Aventura is the first bachata group to originate from the United States instead of the Dominican Republic. It consists of Anthony “Romeo” Santos, Henry Santos, Max Santos and Lenny Santos, also known as the modern “Bachata Kings.” Romeo and Henry are cousins who are coincidently friends of the brothers Max and Lenny despite having the same last name and all four of them growing up in the Bronx.
The band got its start when Romeo, a shy prepubescent choirboy, wrote poetry for a girl he had a crush on, and when he started listening to bachata music with his father at home. After finding his voice at the church and being moved by bachateros like Antony Santos, or El Mayimbe, with whom he has a similar name, he decided to pursue music seriously.
The original group’s moniker, “Los Teenagers de la Bachata,” consisted of Romeo as the composer/singer, Lenny as the guitarist/arranger and four other people in the pure bachata band. After playing in local festivals throughout New York during the boy band craze of the 1990s, the Dominican producer, Julio Cesar Garcia, revamped the group.
He added Max as bass/guitarist, Lenny as an additional composer/singer, focused the group to the four Santos boys, and encouraged them to break away from the old traditional bachata style, and embrace their eclectic love of different musical genres alongside bachata.
“Usual Bachata music was a guy in a guitar crying over a woman, we wanted to do it different… If a girl doesn’t like me – then forget her, I’ll go to the next girl, and this is the type of music we wanted to make,” said Romeo.
At first the group only found esteem in its native New York after the release of its first album, “Generation Next.” It wasn’t until their chart topping sophomore album, “We Broke the Rules” came out strong with the record breaking single “Obsesion” that it became world famous. Obsesion first garnered success by becoming a number one song overseas in several countries in Europe before being a hit in the United States. The spanglish version of the song further escalated the group, and Romeo became the first Hispanic to win an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers award.
With this newfound achievement came backlash. Many artists and traditional listeners of bachata didn’t acknowledge the group because they didn’t dress like bachateros and they found the Aventura bachata-hip-hop-rap-rock-reggaeton fusion sound to stray too far from the old ways of the music. But Aventura stuck to its ways and continued to make songs that had a bachata backbone (songs of yearning that start with a spoken intro and repetitive chords) fused with mostly hip-hop and sometimes reggaeton beats.
“What I hate is the ‘haters’. There are a lot of haters in this industry, who just can’t accept that we did something new, we brought a new style, we are still up here, we’re not going anywhere and you’ve got to deal with us.”
Since 2000, the group has made nine albums, sold four million records in the U.S. and sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden several times. After 2011, the members of the group have decided to follow their own musical paths. Max and Lenny created the group D’Element and Henry and Romeo are on solo artists.
Romeo is touring throughout the United States for his sophomore album “Formula Vol.2,” and Henry second album, “Henry Santos’ My Way,” will be released on June 25th. Earlier this year, in January, Lenny had spoken about there being a possible Aventura reunion for the future.
- They have been inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame
- The entire group is of Dominican descent, but Romeo is also half Puerto Rican
- They all attended South Bronx High School
- Lenny and Max didn’t think the group would disband until Henry decided to go solo
- Obsesion was number one in seven countries and is considered in France to be the 19th best-selling song of the 21st century