With new tour and album, Latin music star Maluma is living 'a dream'

The Latin Grammy-winning urban-pop artist talks about his journey to stardom in a new YouTube Originals documentary set to premiere on June 5.
Image: FILE PHOTO: 2019 Billboard Music Awards- Show - Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Maluma and Madonna perform onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1 in Las Vegas.Mario Anzuoni / Reuters file

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By Nicole Acevedo

He's shared the stage with Madonna at the Billboard Music Awards, released his fourth studio album, written a new song for salsa icon Marc Anthony and attended the Met Gala for the first time: Global Latin music star Maluma is living his best life.

“I feel like I’m in a dream, like it’s not real. But it is real, it feels very real now,” he recently told NBC News.

Maluma's new album “11:11,” which dropped on May 17, is already the third biggest debut for a Latin album released in 2019 — trailing Romeo Santos’ “Utopía” and Luis Fonsi’s “Vida.”

The debut comes a day before he launched his world tour, which started in Mexico on Thursday.

The singer-songwriter, 25, is often credited with helping to fuel the growing consumer demand for Latin music globally.

Maluma is now one of the most popular artists on social media with nearly 6 million Twitter followers, about 23 million Facebook fans and over 42.5 million Instagram followers, making him the platform's leading Latin male.

In 2017, the Latin Grammy-winning artist received YouTube's Diamond Play Button award for exceeding 10 million subscribers on the platform. His official YouTube/VEVO channel has now surpassed 9 billion views and has more than 20.2 million subscribers.

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But Maluma, born Juan Luis Londoño Arias, did not always live “in a dream.”

He remembers coming of age in Colombia at a time when his family was living through the economic hardships and ripple effects that came with his parents’ divorce. The life event affected his decision to stop pursuing a career as a professional soccer player as a young teen, eventually shifting into music instead.

“I thank God for the hard times because they made me become the person that I am today,” said Maluma. "I have no regrets.”

Maluma talks about his journey to stardom in a new YouTube Originals documentary set to premiere on June 5 on the streaming platform.

Through intimate interviews with his family and friends and a behind-the-scenes look into his performances across the world, the 90-minute film, titled “Maluma: Lo Que Era, Lo Que Soy, Lo Que Seré,” documents the singer’s life before and after becoming a star.

“It was uncomfortable having cameras recording every single song, every single moment… but when I saw the final cut, I had no doubt that it was worth it,” Maluma said.

The documentary, directed by Jesse Terrero, is evidence that Maluma’s unconditional family love is one of the most important pillars holding up his career.

The documentary recounts how a birthday gift from his aunt and uncle — his aunt helped him record two songs in a studio — became the stepping stone for Maluma's entry into the music industry at a young age. It also documents how his rise to stardom strengthened his relationship with his father, who had been less of a presence after the divorce but was instrumental as Maluma was launching his career.

As Maluma explains in the film, the gratitude he feels for his family is captured in his artistic name, which he tattooed on his left leg when he was 14. "Maluma" is a combination of the first syllables in Marlli, Luis and Manuela, the names of his mother, father and older sister, respectively.

“They are rock stars,” said Maluma of his family. “We’ve been growing together as my career progresses. ... My career has become stronger. So, has my family.”

So far, there’s no indication that Maluma will be slowing down any time soon.

His tour includes performances in Europe, the United States and Latin America and will culminate in Puerto Rico in November.

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