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What You Didn’t Know about Carlos Ponce

carlos ponce

Host, singer, actor Carlos Ponce is a man of many hats. Puerto Rican born and of Cuban descent, Carlos Ponce Freyre has been entertaining us since 1989. The character actor can embody any role.

Whether it’s playing a lovelorn romantic in “Meet Me in Miami,” or a yoga instructor that is too comfortable with everyone like in “C0uples Retreat,” Ponce knows how to completely get in tune with whatever character he is playing.

Although he is mostly known for his acting, Ponce started off as a host for the Univision show, “Hablando”. Shortly after that shows run ended he became a soap star in two of Televisa’s telenovelas on the network, “Guadalupe” and “Sentimientos Ajenos.”

For the next few years Ponce would go back and forth between hosting (Control, Entertainment Tonight, Idol Kids Puerto Rico and Miss Universe)and starring in soap operas (Dame Chocolate, Perro Amor).

After becoming wildly popular on soap operas and becoming a renowned host, Ponce signed a record deal in 1998 and released the album “Carlos Ponce.” Carlos Ponce went on to be a double-platinum selling album and has three hit songs, “Decir Adios,” “Escuchame” and “Rezo.” Between 1999 and 2012 he would go on to release another seven albums.

As he was beginning to make waves on the Latin charts on the radio, Ponce also started to make a name for himself with American audiences on hit shows like “7th Heaven” and “Beverly Hills 90210.”  Those appearances were followed by a contract with Disney to sing “Belle Notte” on the soundtrack for the sequel to “Lady and the Tramp” called “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure.”

It wasn’t too long before Ponce found himself on the silverscreen with such films as “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” “Just My Luck” and this year’s hit comedy, “Spy.” While his star continues to rise you can next catch him in the film “Single in South Beach.”

Fun Facts

  • After his family moved to Miami, he was honored as the best student actor in the southern region of the U.S.
  • He dropped out of the New World School of the Arts Conservatory  to host “Hablando”
  • He sang the theme song for “Sentimientos Ajenos”
  • His first album hit number one in all of the Americas
  • The song “Amelia” from his second album, “Todo lo que Soy” became the theme for the The World Athletic Games held in Seville, Spain

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Remembering When Marc Anthony Said ‘F*** Donald Trump at MSG Concert


Like most Latinos, Marc Anthony has had enough of Donald Trump ignorant and racist comments

Between his insulting Mexicans, bashing Latinos, degrading women and other cultures, we have all had enough of this ignorant arrogant man

Marc lashed out on Donald via Twitter by saying: “What does it matter how much money you have when everything that comes out of your mouth isn’t worth 2 cents, Donald Trump.


During his sold out concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden, Marc said: “I’m proud to be Latino in the United States of America,” …looking  at this the audience. “I see Peruvian flags, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico,  I see Panama, I see the Dominican Republic … We’re all proud of our culture.”


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Marc said that even though Latinos are not all alike — they all speak a little differently, have their own food and customs — they should stand united. “But here, no matter where you come from, we’re Latinos!” he said. “And we have to take care of each other. No matter where we come from.”

After taking a brief pause to hear the cheers from the crowd, Marc Anthony cursed Trump, bringing the audience to their feet for a standing ovation.

Romeo & his Manager Johnny Marines partner with JAY-Z in Roc Nation Latino

One year ago, music impresario Johnny Marines & his super star artist Romeo Santos became the President and CEO of Jay Z’s Roc Nation Latino respectively.


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The king of bachata Romeo Santos’ is now a CEO, in addition to being an artist. As the CEO the newly created Roc Nation Latino within Jay Z’s Roc Nation. It will be a full service division within Roc Nation that will be dedicated to Latin talent. Santos will also be managed by Roc Nation in conjunction with his longtime manager Johnny marines, a former NYPD sergeant and long time manager of Romeo and Aventura.

A few months go Roc Nation Latino singed its first artist Mozart La Para

The company inked a deal with former Aventura lead singer Romeo Santos to become the CEO of the newly launched Roc Nation Latino.

The deal also makes Romeo Santos, the top selling artist in Latin music of the last five years, a management client of Roc Nation. The singer will now be co-managed by Roc Nation and the aforementioned Johnny Marines, a 2016 Latino Trendsetter Award recipient.  Santos’ current recording contract with Sony is unaffected by his new venture. Bringing Romeo Santos into the fold opens up Roc Nation to a whole new market. The company made their first move into the Latin music earlier this year by signing reggaeton artist Yandel. The launch of Roc Nation Latino represents Roc Nation’s further moves to expand into the global market. Jay Z released a statement today that expressed his excitement for what Santos will do for Roc Nation.



