Artist Profiles: Jorge Drexler

Jorge Drexler

Jorge Abner Drexler Prada, better known as Jorge Drexler, was born on September 21, 1964. He came to the world’s attention with his unprecedented 2005 Academy Award for Best Song From a Film. His song “Al Otro Lado del Rio,” from the acclaimed movie The Motorcycle Diaries, was the first Spanish-language song ever to be nominated and the first foreign-language song in the Academy’s long history to actually win.

Jorge Drexler’s career path initially followed in the family tradition: his parents and siblings are all doctors. He received a medical education, specializing in Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat). Although medicine was the family profession, music and literature were an integral part of his upbringing.

In 1992, while still practicing medicine, Drexler released his first album La Luz Que Sabe Robar and two years later followed that with Radar. Although the albums were well received in Uruguay, success in Latin America’s smallest country of 3 million inhabitants was not enough to sustain a career.

Renowned Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquin Sabina discovered Drexler at a performance at the Teatro de Verano in Montevideo in 1994. He urged the Uruguayan musician to go to Spain, where he was sure there would be a keen interest in Drexler’s well-crafted songs.

Drexler arrived in Madrid in 1995. In Spain’s multicultural capital, he was soon placing songs with a host of well-known artists including the Cuban legend Pablo Milanés, Ana Belen, Victor Manuel, Rosario Flores, Neneh Cherry, Lorenzo Jovanotti, Paulinho Moska and Miguel Rios and sharing the stage with many of them as well. In Spain, Drexler released several albums. Vaiven (1996) was produced by Gonzalo Lasheras, songs written with Luis Eduardo Aute, Joaquin Sabina and Javier Alvarez.

Jorge Drexler

Llueve (1998) had an experimental flavor, as the singer-songwriter mixed South American milongas, zambas and candombes with a pop rhythm and sampled nature’s sounds of rain, waves and wind.

Frontera (1999), considered by many to be Drexler’s artistic breakthrough, was recorded in Uruguay with two members of the funk, rock and hip-hop group Peyote Asesino, Carlos Casacuberta and Juan Campodonico (of the Bajofondo Tango Club), as co-producers. Drexler played the traditional Uruguayan styles of candombe and murga against house and drum ‘n’ bass rhythms, creating a musical base from which to express his nostalgia and longing for his distant homeland.

The resulting album opened new doors in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. Sea (2001) was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Album in 2002. In 2003, Drexler co-authored the international hit song “Perfume”; it appeared on the album Bajofondo Tango Club which was awarded both a Latin Grammy and Argentina’s Premio Gardel.

Drexler’s first American release was his seventh album, Eco. In addition to receiving an unprecedented 2005 Academy Award for Best Song From a Film (The Motorcycle Diaries), “Al Otro Lado del Rio” was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2005 Latin Grammys and Eco received a Best Latin Pop Album nomination at the 2005 Grammy Awards.

The album 12 Segundos de Oscuridad came out in 2006; featuring 10 original songs and two covers: “High and Dry” from British band Radiohead and “Disneylandia” from Brazilian Titãs. Even though Drexler lives most of the year in Spain, his albums were partially recorded in Uruguay with Uruguayan musicians.

In 2008, Drexler released a double live album, recorded al various locations in Spain, followed by Cara B (2008), a set of previously unreleasedsongs.

Drexler worked with Colombian singer Shakira in 2009, on the Spanish-language versions of her singles “She Wolf”, “Did it Again” and “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).

The album Amar la Trama was released in 2010. It was a studio recording in front of a live audience.

Drexler released “Bailar en la cueva” in 2014, moving towards beats and dance.

Discography:

La Luz Que Sabe Robar (Ayui Records, 1992)
Radar (Ayui Records, 1994)
Vaivén (Virgin Records, 1996)
Llueve (Virgin Records, 1997)
Frontera (Virgin Records, 1999)
Sea (Virgin Records, 2001)
Eco (Warner Bros. Records, 2004)
12 Segundos de Oscuridad (Warner Bros. Records, 2006)
La Edad del Cielo (Warner Bros. Records, 2007)
Cara B (Warner Bros. Records, 2008)
Amar la Trama (Warner Bros. Records, 2010)
Bailar en la Cueva (Warner Bros. Records, 2014)
Salvavidas de Hielo (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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