Anthony "Romeo" Santos (född 21 juli, 1981) är en amerikansk sångare, kompositör och tidigare sångare i Bachata gruppen Aventura. Som medlem i Aventura, har Santos varit en nyckelperson i popularisera Bachata, med hits som når nära toppen av Billboard latinska diagram och översidan av diagram i Europa. År 2002, bandets låt "Obsesión" var nummer ett i Italien för sexton veckor i följd.
Santos föddes i Bronx, New York, USA för att en Dominikanska far och en Puerto Rican-mor. Vid tolv års ålder, blev han en medlem av kyrkokören. Medan gruppen presterar i både engelska och spanska, var deras arbete mycket ignoreras av engelskspråkiga medier under den tidiga delen av sin karriär.
Den 9 maj 2011, släppte Santos sin första singel, "Du", från hans kommande solo debutalbum, Formula. Låten blev en nummer ett debut på de heta latinska låtar och Tropical Songs diagram. Den andra singeln visade från hans album var "Promise" som har en duett med Usher. Den enda har nått sin kulmen på nummer # 1 på Hot Latin Songs diagram och nummer ett på den tropiska Songs diagrammet.
Anthony "Romeo" Santos (born July 21, 1981) is an American singer, featured composer and former lead singer of the Bachata group Aventura. As a member of Aventura, Santos has been a key figure in popularizing Bachata, with hits reaching near the top of the Billboard Latin charts and the top of charts in Europe. In 2002, the band's song "Obsesión" was number one in Italy for sixteen consecutive weeks.
Santos was born in The Bronx, New York, United States to a Dominican father and a Puerto-Rican mother. At twelve years of age, he became a member of the church choir. While the group performs in both English and Spanish, their work was widely ignored by the English-language media during the early part of their career. On May 9, 2011, Santos released his first single, "You", from his upcoming solo debut album, Formula.
The song became a number-one debut on the Hot Latin Songs and Tropical Songs chart. The second single revealed from his album was "Promise" which features a duet with Usher. The single has peaked at number #1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart and number one on the Tropical Songs chart.
FOR the last decade Anthony Santos, the lead singer of the bachata group Aventura, has been something of a secret hidden in plain sight. Though Aventura regularly fills Madison Square Garden and other arenas around the country and sells millions of records, Mr. Santos, known to his Latino fans as Romeo, has remained pretty much anonymous outside the Spanish-speaking world.
Now that may be about to change. On Tuesday Mr. Santos, 30, released his first solo CD, “Formula Vol. 1,” which features collaborations with Usher and Lil Wayne as well as cameos by Spanish-speaking artists like the flamenco guitarist Tomatito and the rapper La Mala Rodríguez. In addition he is about to shoot a sitcom pilot for ABC, to be set in Washington Heights, about a young Dominican-American and his complicated relationship with his old-fashioned immigrant father.
“What can I do that I have not already done in Aventura?” was the thought that Mr. Santos said ran through his mind when the group decided to take a hiatus and do solo projects. “I’ve always wanted to experiment singing in other genres and explore. But at the same time I want to make sure that people didn’t feel like I’ve sold out and I’m not going to be a bachatero no more. So I’ve kept a balance.”
Bachata is a string- and percussion-based style of danceable music born in the slums and the sugar-cane fields of the Dominican Republic and brought to the United States by Dominican immigrants. Aventura, all but one of whose members was born in New York, has modernized the genre by singing in a mixture of Spanish and English and by putting the voice of Mr. Santos — a high, caressing tenor verging on falsetto and much influenced by R&B crooners — front and center.
Although most of Aventura’s recordings were made independent of major labels and big-name producers (the group’s first major hit album, from 2002, was called “We Broke the Rules”), Mr. Santos’s CD is being issued by Sony. That company guided Latin music artists like Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin and Shakira to crossover success in the English-speaking market.
But all of them did so with albums recorded in English. Mr. Santos has insisted that most of the songs on what he sees as his breakout project be sung in Spanish or Spanglish, the mixture of Spanish and English that seems to be his preferred conversational mode.
“Our company has a great history with those artists who marked that first wave,” said Ruben Leyva, the president of Sony Music, U.S. Latin. “Romeo defines the next wave. He’s doing it on his own terms, and I do think that demographics have a lot to do with that. We’re living in a different world than 10 years ago. Hispanics are part of the cultural mix, and that allows him to reach a much greater swath of the public singing in Spanish.” According to the 2010 census the Hispanic population of the United States is now more than 50 million, making Latinos the nation’s largest minority group. Of those 18 or under, a core audience for Mr. Santos, more than 90 percent were born in this country, and many of them are bilingual and bicultural. That also makes a very attractive market for hip-hop, R&B and pop artists, some of whom seem to be as interested as Mr. Santos in crossing over. “We’re making history,” Usher said in a “making of” video that accompanies “Promise,” a track in which he sings bachata with Mr. Santos to the rippling accompaniment of a requinto, the small guitar that is the instrumental backbone of the genre.
