "active peace builders."
Also in 2013, the musician won a Grammy, his second, for the album, "Juanes MTV Unplugged." The album was recorded in May 2012 at the Frank Gehry-designed New World Centre concert hall in the US city of Miami. It won that year's Latin Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Long Form Music Video. These gave Juanes an impressive career total of 19 Latin Grammys, more than any other solo artist.
Juanes has been cooperating with UNHCR in Latin America since 2005. In 2011, at a glittering ceremony in Geneva to honour that year's Nansen Refugee Award winner, he performed two songs live. He also made a special video message for UNHCR to mark World Refugee Day in 2012. That same year, he used his website to spread awareness about the crisis in Syria and the growing number of refugees in neighbouring countries.
The Colombian star has also spent time highlighting the displacement crisis in his homeland, In a powerful radio appeal in 2013, he called on refugees and internally displaced people to register their children and help them access their rights, including education and health care. His 2013 World Refugee Day message urges the public to join UNHCR in supporting families torn apart by conflict or persecution. UNHCR also benefits from Juanes' broad social media reach.