With a degree in publicity and numerous acting roles on his resumé, Carlos Vives could have chosen a route in life that didn't include sold-out arenas or recording studios. But how else would've Vives put all the musical influences he picked up as a kid in Santa Marta, Colombia, to good use?
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After moving to Bogotá at an early age, the Colombian singer/songwriter developed an appreciation for the ballads associated with the capital city, native Indian music from the Andes, and the accordion-driven vallenato from the coast. In 1993 Vives reached deep into those roots and pulled out Clásicos de la Provincia, a collection of traditional vallenato songs. Most of the songs had been previously recorded by other artists in Colombia, but Vives's blending of rock and pop influences with the accordion was enough to credit him with putting Colombian music on the map. On Vives's latest album, El Rock de Mi Pueblo, he proves he can meld traditional sounds with hip-hop and Cuban son. In "Maletas de Sueños," Vives sings about having a bag full of dreams in which he includes his heart. And by now it's safe to say that bag also includes his music. -- Fernando Ruano, Jr.