George Noriega is a Cuban-American songwriter and producer who has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Ms. Estefan, Mr. Martin and Shakira and won a Grammy award. Mr. Santos brought him in to work on “Promise.,”
“Hearing Usher come in on a bachata, that’s something cool and fresh,” Mr. Noriega said. “You know that when this hits American radio, it’s giving you a flavor you haven’t felt before, and it’s going to perk up some ears, especially because Romeo has such an original-sounding voice. He’s like Barry Gibb, you know when it’s him.” Mr. Santos’s voice is indeed an anomaly, and the key to his success. He is tall and muscular, like the basketball player he once aspired to be, and his speaking voice is raspy. But when he sings his songs of love gone wrong, the sound that emerges is sweet, high pitched and soulful, similar to Luther Vandross or Smokey Robinson.
“I was looking at the video for ‘Promise,’ and there he is so totally vulnerable to the woman,” said Deborah Pacini Hernandez, author of “Oye Como Va! Hybridity and Identity in Latino Popular Music” and a professor of anthropology and American Studies at Tufts University. “He’s cute, and he has that voice, that pleading, breathy vulnerability that has to be so tremendously appealing to women. Bachata is not hip-hop or reggaetón, it’s a music that is about men’s softer, emotional side and yet is still a dance music.”
It is too early to tell how “Formula” will do commercially, but the first single, “You,” spent seven weeks at the top of the Latin charts this summer, and “Promise,” released last month, has also hit No. 1, with the video having already been viewed more than four million times on Vevo.
“I never liked the term crossover, or at least the definition that everyone has, that you record an album in English, and that’s a crossover,” Mr. Santos said. “I just felt like that if I’m going to cross over, why not have the English audience cross over too, to my world?”
Asked if the mainstream English-speaking music fans were ready to take that leap, he said he didn’t know. “But I know I’m ready for them,” he said. “Look, you’ve got to take risks, and that’s what we did in Aventura.”
Mr. Santos then slipped into Spanish to recite an old proverb: “De los cobardes, no se ha escrito nada,” or “Nothing has ever been written about cowards.” As he views it, the blending of styles of music is natural for someone of his generation and background.
“I was born and raised in the Bronx, and one of the great things growing up there is that I was exposed to many different genres,” he said. “You would go down the block, and on one corner you would hear bachata, on another corner some salsa, and of course there was hip-hop and R&B all over the place. So for me it is very organic to have these combinations, to be speaking in Spanglish.”
Mr. Santos’s first experience performing music came in a church choir, which he and a cousin, Henry Santos Jeter, joined not so much out of interest in religion or singing as, he now admits, “to get chicks.” At Morris High School in the mid-1990s they were introduced to the brothers Lenny and Max Santos, who led a band that was trying to mix bachata and rock, and the foursome soon became Aventura.
Initially Mr. Santos told his mother, who was born in Puerto Rico, and father, born in the Dominican Republic, that he was merely managing a band, since neither wanted their son to pursue the uncertain career of an entertainer. It’s that kind of incident, he said, that will provide fodder for the sitcom pilot he is going to be making next year, which does not yet have a title and has not been cast.
Mr. Santos said that when he was approached about doing the pilot, which is being produced by Overbrook Entertainment, Will Smith’s company, it baffled him. Overbrook did not respond to interview requests made through its publicist, but Steve Stoute, the hip-hop impresario who is also the author of a new book called “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy” and an executive producer of the pilot, suggested that Mr. Santos had the potential to become another Justin Timberlake, also a boy band graduate who has built a career as an actor.
“A couple of years ago, when Lady Gaga was coming up, she got all this attention when she was booked into Radio City Music Hall for four nights,” Mr. Stoute said. “But right at that same time Romeo and Aventura were playing Madison Square Garden for four nights, and they were selling it out. So I said to myself: Who is this guy, and why isn’t he commanding more attention?”
ABC seems to be thinking that Mr. Santos can help fill a void in its programming. With “Ugly Betty” now off the air after four seasons and “Desperate Housewives” with Eva Longoria, also on ABC, about to finish its eight-season run, the number of Hispanic characters on network television can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand, with the one played by Sofia Vergara on “Modern Family,” still another ABC sitcom, being perhaps the most prominent.
Mr. Santos goes into the project with the disadvantage of never having acted, at least formally. But he is going to be taking lessons, and he argues that his experience performing for large crowds gives him an advantage over a real novice.
“The reason I feel I’m capable of doing this is that I’m nothing like the character I’ve created onstage, this Romeo character,” he said. “I am very much a shy guy, and when I started out, I would be terrified, I wouldn’t look at the crowd, I’d literally be looking at the floor. But I’ve created this character where I’m acting. I see myself on footage and I say ‘That’s not me.’ ”