Romeo Santos: from the Bronx in New York to the Dominican Republic: a successful singing star
Romeo Santos has had many successes with a group called Aventura and as a soloist. But to truly understand it, you need to trace its background from the beginning to the present.
Anthony Santos was born in the Bronx, New York in 1981. His father is Dominican and his mother is Puerto Rican. He grew up near Yankee Stadium and is fluent in Spanish and English. Romeo has said that it was a nice neighborhood in the sense that it was a mix of African Americans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans and they all knew each other.
At home, his mother influenced him musically. Romeo said that “he had a beautiful voice and played romantic ballasts like José José and Julio Iglesias.”
His older sister, Laura, is his personal manager and said he was a quiet boy but liked to sing. Even when he played with toys, he hummed. “
At age 13, Santos joined the choir of his Catholic church so he could meet the girls he really liked. He said that he “realized he joined the choir for the wrong reasons when he started getting compliments for his singing. Since then, music became his mission because he felt this is the only thing I’m good at.” .
When he was 15 years old he began to develop a passion for bachata music and said that “many of the songs did not have a good reputation and the lyrics were quite vulgar and negative”. All that changed when in 1999 he formed a group with three of his relatives and called it Aventura.
Through trial and error over a long period of time, they experimented with Bachata music and finally got the mix of sound they wanted. It was smooth and more contemporary. As they proceeded to sing their revised Bachata-style music, it began to gather steam. The group sold 1.8 million albums and had several top-ten hits. Since Romeo was the group’s singer, songwriter, and producer, his superstar status became more credible.
As one analyst put it, “Romeo wrote words that were simple and with which people could identify.” It should also be noted that Romeo wrote some lyrics that read like steamy soap operas. This was demonstrated with the first world-wide Adventure hit titled “Obsession”.
A little-known fact that speaks volumes about his mother’s character was this: As the Aventura star was on the rise, he broke up with the girl he’d been seeing since high school only to find out she was pregnant. Their son Alex was born in 2001. Romeo said that “he was immature and for the first year and a half he made excuses for not committing himself and wanted to focus on his music.”
It took his beloved mother a while to make him understand that he had to “be a man” and he did. He bought a house for his ex-girlfriend and Alex. He has reached out to his son, who is now 14 years old, and interacts with him as a good father should. How lucky is Romeo to have a mother who has the character to remind her son to do the right thing at the crossroads of life.
In 2011 he gave notice that he was leaving Aventura to start a solo career. Two years after doing so, he featured Usher and Lil Wayne in songs with English lyrics that are the closest he’s ever come to mainstream R&B. “I’m reaching a huge audience,” Romeo said, “I’m doing what artists like Beyoncé are doing in terms of selling stadium tickets. The difference is that my audience speaks Spanish.”
In 2014, Romeo sold out two nights at Yankee Stadium and did it solo rather than like other big-name artists who needed a fellow famous singer to partner with them to fill the house.
At the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards, Romeo Santos took home 10 awards, including Artist of the Year, Composer of the Year, Producer of the Year, Hot Latin Songs Artist of the Year, and Best Latin Album of the Year for Formula, Vol 2.
During the ceremony Romeo made a special comment to Marc Anthony telling him that he had the great privilege of recording with Marc and that he was like a brother to him. The fact that Romeo did that pleased me, as Marc Anthony is one of my favorite singers. Marc is REALLY a GOOD singer. So I’m happy that Romeo gave him a special thank you.
Finally, it is with confidence that I say that the boy from the Bronx in New York will have a brilliant career given the success and guidance he has had.