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Amarte es un Placer
Carmen Teresa Roiz is associate editor for VISTA.

The 29-year-old singer has launched a new record, with new songs written by him. Some even dare to say the lyrics reveal more about his feelings than he cares to admit.

It's not a secret. Luis Miguel doesn't go around giving interviews. He doesn't like to talk about his love life or his family life. His privacy may be his greatest treasure. "Many people have talked about my private life, they have even written books about it. It hurts sometimes and bothers me when rumors begin about one's personal life. Even lies are being said; lies over lies. And it gets to a point when it's difficult to find what's true anymore. The truth of the matter is that I hope, someday, to say it all, maybe in a book," he said during a recent press conference in Madrid, where he presented his latest record, Amarte es un Placer.

Meanwhile, his fans will keep on guessing. Who is this man who sings with his heart, yet tries to keep his emotions to himself?

Luis Miguel was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 29 years ago. His parents were Luis Rey, a Spanish singer, and his mother, Marcella Basteri, a beautiful model of Italian ancestry. When his father realized what a wonderful voice his 10-year-old son had, he became his manager and launched his career. By the time "Micky" was 14, his records had already turned to gold. It was hello to fame.

What effect did this upbringing have on the artist, the man we see today? Well, what might have destroyed someone weaker, perhaps helped to develop a strong character in Luis Miguel. All you have to do is listen to what he says about his music. "I can't go on changing my style from one record to the other according to the latest fad. I don't go by what is in fashion, nor by what sells or is considered marketable. I go by what's in my heart, what goes with my style and how I sing. That's how I am. I can't say that it's my secret, because it's not a secret, it's just the way I choose my music."

What made him strong also may have contributed to turning him into a loner. "I'm the same person I've always been. I'm not given to going out, to going to public places. That's not my character nor my personality. It's not my way. When I went out recently, I was surrounded by press and photographers... I keep on being, I don't know, a loner? But I enjoy my privacy. I need my space and my home, and my partner and all that," he commented, when asked if he had changed his ways. Luis Miguel is one of the most talented Hispanic male singers today, with a voice equal to none. Gimmick-free, maybe his aura of mystery has made him even more appealing, but the formula, if you want to call it that, has worked. He has sold over 35 million records; won four Grammy Awards; been named "Best Selling Latin Artist of the Year" at Monaco's World Music Awards in '90 and '95; and recorded with Frank Sinatra "Come Fly with Me," for the album Duets II. He was later invited to perform at the televised celebration of Frank Sinatra's 80th birthday, alongside the likes of Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan and others. He was the first Latin singer to completely sell out New York's Madison Square Garden, and is one of the few who have been honored with a star on the famous Hollywood Boulevard. There's more, of course, a lot more. His list of achievements is impressive.

"Amarte es un Placer"

Now, Luis Miguel assumes a new responsibility, writing and arranging many of the songs of his new record, Amarte es un Placer and reuniting with two renowned composers, Armando Manzanero and Juan Carlos Calderón. "This is the first record where I also collaborated as a composer, more than the usual. Here something special was done, probably because I had more time to write a few things... I think it's the beginning. Like they say, practice makes perfect. In the future I will be writing other things, deeper thoughts coming from the heart. In this case I think it was a good start and I hope to develop and improve in this sense." This album comes right after the monumental success he had singing boleros and beautiful love songs. It reflects a certain change of pace. "After selling more than a million romances why not turn to record an album of pop music?" he asked. Then he adds, "This is a record we did thinking of my next tour, of live performances. This is the first time I recorded with the same musicians who will be touring with me... It's possible that my next production may include more boleros, that it may be more classic. But I like the idea of combining genres, so people get different things."

According to Luis Miguel, his music must reflect the way he feels at a particular given time. "Like in this case... this record is called Amarte es un Placer (loving you is a pleasure) and if you read between the lines, I think that you know who I'm talking about," he said provocatively. Does this mean that he is seriously involved? As everybody knows, he has been seen lately with the also famous Mariah Carey. But when asked about it, he smiled, joked and gave a vague sort of answer. "¿Novia? Did you say novia? That's not in my vocabulary. I never use it; neither marriage nor children. But I hope to have the fortune of being able to keep the company that I like, that I need, that I long for. "

And how about a duet with Mariah, wouldn't that be a good combination? "It's a good combination," he said, after pausing awhile. "But I don't know, I avoid mixing my professional life with my personal life. It's beautiful to admire the talent of someone who does work well, far beyond your relationship. To admire someone you love... a father, a son, a friend, your girlfriend, it can also be beautiful. In this case, there's great mutual admiration and that's beautiful. That's all."

Singing to a Love Gone Bad?

There's a song in the album, Sol, Arena y Mar, that many say is about a former romance. Some even hint it may have to do with Daisy Fuentes, the popular TV personality with whom Luis Miguel was involved. He didn't say anything about it, of course, but when he was asked whether this was a sad song, he strongly denied it. "No, it's not. I think it's something positive. If you have a relationship that does not work, life should go on. Sadness, depression, doesn't take you anywhere. One must keep on going."

Will Luis Miguel Record in English?

Apparently, not for the time being. "I think that Spanish is a good language. I like my language and I really feel proud of it. I'm not saying that I won't do it in the future, sing in English, I mean. But it's just that it's not the right time for me. Why should I do it, just because everybody else is doing it?"

And what does he says about the recent success of fellow Latinos like Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias? "I think that's good, other people's success in what they do.They should be recognized, it doesn't bother me to hear about anybody else's success. I think that's great. I'm pretty confident of what I am, of what I do."

Regarding his relationship with other artists, Luis Miguel also expressed how he felt. "I think that no one understands an artist better than another artist. This is a very complicated and hard career. I have nothing against other artists, on the contrary, if I did, I would be going against my own interests because I'm also an artist. I feel that some record companies and managers develop certain strategies that are really hateful. But the artists, no, they deserve respect. Comparisons are also hateful. But again, everyone who is recognized by the public and by the media, deserves to be applauded. It's wonderful! And I wish the best to each one of them."

A new image?

Many observers say Luis Miguel has changed, that he has mellowed a bit.They even hint that the elusive recluse is more accessible than before. Is it true? "Not really, although I may have had more time for my personal life lately. I've been out a couple of times. That's why people are under the impression that I'm going out a lot, and it's not true."

There may be signs that he's becoming less of an introvert. Even though he maintains that his private life is off limits, he has -inadvertently?-allowed a peek. "I'm a happy guy, at the personal and professional levels. I have the love of the public. People who come to see me at my concerts are extremely affectionate." Satisfied? "I know I have more defects than virtues, but I still aim towards perfection, professionally and personally. And although this may be seen as a virtue, it can also hurt you... I'm pleased, but I also take it all with great humility. I really appreciate what everyone has done for me, especially the public."

His music also is sending a message. "I want to send positive messages-love, peace, beautiful emotions, good feelings. We need that. There are too many people doing negative things and we all have the responsibility to do something positive and I will do it through my music."



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