 “I’m not taking for granted being managed by Roc Nation,” Santos says in a conversation with Billboard. “They have a lot of relations. They have a certain reach that I clearly could benefit from. And dealing with Jay Z, who is an artist himself, that’s great. I’ve always idolized Jay. We both come from the ‘hood, and he gets it. So that was definitely also fundamental. But I’m really excited about giving back. This is my way of giving back.” –  Said Romeo

 “Romeo has had tremendous success as a composer and producer and can spot true talent,” Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter said in a statement. “This is a tremendous step for Roc Nation. We recognize there is a huge Latin market that is part of global culture. We’re proud and ready to enter into true partnership with an individual that intimately lives and knows that culture.” – Said JAY-Z

Romeo Santos and Johnny Marines believe this deal is not only beneficial to them, but also something that will help Latin music industry as whole. Marines said that Roc Nation is serious about facilitating the growth of Latin music.

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What You Didn’t Know about Calle 13

Calle 13 is a Puerto Rican alternative urban band consisting of stepbrothers René Pérez Joglar (lead singer, songwriter), Eduardo José Cabra Martínez (multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, beat producer) and their half-sister Ileana Cabra Joglar (backing vocals). Their stage names are Residente, Visitante and PG-13.

Calle 13 likes to blend different musical styles like reggaeton, rap and rock. While other Latino groups tend to stick to the format, Calle 13 likes to buck tradition. The group is known for using a wide range of instruments from all over the world and using provocative, tongue-in-cheek as well as socially conscientious lyrics.

Everything sounds the same on the radio…but what we are making is sincere, and I think that’s worth something.”

The band also takes on social issues facing Puerto Ricans, Latinos and people all over the world. As the frontman of the band, Residente has no problem vocalizing the group’s stance on certain topics concerning music, politics and discrimination.

The siblings are big supporters for and independent Puerto Rico, Pérez is an ally of the LGBTQ community, and the brothers go out of their way not to make music about violence, misogyny and materialism.

I want Puerto Rico to be free and independent and have just one flag. The people here don’t work the way they should, and it’s because of the comfort they are feeling from you guys, from the States. We have a very low self-esteem. We feel that we can’t do it on our own. We as a country need to feel proud about our nation.”

I want  the world to know the name Oscar López Rivera.

Fun Facts

  • The group got their name from the street they use to live on when their parents were married
  • Residente is afraid of airplanes
  • If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be with his grandmother, his great-grandmother, Roberto Clemente, and John Lennon. –Rene aka Residente
  • Visitante use to lead a ska-reggae band called Bayanga
  • Their tour band consists of 20-25 members
  • Residente would one day love to be a film director or writer
  • During sex he listens to… “No music for sex,” he said, laughing. “Natura sounds.” -Rene aka Residente

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Meet Tito Puente Jr.: Heavy Metal Lover. Timbales Master. Grateful Son.



By, Daisy Cabrera

¡Ran kan kan kan, kan kan! ¡Pero suenan, suenan los timbales!

Whether getting down in a nightclub, enjoying a cookout with the familia, or jamming to your playlist – the secret to getting the party started is a lively Tito Puente mambo.

We can’t celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month without celebrating the legendary virtuoso and Latin music genius – Tito Puente. The prolific musician, bandleader, composer and arranger recorded over 100 albums, winning many awards during an illustrious 50-year career. He mastered mambo, son, salsa, bossa nova, merengue and cha-cha-chá styles. He played the timbales, piano, percussion, drum set, saxophone and vibraphone. He performed 200-300 dates yearly, and was known as the ‘King of Latin Music.’ Tito was to timbales what Miles was to the trumpet, Hendrix to the electric guitar, Coltrane to the sax. ICONIC.


His award-winning musician son, Tito Puente Jr., carries the maestro’s name, infectious smile, larger than life spirit, bravura showmanship and passion for sharing Latin jazz with the world. He keeps his father’s legacy alive, while leaving his own mark on the world of music.

“Growing up, I watched this incredible man playing the timbales for thousands of fans, hearing the boisterous sounds of mambo coming from the stage,” Tito Jr. shared. “It was an incredible experience to witness his magic as a kid.”

