By LUIS BENAVIDES
The Associated Press
Friday, October 12, 2007; 5:49 PM
CAROLINA DEL PRINCIPE, Colombia -- Juanes returned to the small town of his childhood Friday for the unveiling of a bronze statue in his likeness.
The 4,800 residents of Carolina del Principe greeted the 35-year-old Latin rock singer in the town's central park, where the statue, which stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall, was erected. The statue shows Juanes with the long hair of his youth and a guitar slung over his back.
Guarded by heavily armed soldiers, Juanes pointed out places of his childhood and where he played with his heavy metal group before he left the band to pursue a solo career. Later he gave a free concert to the adoring crowd.
Juanes, whose real name is Juan Esteban Aristizabal Vasquez, was born in Colombia's second-largest city of Medellin, but spent much of his childhood in the small agricultural town where his family has lived for generations.
Along with Shakira, Juanes is one of Colombia's most famous musical exports, rising to fame with the hits "A Dios Le Pido" and "La Camisa Negra."
He won 12 Latin Grammy Awards between 2001 and 2005.