Education & Adolescence
Ricardo Arjona was born in the small city of Jocotenango, Guatemala in 1964. At the tender age of 12, Ricardo first showed the world his talent for singing and music at the Festival Infantil Juventud ‘74. He wowed the crowd and won the competition performing a song written by his father called Gracias Al Mundo. Ricardo’s love for music and performing was cemented after this experience. Though he pursued other hobbies, music always remained an integral part of his life.
While Ricardo Arjona is famous for his singing and songwriting talent, his lesser known talent was playing basketball. He was so talented as an athlete that he was asked to join Guatemala’s national basketball team. During his time as a star basketball player, Ricardo earned the record for the most points scored in a single game by a Guatemalan.
In school Ricardo initially worked toward a degree in architecture and engineering at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. His field of study changed when Ricardo decided he wanted to use his skills to teach. He later graduated from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala with a degree in communication sciences.
For a brief time after college, Ricardo decided to try his hand as a professional musician. He was picked up by the now defunct record label Polygram. Marketed as a latin lover type, his debut album titled Dejame Decir Que Te Amo never made it on the top latin albums chart. When the album failed to succeed, a discouraged Ricardo spent several years covering songs written by other artists and working as a primary school teacher.
Ricardo’s career as an educator began at a rural primary school called Santa Elena. There, he claims to have spent six hours a day instructing and the rest of the school day playing football with his pupils. This interesting method of teaching was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Education. A representative from the ministry was sent out to evaluate the effects of this teaching style. According to the representative, it was later found that the students' education level was notably above average.
Eventually, he released his emotional song Jesus Verbo No Sustantivo about his childhood experiences in Catholic school. This song was picked up by Sony who later offered him a contract. With that song, Ricardo’s musical abilities got the recognition they deserved. In 1992, his album titled Animal Nocturno was released. This album was an instant hit and gained the Latin artist many fans. Over the next four years, he released another two albums which garnered praise from both fans and critics alike.
Since the beginning of his career, Ricardo has released over 31 albums and singles with varying musical styles. While his most popular songs have a Latin pop feel, he has also written wildly popular ballads and acapella songs. Released in 1996, his album titled Si El Norte Fuera El Sur, won the title Rock Album of the year 1997 at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. His latin pop album Santo Pecado was a contender for Best Male Pop Vocal Album in the 4th Annual Latin Grammy Awards. No matter what genre Ricardo chooses to focus his next album on, it is sure to be a hit.
Awards and Honors
One of the most successful Latin American artists of all time, Ricardo Arjona has sold over 20 million albums and counting. He has made a huge impact on not only his own country, but all around the world. In 1993, the then President of Guatemala presented Ricardo with the Rafael Álvarez Ovalle Order. This award is named after Rafael Álvarez Ovalle, an immensely talented musician who is credited for writing the Guatemalan national anthem.
Several places close to the heart of this famous Latin American singer have honored his accomplishments. At his alma mater USAC, a library hall was named in his honor. In his birthplace of Jocotenango, there is now a street named after him.
During his career as a musician, Ricardo has earned many prestigious titles. A Grammy Award, A Latin Grammy Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award, a Latin Heritage Award, two Billboard Latin Music Awards, a silver & golden torch and two silver seagulls from the 2010 Vina del Mer International song festival, a Latin Trajectory of the Year Award from the 2010 Orgullosamente Latino Awards as well as several awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Ricardo Arjona is truly a man with talent worth celebrating.