But, heavy metal was Tito Jr.’s first true love. And, his iPod is proof of this.  “In the 80s, I was listening to Bon Jovi, Metallica and the likes. That was my thing – playing the drums and rocking out.” In his late teens, he hit the road with his father. Working as a drum tech, he learned how to travel with a band, conduct an orchestra, and present an extraordinary performance. He was militant in perfecting his craft, he explains. “My dad was a powerful entity, performing the high standard of bandleaders from the 1950s. If you couldn’t play in the Tito Puente Orchestra, then you weren’t a good musician.

While on the road, Tito Jr. also gained a deep respect for the Latin rhythmic pattern – clave. This peaked his interest in mambo, much to his dad’s support. “He encouraged me to formally study music, get an education and pay my dues like he did.” The eager, young musician attended Five Towns College, learning the technicalities of reading and writing music. “Pops wanted to make sure his music was presented in the correct way, and I try to do the same with my music today,” he recalls. “I also learned how to be a good father from him. When my children are older, I’d love to bring them on the road just like my dad did with me.


On a personal level, Tito Jr. shares fond memories of the man behind the music. “My dad loved making a mess, especially when he was cooking. From pasta sauce to arroz con habichuela – a lot of food all over the place, even on him!” He stops to chuckle, then continues the endearing story. “If you look at some of the old black and white photos of him, you might see a stain on his shirt or tie. He had to tuck a napkin – or several napkins – in his collar, and my mom was always cleaning up after him.

Not only was his father music royalty, but so was his godmother – Celia Cruz. “My dad and Celia were very close, and she became my madrina,” he continues. “She used to call me ‘Titico’ and I remember her fondly.” One of his most unforgettable concerts was playing alongside his dad, Celia and La India at Toronto’s Skydome.

His determination to continue his dad’s momentum is a beautiful thing. “Today’s youth didn’t experience Tito Puente, and wouldn’t know his energy. I teach them about him, and the essence of Latin music so they know how it started and where that big band mambo sound comes from,” he said, recalling his father’s humble beginnings in the barrio to becoming a worldwide superstar. When introducing youth to his dad’s music, he starts off with the 1957 recorded ‘Dance Mania’ Vol. 1 and 2, with the much-celebrated ‘Ran Kan Kan’ song. “It’s an essential album that was recorded live, in one take, and is really something special.


My father had stardom, power and spirit – the staple of Latin music and American music for that matter.” Having access to Tito Puente’s enviable vault of over 10,000 arrangements is not lost on his son. When selecting music from the collection, his mom joins in on the process. “She gives me a timeline of when a particular tune came out, and tells me the back story of the song,” he goes on, “For example, she’ll tell me Pops was in a freezing basement in the barrio when he wrote that song in the winter of 1968.

Tito Jr. continues to record and perform his father’s repertoire, adding his own flavor to the music. With his latest album, Got Mambo? (, the classics meet new music. “For this special album, I went through hundreds of my dad’s arrangements to handpick songs, included my own music and featured several great artists,” he said.


What You Didn’t Know about Carlos Santana


Carlos Santana is a music legend. Born in Mexico, he became involved in music at a very young age. Growing up the son of a mariachi musician he learned to play the violin and the guitar. As a youth he was inspired by rock pioneer Ritchie Valens, who made rock’n’roll music with Spanish songs.

By the time Santana was in his teens his family moved to San Francisco. After deciding that school was not for him, he made a living during the hippie movement of the 1960s by busking and washing dishes. It was during this time he was exposed to other styles of music like folk and jazz. After seeing his musical idol B.B. King play live, Santana decided to no longer work for little to nothing and dedicate himself into becoming a musician.

His chance in the spotlight was serendipitous. When blues singer and harmonica player Paul Butterfield was too drunk to perform at the famous rock venue Fillmore West, which he often went to watch shows, Santana’s manager was able to convince concert promoter Bill Graham that the guitarist should play. Suddenly, Santana was part of an impromptu group making music and no longer just a witness to great music.

Shortly afterwards, Santana created a group with fellow street musicians,  David Brown, Marcus Malone and Gregg Rolie. Starting off as the “Santana Blues Band” and then just “Santana,” the group was able to get a record deal riding off of the guitarist’s momentous debut at Fillmore West, a memorable performance at Woodstock and the new sound they were able to bring together from their different backgrounds.

In 1969 the world got to listen to the “Santana” album. It was a blend of African rhythms, blues, jazz, salsa and Latin-infused rock. The group produced the hit song “Evil Ways” and went on to have a triple-platinum album.

As the band released more albums throughout the drug-addled 1970s, the lineup changed and Santana was eventually the only original member of the group, as well as its star. However, he quickly became disenchanted with the rock’n’roll lifestyle and decided to seek spirituality within himself and his music.

While he remained with his band in the 80s, he also made his own music. In 1986 he released his first solo album, “Blues for Salvador,” which was a critical success and garnered him his first Grammy award for Best Instrumental Performance.

Santana would later tour extensively, and in the 1990s he had his own label, “Guts and Grace.” One of the first albums on the label was with his younger brother Jorge and nephew Carlos Hernandez, titled “Brothers.” This helped him achieve his second Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Performance.

While Santana continued to achieve critical praise mostly on his own, he never forgot how he started, with his band. He went back to basics by re-signing the band with its first producer, Clive Davis and in no time his 35th album, “Supernatural” put him and his group at the top of the music charts once again. The album sold over 10 million copies worldwide, earned the group nine Grammy nominations and they won eight, the ninth award went to the songwriter of the band’s hit song “Smooth.”

In the 2000s, Santana was a Lifetime Achievement recipient from the Billboard Latin Music Awards. In 2013 he was a Kennedy Center Honoree and in 2014 he released his first ever Spanish-language album, “Corazon.” On his 68th birthday, July 20th, 2015, Santana was announced to have won an American Book Award for his 2014 memoir, “Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light.”

Today he is performing in the United Kingdom and he will be bringing his tour back to the United States on August 14.

Fun Facts

  • The band “Santana” is the first group to name itself after a guitar player
  • Santana proposed to his second wife Cindy Blackman during a concert in Illinois
  • For the “Supernatural” album, Santana tied Michael Jackson for the most amount of wins in a single night
  • You can play as Santana on the video game “Guitar Hero 5
  • His grandfather and great-grandfather were musicians too

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Daddy Yankee & Luis Fonsi Hit Song “Despacito” Close to 1 BILLION You Tube Views

Latin urban superstar Daddy Yankee will hit the Billboard Latin Music Awards stage for the worldwide television premiere of the smash hit “Despacito,” (with Luis Fonsi) which continues to rule YouTube’s Global Music Top 100 chart, and is close to reaching one billion views on YouTube/Vevo.


The song has been at the top of Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart for 11 straight weeks. The Puerto Rican singer/songwriter will also perform one of his most recent hits, and will debut a new song, in addition to offering viewers a unique and exciting surprise act.


Daddy Yankee with Luis Fonsi on set for Despacito video production

The Billboard Latin Music Awards will broadcast live on Telemundo Thursday, April 27 at 8pm/7c televised live at Universo. Check your cable for local channel.

Daddy Yankee  catapulted to international fame with the launch of his album, “Barrio Fino,” in 2004, which became the first reggaeton album to reach the number one spot of the Top Latin Albums chart.

He holds more No. 1s than any other act on the Latin Rhythm Airplay chart with 15. He has six No. 1s on the Top Latin Albums chart, and more Hot Latin Songs hits than any other urban singer with 51.

This year he has already made the list seven times with “Shaky Shaky” “Sola”, “Otra Cosa”, “No Quiere Enamorarse”, “Hula Hoop”, “La Rompe Corazones” and “Despacito”.
The Billboard Latin Music Awards are the only ones that honor the most popular albums, songs, and performers in Latin music, as determined by the actual sales, radio airplay, streaming and social data that informs Billboard’s weekly charts.

The awards are the culmination of the Billboard Latin Music Conference, which will take place on April 24-27th at The Ritz-Carlton in South Beach, Florida. Now in its 28th year, the conference is the biggest and longest-running event dedicated to Latin music in the world.

The conference is the “must-attend” event for the top power players in the industry including A-list talent and top agents, managers, promoters, marketing, advertising, and radio executives, as well as for those taking their first steps in the business.

What You Didn’t Know about Celia Cruz

celia 3

Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, or for short Celia Cruz, was one of the most accomplished singers of the 20th century. Hailing from humble beginnings in the poor neighborhood of Santos Suarez in Havana, Cuba, her mother knew immediately that she was destined to be a singer.

It was on the radio in diverse Santos Suarez where Cruz would grow up listening to all types of music. Rumba, mambo, guaracha, bolero, cha-cha, salsa and son cubano was apart of her musical education. As a youth Cruz and her sister were taken to cabarets to sing by their aunt. At radio stations, Cruz sang tango “Nostalgias” (unrequited love songs) to win cakes during the “Hora del Te” broadcast, often coming first place.

Her piercing and powerful voice carried a great warmth. At a music conservatory, her own professor took notice of it and told her to drop out and let her talent shine as she was already gaining momentum on the radio for her recorded and live performances in the late 1940s.

Her vocal style was distinctive because it incorporated pregon, the wails of street vendors (usually fishmongers and peanut vendors). As an Afro-Cubana, her early music was influenced by santeria (Cuban blend of Christian and traditional African religious music) songs which used the religious African dialect of Lucumi.

After leaving school she was the singer for a dance group, Las Mulatas del Fuego. In 1950 she was the lead singer of Sonora Matancera, one of the most prominent Cuban orchestras. But that didn’t come easy, because when she joined Sonora, she was replacing a previous singer and she had to gain the public’s support. By her bandmates sticking up for her, Cruz eventually became well love not only in Cuba, but throughout all of Latin America. Slowly, she was becoming the leading female voice of modern salsa at a time when the music was dominated by men.

Soon, Cruz’s life will change forever, for better and for worst in the early 1960s. While travelling with Matancera in Mexico, Fidel Castro came to power turning Cuba into a communist country. With all but one bandmember refusing to go back under such a regime, Castro issued them a lifetime ban. Over a year later she would take up residency in New Jersey and marry Matancera trumpet player Pedro Knight.

In the mid 1960s, she followed the New York music scene which had musicians from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Outside of salsa, she also sang guaracha and all the other types of Latin music she grew up listening to. This was a time of experimentation when many artists would blend and mix many different musical styles and perform with musicians from different styles of music.

By the 1970s, Cruz made music with Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, and the Fania AllStars. She had a catch phrase, Azucar, which she used to energize her audience and band. Also, she became a fashion icon because of her bold, daring, and wild costumes and wigs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she performed and was featured on songs with Wyclef Jean, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, and David Byrne. By the early 2000s, The Celia Cruz Foundation was created in order to help impoverished students that wanted to study music.

Celia Cruz made music until her death from brain cancer in 2003. Within the 55 years that she made music, she released 75 albums, 23 of which went gold. Throughout her career, Cruz was honored as the Queen of Salsa, La Guarachera de Cuba, and the Queen of Latin Music.

Fun Facts

  • She was awarded an American National Medal of the Arts
  • For the 2015-2016 TV lineup, Telemundo will have a musical drama about The Queen of Salsa
  • While with La Sonora Matancera, Cruz and the group appeared in five motion pictures
  • She sang the spot for WQBA in Miami
  • There is an exhibit in Washinton D.C. dedicated to her


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The Threads That Bind Bachata to the Blues

Excerpt by Juan Guillen


Originally published in 2014

The rising popularity of (modern) Bachata in the US, and the globe for that matter, is understandable when you look at the history and similarities of Bachata and the Blues. They were both born out of pain…from the disenfranchised (slaves in the US and the poor and uneducated in the Dominican Republic). The lyrics are very similar and at times identical…both sang of a depressed mood. US Blues and Dominican Bachata were both rejected by society in their respective countries…yet Blues music is the grandfather and grandmother of what makes up most American music today.

LatinTRENDS brings you an in-depth look at the history and transition of both of these two genres and how this is influencing the growth and popularity of Bachata music in America and the world. Get the Blues – the Blues with a Latin twist – with this article.


By Ray Monell

Bachata and Blues, musical genres wrought by two prongs of the African diaspora in the Western Hemisphere, have outlived the powerful forces fixated on their suppression as soon as they came into existence. Through them was expressed the proverbial plight of the poor, those who would endure ineffable racial and economic discrimination long before reaching comparatively finer pastures.


Origins of Blues and Bachata

The term Blues and Bachata’s original name, amargue (which means “bitter” in Spanish), denote melancholy. Tales of unrequited love, randy encounters and the inhumane conditions beneath which the underprivileged lived and worked were common in both genres. Not coincidentally, Bachata is often referred to as Dominican Blues.


It is widely believed that Bachata first surfaced in the brothels and shantytowns of the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, in the early 20th century. It was virtually banned by dictator Rafael Trujillo, who instead made Merengue the country’s official musical form during the 1930s, according to the National Geographic Society. Trujillo’s three-decade reign (1930-61) was marked by torture, arbitrary imprisonments, the oppression and mass murder of Afro-Dominicans and Haitian immigrants, respectively, and economic policies that favored wealthy landowners over their workers.

