Celebrating ‘Vida’: Draco Rosa Triumphs in Life and Music

At last night’s Latin Grammys, Draco Rosa took home one of the biggest awards of the night when his album “Vida” (“Life”) was named Album of the Year. Yet for the award-winning Puerto Rican singer-songwriter behind hits such as Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” and “La Vida Loca”, the biggest victory had already been won.

After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma two years ago and while undergoing vigorous cancer treatment, Draco went into the studio to painstakingly record an album which was originally pitched to him as his “swan song”.

Now cancer-free and completing a tour of the U.S. and Latin America, Draco sat down with me for a deeply honest one-on-one interview to discuss the darkest moments of his journey and what it’s like to come out on the other side.

Here are some highlights from the intimate two-part interview:

On his initial reaction about “Vida” serving as his swan song:

“The idea of ‘Vida’ comes up and I was hesitant at first cause I thought, wow, you know. Really guys? But then I found the beauty and excitement…”

On the process of recording “Vida” versus past albums:

“It was very emotional to be sitting in the studio because many times just dealing with, as some folks know, the chemotherapy or certain heavy meds that you have to live with….It was hard, at times I’d come to the studio hoping to work and I would just go to sleep on the sofa because I was just so tired but other days I was amped…”

On recording “El Tiempo Va” with Ruben Blades:

“That one really hit me hard… I think it was one of the last one’s that I sang before having my stem cell transplant, which I was completely panicked about because you sign so many papers going like, well you know if this happens and if that happens, and you’re like…ok….”

On what it’s like to tour cancer-free:

“Here we are, of course, my health is so much better that I’m actually in a weird way promoting and on tour, which I think at one point, it didn’t seem like that was going to be the case.”

On the track “Esto es Vida” with Juan Luis Guerra:

“It’s so hard to write songs that matter. Being cool and flavorful on tracks is a little easier than having a song that really matters to people…That song was really one of those moments.”

On what gets him through the day:

“Usually if you love something intensely, that thing you love will take care of you. It’s going to be a rough road but it’s beautiful and very satisfying in the end.”

Watch the second half of Draco Rosa’s interview here: