Mexican rock band Maná may be on hiatus as they prepare their upcoming album, but guitarist Sergio Vallín has been one busy man.
For the past 18 months, Vallín has been hard at work in building a guitar school in his hometown of Aguascalientes, Mexico. The school will be housed in a historic building Vallín is remodeling entirely and which will be adorned with paintings and murals by some of Latin America's premiere acts. Most important is what will be offered inside: A first-rate musical education with guitar stars of every genre as visiting professors.
In tandem with his philanthropic work -- Vallín is shouldering all costs associated with the school -- Vallín is being featured in the latest installment of the Citizens of Humaniti film series Just Like You.
The video, directed by Pablo Croce, features Vallín talking about his music and art. Watch:
Launched in the fall of 2012, Citizen of Humanity's Just Like You program is a philanthropic video series profiling creative visionaries from around the world who inspire the brand. The series has featured Citizens of Humanity founder, Jerome Dahan, legendary ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and undefeated Jiu-Jitsu mixed martial artist Rickson Gracie among others. Vallín is the first Latin personality on the video.
Billboard spoke with Vallín on the phone from his home in Mexico.
Why a music school in Aguas Calientes?
These kids are hungry to play, so I want to give them a space with the best infrastructure and the best programs.
Is this a new school?
Yes. I spent 10 years with another program, but now I'm going independent and launching what will be a school for guitar. The notion is to teach all styles: flamenco, jazz, blues, classical. And in addition to the classes at the school I want to bring to my city great musicians; not just guitarists, but great instrumentalists.
It's an old building that you've been renovating for a while…
Yes, and I'm trying to put a lot of art in there. [Cuban painter] Waldo Saavedra made a painting of a Last Supper that's amazing. And the main room will have a gigantic mural covering the entire ceiling and a wall with all these famous musicians. It's going to be amazing, amazing, amazing.
You're writing songs for the new Maná album. Tell me a little about how that's going?
We're not going to take as much time between albums this time. We began writing as soon as we finished the tour. And the plan is to release a new album in 2014. At this point we're all writing on our own and then we get together and decide what goes and what stays. IN the past we've sorted thorugh 50, 60 songs.
What about this connection with Citizens for Humanity?
They look for characters that support what they stand for. And I thought the cause was very noble, and in turn, it's very gratifying that they support causes like mine; a school, a foundation.
Can music change lives?
Of course. Music is curative. Music heals, it elevates you, it helps you find your true self. Music is liberating. And in my case, music is my life.