Last might was a special night at the Strathmore for Julio Iglesias and his local fans. “We get to present one of the most successful recording artists, and at the same time we are here to raise money to support our arts education programs and outreach,” said Shelley Brown, Strathmore’s VP for Programming and Artistic Director for Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc. “It is a win-win for Strathmore and for Iglesias” because the entertainer’s passion is helping children and giving them hope.
As the lights are dimming, the elegantly dressed attendees are eagerly awaiting Julio Iglesias’ concert after partaking in a pre-concert charity dinner. It is past 9pm. I check out the orchestra – three guitars, keyboard, percussion, and conga drums. The musicians are ready, so are the three gorgeous backup singers standing behind the microphones. The spotlights are on, ready to start dancing and teasing with their patterns and colors. The impatient audience starts clapping. I too twist in my seat restlessly, wondering if the 70 year old’s voice is still wonderful. Julio was never a ‘born singer’ and has always been modest about his talent, recently crediting “good timing, good luck, little talent and a lot of passion, drive and discipline” for his astounding success. He also said that his goal was for “people to know that I sing better” and not wanting to hide his voice behind an orchestra in 20 years’ time. “I want to do it myself” he added, diffusing any possible rumors of retirement (US edition Huffington Post interview on 4/9/13).
Another burst of impatient clapping and the biggest selling Latin artist in history enters the stage greeted with noisy accolades. The music starts, the girls start moving their hips seductively. Julio lifts the microphone to his lips and… “Amor, Amor, Amor,” he sings, making the crowd go crazy. His unique mesmerizing voice instantly fills the air with magic. My doubts evaporate in a second. He still has it, BIG time. Not only the voice – the suave, the charm, the classy cheekiness of a ‘pop music archetypal Latin lover’ are still there, judging from the way he interacts with his beautiful and talented support singers. His confidence and wit soon become apparent. “Latinos get pregnant easily because of the combination of the romantic music and dance affecting the body,” he jokes as a prelude to Tango, which comes to life with double force, supported by dazzling moves of Argentinian dancers who take the stage, red lights dancing around them. I am mesmerized, just like the rest of the audience, which surprisingly is not female dominated. After promising to sing in English later on, he continues to woo us in Spanish, Italian, and French, paying tribute to Luciano Pavarotti and Jacques Revaux. Language barriers are not an issue. When his voice’s trademark velvety tones effortlessly caresses the strings of his Latin romantic soul, hearts melt and souls fill with longing. Such is the universal appeal of Julio Iglesias’ passion and talent.
Following amazing renditions of Crazy and Careless Whispers, the artist talks about his will to keep performing. “I sing to survive mentally and physically,, he says and delights the audience with “Me Va Me Va,” generating a standing ovation. The star has been unstoppable with 60 million fans, 5,000 concerts in 600 cities to date and 2,600 gold and platinum records to his credit. His current tour commenced on April i10th at Carnegie Hall in New York and will conclude in Marbella, Spain on August 13th after visiting numerous US, European and Canadian locations and launching his latest album 1 The Collection in the UK. Honored with special awards by his native Spain, as well as France and China, Iglesias is also a UNICEF Special Ambassador for the Performing Arts and an owner of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is the only Guinness Book of Records Diamond Disc recipient, not to mention a Grammy Award, American Music Award and the highest award of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. The crooner is not afraid to lose it: “I will have the voice until I die. I just don’t know if I will have the body.” As long as his passion for music lives on and there are 100 or even 10 people eager to listen, he says, he will be content. “I am singing because I love it when people say to me ‘thank you’. I thank them. It is a marriage” (UK edition Huffington Post interview 9/10/12).
The audience refuses to let their idol go, enticing him back to sing along to “Always on My Mind.” His last song of the evening is a Spanish version of Sinatra’s “My Way.” How pertinent. Julio Iglesias intends on doing it his way for a long time to come. When asked in last Friday’s interview with the El Tiempo Latino about his intention to write his memoirs, Julio responded “As far as my life is concerned, I have not written anything down. I am still a child.”
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes without an intermission.
2014 Spring Gala at Strathmore: Julio Iglesias played Saturday, April 26, 2014 at The Music Center at Strathmore-5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. Check their Events and Tickets Calendar for future performances.
Julio Iglesias’ website.