After defeating death two years ago, Jose Luis Rodriguez “El Puma” delivers a heartfelt album titled Agradecido, dedicated to life and his fans.
Released under Sony Music Latin, the set is home to 10 songs that include tribute medleys to various Latin American countries, a jazz cover of a Juan Gabriel classic, and brand new songs. On the album, “El Puma” is joined by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in three singles: the ode to his homeland “Venezuela,” his romantic “Medley Caribe” and his original ballad “El Hombre Que Mereces.”
“It was a long process,” he tells Billboard of the album, which was produced by Yasmil Marrufo. “I had this vision for many years of creating a ‘thank you’ album for different Latin American countries. I wanted to create something folkloric, acoustic, with sounds that I have made before.”
The set includes songs that pay homage to popular songs of the Caribbean Islands, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, to name a few. It kicks off with “Agradecido,” a feel-good tropical song composed by Rodriguez and co-written with Erika Ender that lines up everything “El Puma” is grateful for: God, his friends, his fan’s prayers, a second chance at life, and the opportunity to sing once again.
The release of the album comes almost two years after the Venezuelan singer was admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami on Dec. 17, 2017, for a double lung transplant, receiving the ultimate gift of life just days before Christmas.
“I am really super grateful and changed inside,” he reflects on his near-death experience. “I see life differently now, I feel people differently. I’m discovering the love that people have for me that I did not know before. That amazes me because now I’ve become super sensitive to things. I wasn’t before. Now, I’m touched by small things that meant nothing to me.”
“El Puma” kicked off his Agradecido Tour in May, already making pit stops in the U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, among other countries. He continues with new dates in November and December, where he will visit Europe and finish off in Venezuela.
In the context of his tour, “El Puma” highlights “Agarrense de las Manos” as a song that still gives him goosebumps every time he sings it live.
“It’s an anthem that’s impossible to replace with another song,” he says. “It’s something magical that invites union, joy, to feel that we are human. Religion, politics, and sports are antagonistic but music is accepted by all and there is a space under the sun for all genres.”
Culminating his new album, “El Puma” closes with “Despertar,” a romantic song with bachata influences that refers to his physical and emotional awakening: “Waking up between clouds of color, with the sky between you and me, without having another horizon to look at, than your face when you wake up.”
Stream Agradecido below.