|Since 1989, Guatemalan singer/songwriter Ricardo Arjona has been sharing his unique version of Latin pop with audiences worldwide. Arjona is highly respected as a Latin artist for his socially conscious music and his integrity in writing and performing songs. Considered a controversial and highly talented musician, Arjona won the 2007 Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album and the 2006 Latin Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Album, both from his album, Adentro, which was released in 2005.
Arjona was born in 1964 in Antigua, and developed a passion for music at a young age when his father gave him his first guitar. Much of Arjona’s music was inspired by his early experiences as a child in strict Catholic schools, which has contributed to his being identified as a “protest singer.” In fact, Arjona’s song “Jesús Verbo No Sustantivo” was a controversial song about his experiences in Catholic school as a child, which eventually earned him a recording contract with Sony.
Even as a child, Arjona was recognized for his musical talent and abilities. At the age of 12, Arjona participated in the Juventud 74 Children’s Festival in Guatemala, where he competed and won for his performance of “Gracias al Mundo,” a song written by his father.
A step away from music
As a young adult, Arjona tried to create a musical career for himself and released the single “Dejame Decir que te Amo.” When the single failed to gain popularity, Arjona decided to pursue a professional career at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, where he earned a degree in communications.
Arjona was also a great basketball player. He played for the team Leones de Marte and also toured Central America as a member of Guatemala’s National Basketball Team. For a time, Arjona held the record for the most points scored in a single game by a Guatemalan player, and there is a hall named after him at USAC.
After graduating, Arjona began teaching primary school in a rural community while he continued to play basketball and practice music in his spare time. After deciding to dedicate his life to music, Arjona moved to Mexico City, where he continued to establish himself as a protest singer by playing at music festivals and searching for a serious recording contract.
Arjona began to re-launch his music career at the age of 24 before returning to Mexico, when he performed at the OTI Festival in Spain. Once he returned to Mexico, Arjona began singing in a bar, El Chato, that was located in the Federal District of Mexico City, and composed music for other artists in order to gain income. Arjona finally found a contract through PolyGram, but his debut album, Dejame Decir Te Amo, failed, as the record label attempted to market him as a Latin-lover type, rather than honing his controversial, socially conscious style.
Arjona went back to teaching and writing for other artists for the next five years, until he moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to pursue recording once more. Arjona was finally offered a record deal from Sony and released his first album with his new label, Animal Nocturno, in 1989, which featured his claim-to-fame single, “Jesús Verbo No Sustantivo.”
Arjona proceeded to release many of his most popular albums under his contract with Sony, including Adentro, which was released in late 2005 and was nominated for the 2006 Grammy in the Latin Pop Album Category. 5to Piso was released in November 2008, followed by Poquita Ropa, which was released two years later in 2010, and his 2014 studio album, Viaje.