Video 1,2 & 3 below shows 3 different kinds of Bachata rhythms

1.Video below shows a more traditional & faster paced Bachata, heavy on the acoustic guitars and drums


2. In the club- classic Bachata


3.Modern Day Bachata

The atmosphere was no kinder to African-Americans in the Deep South, where the institution of slavery was swiftly replaced by a sharecropping/tenant farming-dominated economy, Jim Crow laws (segregation) and the relentless terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan. During the first 3 1/2 decades of post-bellum America (1865-1900), wrote author Debra Devi for the Huffington Post this past January, “Plantation work songs were primarily sung a cappella, but after Emancipation traveling country-blues singers used the guitar and harmonica to earn money playing picnics and dances. Over time, the blues became music that expressed the singer’s struggles and passions, both carnal and spiritual.”

Harsh realities of the time required early Bachateros in the Dominican Republic, like African-American Blues musicians (known long ago as songsters) in the southern United States, to be as subversive as they were gifted in music.


Culturally, the role of Bachata musicians in society was similar to the role Blues musicians played,” iASO Records President Benjamin de Menil, 38, told LatinTRENDS in late March. “Bachateros viewed themselves, similar to how Bluesmen viewed themselves, a little bit like outcasts. And sometimes defiant outcasts, like, ‘I’m a crazy drunk and I’m proud of it.‘ There was a flamboyant style to Bachateros and Blues players. There was also the association of Blues with brothels and prostitution back in the old days, and Bachata also had that association.

Both styles were the popular music of the underclass. These were people that lived in rural areas and worked in farms, people who were manual laborers, and this was their outlet.”


History of Musica Bachata

What came to be known as Bachata—a term that previously denoted Bolero parties in poor, rural or urban communities—blossomed artistically following Trujillo’s assassination in 1961. Bachata’s commercial viability, on the other hand, was stunted by how poorly it was still perceived by the establishment in the 1970s, a decade in which it received little exposure on Dominican radio and television.

By the early 1980s, however, popular demand (specifically among U.S.-based Dominicans) ended Bachata’s censorship, paving the way for the genre’s growth and modernization.


Many of the Dominicans that emigrated to the U.S. came from a working class background, and they brought with them their taste in music,” de Menil, who has worked with Leonardo Paniagua and Joan Soriano, said. “They came to the U.S., they were able to rise up and get better lives for themselves, and have supported Bachata. That community helped bring the Bachateros that started to perform in the U.S. They also helped to spread Bachata to other [Latinos], and then those people brought it back to the country of their origin. That recognition has helped Bachata’s case in the Dominican Republic. People actually feel more pride for the music when they see foreigners respecting it.”

You can separate the Bachata that we know about,” he continued, “which is the Bachata that’s been recorded, into two categories: The old fashion style, what was going on from the 1960s through the end of the 1980s, and the modern style, when the electric guitar replaced the acoustic guitar. The 1980s was the transitional period. Anthony Santos and Luis Vargas was the beginning of the 1990s, and they were the first generation of truly modern Bachateros. Blas Duran was a little bit before them, and many people say he was the first one to develop the modern Bachata sound.”


Originating in the Mississippi River Delta area prior to spreading to other parts of the Deep South, Blues was a secular derivation of African-American religious music (i.e., the Negro spirituals). Back then, it was considered sinful to play, often referred to as “the devil’s music.” But much like the nationwide condemnation of gangster rap by politicians and concerned parents in the early 1990s, the indignation targeting Blues music made it a forbidden fruit too tempting to resist.

Thus, the Blues sound transcended racial lines, but initially under race-specific designations introduced by the recording industry in the 1920s: race music (performed by/marketed toward blacks) and hillbilly music (performed by/marketed toward whites).

An estimated 1.6 million southern blacks relocated to northern states between the 1910s and ’30s, greatly expanding the sphere of Afro-American music’s influence. This particular wave of the Great Migration—i.e., the migration of 6 million African-Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West from 1910-70—coincided with the Harlem Renaissance, a time that saw the rise of composer Duke Elington and poet Langston Hughes, among other prominent artists. Blues would serve as a template for rock and roll and experience a resurgence in the late 1960s and early ’70s courtesy of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, both of whom are members of the (dead at) 27 Club.


Any similarity Blues, or any of its myriad relatives, has with Bachata, de Menil believes, can actually be traced as far back as the ’60s, long predating Aventura’s imbuing of the genre with hip hop and contemporary Rhythm and Blues (R&B) elements.

I think that infusion has been going on for a very long time,” de Menil said. “When you hear the first [Bachata music] that was being recorded in the 1960s, some of them had this sort of doo-wop sound to them. It’s hard to go back now and speak to those artists and ask them what their influences were, but it sounds like they were getting some influence from the music that coming out of the U.S.”

