Juan Luis Guerra Seijas (born June 7, 1957) is a Dominican singer, songwriter, and self-producer who has sold over 30 million records, and won numerous awards including nine Latin Grammy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and two Latin Billboard Music Awards. He won 5 Latin Grammy awards in 2007 tying him with Juanes for the record of most Latin Grammys won in one night. He was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and is the son of Olga Seijas and Gilberto Guerra, a basketball player.
He is one of the most internationally recognized Dominican artists in decades past. His pop style of merengue and bolero and Afro-pop/Latin fusion have garnered him considerable success outside the Dominican Republic. Juan Luis Guerra is sometimes associated with the popular Dominican music called bachata, and while this association is partially true, he actually uses the basics of Bachata rhythm with a more bolero feel to the melodies in some of his songs. He does not limit himself to one style of music, instead, he incorporates diverse rhythms like merengue, bolero-bachata, balada, salsa, rock and roll, and even gospel as in the song "La Gallera". "Ojalá Que Llueva Café" ("If Only It Rained Coffee") is one of his most critically acclaimed self-written and composed pieces. A remix of "La llave de mi corazón" ("The key to my heart") with Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas is also an example of his fusing of different genres.
Before he committed to music, Guerra studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. He then studied guitar and music theory at El Conservatorio Nacional de Música de Santo Domingo, then decided to go to the United States to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. He graduated from Berklee in 1982 with a diploma in jazz composition. After his return to the Dominican Republic from he released his first album, Soplando (1984) with a group of local musicians that subsequently became known as Juan Luis Guerra y 440. The group members were Maridalia Hernández, Roger Zayas-Bazán, and Mariela Mercado. The band's name in Spanish is officially publicized as Cuatro Cuarenta (Four Forty), a shortening of the normally strict reading of number "four hundred and forty". The 440 part of the band's name refers to the standard tuning of A440. Reportedly the name for the band came from a practice session where Juan Luis's brother suggested the name because the name would reflect how "in-tune and precise they were". According to Guerra, this first album was based on jazz tunes and concepts he had learned at Berklee, and it "wasn't intended to be a commercial hit." Subsequently, however, he began to write more merengues.