When I first arrived at my home in Puerto Colombia, my 21 year-old host sister only listened to one song. Time and time and time and time again. It was “Una y Otra Vez” by Manuel Medrano.
To be honest, I didn’t mind hearing the song time and time again (which, by the way, is more or less what Medrano sings in the song – that he wants to kiss/touch/make love time and time again forever with whomever he is serenading). Medrano’s voice is deep and sexy. The lyrics are simple and romantic enough to make any girl swoon .
Even though I heard that song over and over, and repeatedly asked my host sister who the artist was, I never remembered. Then, six months later, I was in a class with some of my 11th graders. One of them asked me to play the song “Bajo el Agua” from Manuel Medrano. As soon as I heard the voice through the speakers, I knew it was the same voice I used to hear day after day. This time, I managed to remember the name Manuel Medrano.
The story of how he began playing guitar is so silly stupid that I can’t help but repeat it. One year while he was still in school, he failed his classes and needed to repeat the grade. He had asked his parents for a Nintendo game system for Christmas, but instead as punishment, they gave him a crappy guitar (what a punishment :roll:). He had no idea how to play, but started teaching himself. A few years later, he was playing covers on YouTube and working on his own songs in bars in Bogotá, and in 2014 at the age of 27, Medrano released his first independent single. By 2015, he was signed onto Warner. The following year he won Latin Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Songwriting Album.
Because his music is nothing like what I am used to hearing here on the coast (where’s the accordion? where’s the shoutout to Chawa?), I assumed Medrano was from the interior or from another country. Nope. He’s from Cartagena. It’s just that he doesn’t play music of a traditional Latin American genre. His music rather reminds me of John Mayer – raspyish voice singing romantic and sexy lyrics to guitar, sometimes veering into jazz or blues territory.