Indeed, by sheer happenstance or design, the chorus of Bachata pioneer José Manuel Calderón’s “Llanto a La Luna” does have, in part, a doo-wop feel to it. That said, the line between both genres was permanently blurred by Aventura’s groundbreaking work, and it is due to that musical innovation—which began in the latter half of the ’90s—that we especially cannot ignore what the “B” in R&B actually stands for.

With Aventura, we’re talking about a whole other thing, where [bachata] is really fused with R&B,” de Menil said. “It doesn’t have that traditional sound anymore. It’s a whole different animal.”


The Rise of New Bachata Songs

As Dominican-Americans from The Bronx, Lenny Santos and Anthony “Romeo” Santos (who is also half Puerto Rican) were raised on a steady musical diet of Rap, R&B, Merengue, Bachata and Salsa. Heck, Lenny, looking back on his childhood when I interviewed him and his brother, Max, in the summer of 2009, even mentioned regularly listening to grunge rock’s Pearl Jam on a walkman while rollerblading around his neighborhood.

Via Lenny’s guitar-playing, production and arrangements and Anthony’s songwriting and singing, Bachata has been unmistakably impacted by Blues-derived American popular music. Aventura’s last album—appropriately titled “The Last” (2009)—unequivocally validates said notion.

For instance, one of the album’s singles, “Dile al Amor,” ends with the repeated, reverberated and mellifluously delivered double-negative line, “I don’t need no love … in my life.” That portion of the song, I’m compelled to say, is eerily similar in sound and mood to The Flamingos’ version of “I Only Have Eyes for You” (1959).

Bachata Aventura Breaks Up

The group disbanded in 2011. Lenny and Max (bass) went on to form Bachata supergroup VENA with fellow Bronx native Steve Styles (formerly of Xtreme), leading to their 2012 hit, “Ya No”; singer and supporting vocalist Henry Santos embarked on a solo career and exhibited his famous dancing skills last year on “Mira Quien Baila,” Univision’s answer to ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”; and Anthony, in 2011, featured R&B singer Usher on “Promise,” a single from his solo debut album, “Formula, Vol. 1.” “Promise” has peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Songs, Latin Pop Songs and Tropical Songs charts, and its video has (as of April 10, 2013) nearly 40.2 million views on YouTube.

Aventura’s distinct sound was met with disdain by Bachata’s traditionalists early on, but the group ultimately authored an important chapter of the Dominican narrative in the U.S. Their oeuvre, influenced and enriched as it was by hip hop and R&B music, linked Bachata to Blues through its two aforementioned descendants. Once separated by the vastness of the Atlantic ocean, bachata and Blues—each of which was born out of struggle—now proudly occupy common land.

What You Didn’t Know about Romeo Santos

romeo santos

Anthony “Romeo” Santos, or just Romeo Santos to his fans, may be considered the modern “King of Bachata”, but it wasn’t that long ago that the half Dominican, half Puerto Rican heartthrob was simply a shy kid writing poetry at home to try to woo a girl that use to be mean to him.

“She wasn’t the nicest girl. I expressed myself by writing poems and lyrics (to her but) I kind of thank her now for being so mean to me,” said Santos.

Growing up in the Bronx, Santos was exposed to hip-hop, R&B and Latin music. The introverted singer continued to find his voice after joining his church choir and in 1994 he decided to form a group with his cousin Henry Santos and friends Lenny and Max Santos, in which he was the lead singer.

The group would later go on to be called Aventura and be the first bachata group to hail from the U. S. instead of the Dominican Republic. Despite the group’s rise from the streets of the Bronx, to its first cover on a magazine, Dominican Times/Latin Trends, and to stadiums around the world, Aventura received a lot of initial backlash from older traditional bachata listeners and musicians. By fusing bachata with R&B, hip-hop, rock and reggaeton, bachata purist didn’t acknowledge the group as making bachata music.

In spite of the criticism, Aventura went on to achieve international success with songs like “Obsesion”, which is covered in multiple languages throughout Europe, and the album which it’s included, “We Broke the Rules”, topped the pop charts in the United States and broke sales records for a bachata album.

In 2012, the once timid Santos decided to go out on his own with his debut solo album, “Formula Vol. 1.” Vol. 1 was the best selling Latin album of that year, was critically acclaimed and went on to be certified Triple Platinum. The bachata tracks on the album were written, produced and arranged by Santos. The superstar producer, Rico Love,  worked on the English songs. Vol. 1 has five consecutive chart topping songs on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs, “You,” “Promise,” “La Diabla,” “Mi Santa,” and “Rival.”

