Latin Artists Sing 'Imagine': Celebrate John Lennon With Moving Covers From Shakira & More
Watch Joan Sebastian, Gilberto Gil, Disney's "Violetta" and more who have covered the iconic song
At the end of November, fans in Mexico City beat the Guiness record for the most Beatles impersonators to gather in one place. Dressed as the band in circa Sgt. Pepper disguises, 294 people got together in a park to sing “Let It Be.”
All over Latin America, the influence and popularity of The Beatles has never waned, so it’s no surprise that Latin artists are among the many around the world who have paid tribute to John Lennon by singing “Imagine.”
To honor Lennon on the 35th anniversary of his death (Dec. 8), we’ve compiled these videos of versions of "Imagine" by diverse Latin artists who’ve been inspired on different occasions to spread his message of peace.
Wearing a black cowboy hat and a leather jacket revealing the picture of a dove on his t-shirt, the late Joan Sebastian recorded an emotive and understated version of “Imagine.” Sebastian participated in UNICEF’s Imagine Project, which enlisted artists from around the globe to come together and sing the song, in both videos and live concerts held simultaneously on New Year’s Eve 2014. In this video, Sebastian is “joined” by Lennon. For his personal take on “Imagine,” the great Regional Mexican singer and composer,who died this past July, speak-sings the famous song, acting out the words with hand gestures.
Violetta (Martina Stoessel)
Martina Stoessel, star of the Disney Spanish-language phenomenon Violetta and interpreter of “Libre Soy,” the Latin American version of Frozen, broke into tears as she finished singing “Imagine” before a crowd of 250,000 in her native Buenos Aires. “For sure all the parents out there know it,” the teen said when introducing the song. Stoessel, performing in a princess tutu dress, was probably not what Lennon had imagined. But the Disney star gets points for sentiment.
Jesse & Joy
Joy, of Mexican brother and sister act Jesse & Joy, sings this spare and sweet version of “Imagine,” which was included on the 2012 deluxe edition of the duo’s album ¿Con quien se queda el perro?
“Now is the time to not just imagine, but to do,” Shakira said in her moving introduction to “Imagine,” which she performed at 70th General Assembly of the United Nations this past September, appearing just after an address by Pope Francisco. The Colombian star and children’s advocate put heart into the song while images of children from around the world were projected on screens in the hall. Looking a bit out of place among the diplomatic suits in her white gown, Shakira soldiered on as many of the delegates in the tough crowd used the moment to get up from their seats and mingle.
Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s poignant jazz version of “Imagine” became something of a theme song for the Cuban pianist early in his career. Here, he performed with John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival.
In one of the more unusual performances of “Imagine,” Mexican kid-pop group Timbariche joined with Spanish child stars Parchis to demonstrate there was “peace” between the two bands, after much was made of a rumored battle between them. If you are not among the thousands of fans of either Timbariche or Parchis and have no idea what we are talking about, never mind, you can still listen to a loosely-translated version of the song in Spanish and wonder at the young singers’ apparently clown-influenced costumes.
If peace could be achieved with a smile, Thalia could be the next Gandhi. Here she is singing “Imagine” for the UNICEF campaign.
Basketball star and Barcelona native Pau Gasol is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and he also sang “Imagine” to raise awareness for the world’s children. The obvious response to this is don’t quit your day job, Pau. But still, it’s a really sweet shot.
Playing for Change
“Imagine” was the cornerstone for a “song around the world” campaign launched by the Playing for Change Foundation in 2010. Argentine-Mexican singer/songwriter Noel Schajris, known as one half of the Latin pop duo Sin Bandera (together with Leonel García) appears at the piano in this inspiring grassroots video featuring international musicians playing in outdoor settings. Artists from Brazil also participate.