“I want to touch people’s lives with my music and my lyrics,” said Santos.

Santos’ Hollywood debut was in the blockbuster hit movie, “Furious 7” and his second film will be in 2016’s film adaptation of the video game “Angry Birds.” Santos’ second solo album, “Formula Vol. 2”, which he is on tour for now, became the best selling Latin album of 2014. It features songs like, “No Tiene La Culpa,” about a gay youth’s struggle with his sexuality.

“The message is that we shouldn’t worry about anyone’s sexual preferences, nor color, race, language, or anything, because we are all equal… this is not a gay record, this is a reality song,” said Santos, a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community.

Fun Facts

  • He is the first Latino to headline a concert at Yankee Stadium
  • He helped usher Drake and Nicki Minaj into bachata music
  • His music is in heavy rotation on jukeboxes, second only to the Rolling Stones
  • He sang in English and Spanish when he was in his church choir
  • He has won all 28 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ awards

By Naeisha Rose

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Shakira & Carlos Vives Sued for Plagiarism

A Cuban singer and music producer has filed a plagiarism lawsuit against Latin pop stars Shakira and Carlos Vives for allegedly copying his work in the Colombian duo’s award-winning music hit “La Bicicleta .”


Livan Rafael Castellanos, also known as Livam,  wants a court to decide whether parts of his  song “Yo te quiero tanto “ were plagiarized.

“I have nothing against Shakira, Vives or anybody else,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s the law that needs to decide whether changing a song’s key is enough to make it different.”

Livam, who works in Spain as a composer and producer, said his 4 year old daughter identified her dad’s melody in “La Bicicleta” when the she heard coming from a radio during a holiday last summer.

The musician consulted experts and contacted the labels representing Carlos Vives, Shakira and Andres Eduardo Castro, a producer who appears registered as the author of “La Bicicleta.” No agreements were reached, according to Livam.

A judge in the Spanish capital accepted the lawsuit filed by MDRB Music Publishing, the label holding the copyright for Livam’s work, and has given 20 days for the plaintiffs to present evidence that the song is originally theirs.

SGAE, the main society managing the rights of authors and publishers in Spain, said it had suspended the rights of the song following the association’s usual procedure when one of its members lodges a complaint.

A legal representative for Sony Music Publishing in Spain, which represents Shakira and Castro, said Friday the company couldn’t comment because it had not received notice of the lawsuit.

Representative for Carlos Vives and Shakira did not comment on the matter other than to say the claims are false: “Neither Carlos Vives nor Shakira have received any copy of a lawsuit pertaining to ‘La Bicicleta,’ and as such abstain from commenting on this matter. ‘La Bicicleta’ is a completely original work and they adamantly reject any allegation to the contrary.”

This isn’t the first time Shakira has been accused of copyright infringement. In 2012, songwriter Ramon Arias Vasquez sued Sony/ATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos, claiming that Shakira’s popular song “Loca,” featured on the 2010 album Sale el Sol, ripped off his 90s tune “Loca con su Tiguere.” However, the suit was eventually thrown out years later after it was discovered that the cassette tape on which Vasquez had allegedly recorded the original song was a fake.

Copyright law in Spain, governed by the Spanish Copyright Act (SCA) of 1996, is arguably similar to intellectual property law in the United States. In order for Shakira and Vives to be held liable for copyright infringement, Livam is going to have to prove that the duo’s song is strikingly similar to his own. Based on that requirement alone, it appears at first glance that the plaintiff doesn’t have much of a case.

#DraLo Goes to Prom

Drake and Jennifer Lopez are packing on the PDA all over social media for everyone to see. If anyone had doubts that these two are together, the winter wonderland prom-themed party they attended in Los Angeles definitely distilled that rumor.

While at the party these two were grinding up a storm all over the dance floor. Although they made time for fun, everyone at the event got a chance to hear some of the music the duo was collaborating on.

❤💕 @jlo #JenniferLopez #Drake #JLovers #DraLo

A video posted by Jennifer Lopez Follows ❀ (@jenniferlopezlove) on

The night included a few slow paced songs that they danced to after being crowned prom queen and king.

That dance ❤💕 @jlo #JenniferLopez #Drake #DraLo #JLovers

A video posted by Jennifer Lopez Follows ❀ (@jenniferlopezlove) on

Are you looking forward to hearing new music from Hollywood’s new it couple? More importantly, could this be the one for J. Lo. or is Drake just another fling?

Sound off below in the comment section.