The Backstory of Bachata Boy Band Aventura

Bronx boys developed urban bachata music style

Aventura. Courtesy Univision

Bachata boy band Aventura came together in 1994 when a group of teenage boys living in the Bronx, NY, with a common passion for R&B, hip-hop and reggaeton music decided to infuse the music of the Dominican Republic into contemporary music. Their growth to popularity in 2002 helped define a new musical style, urban bachata, which launched the bachata musical style into the same realm of salsa and merengue in popularity.

The group was like the thousands of teenagers who get together to make music in their parents' den or garage. They each shared a common heritage and grew up listening to bachata, the indigenous Dominican genre that is known as the "music of sorrow or bitterness."

The Band Members

The band consisted of Anthony "Romeo" Santos, lead singer and composer; Lenny Santos, guitarist, producer and arranger; Henry Santos Jeter, singer and composer; and Max "Mikie" Santos, rapper, bass and guitar player.

Anthony was born on July 12, 1981, in the Bronx. His mother was Puerto Rican and his father was Dominican. Henry, his cousin, was born on December 15, 1979, in Moca, Dominican Republic. His family moved to New York when he was 14.

Lenny was born on October 24, 1979, in the Bronx to Dominican parents. Max, his brother, was the youngest of the group, born on January 30, 1982.

The Santos boys started making music together while attending South Bronx High School.

Their band's name was "Los Teenagers," and they performed for local events and competed against other local teenage bands.

Grupo Aventura

In 1999, the band was signed by BMG under their new name, Grupo Aventura. Their debut album was "Generation Next," using an outside producer for the first time. This was the big era of boy bands and there was some pressure to model themselves on successful groups like the Back Street Boys, but Grupo Aventura stood firm in defining their own style and retaining the bachata elements that were the foundation of their music.

Their Success

Generation Next really did not garner much attention outside of their New York and Dominican fanbase. But their 2002 album "We Broke The Rules" surprised everyone when the album's break-out single, "Obsesion." became a smash hit, earning Anthony Santos the distinction of becoming the first Hispanic or Latino composer to earn an ASCAP award in the American market.

Aventura continued to grow with their next albums and mobbed concert tours. In 2007, their live album, K.O.B. Live, was nominated for a Latin Grammy as the Best Contemporary Tropical Album.

On the road to success, Aventura encountered much resistance from New York's bachata-loving audiences who did not want their favorite music sullied with the sounds of modern hip-hop and R&B. The resistance was ironic. Bachata was traditionally known as the bad boy of music in the Dominican Republic; bachata icon Luis Vargas talks about sneaking out to perform bachata while he was young, since the music form was not considered acceptable.

Aventura held fast to the music they loved and the musical fusion they created. Aventura maintained the enthusiastic approval of not just New York's Dominican population but a huge international following.

Their Split

The band separated in 2011. Anthony and Henry embarked on their own solo careers while Lenny and Max Santos joined Steve Styles from the bachata group Xtreme to form a new band, called "Grupo Vena."

Aventura held a reunion set of concerts for the month of February at the United Palace Theater in New York City. Their first concert since their split started with a sold out crowd on February 4, 2016, with the final concert ending on February 28, 2016.

More About Bachata

Bachata is a genre of Latin American music that originated in the Dominican Republic in the first half of the 20th century with European, indigenous and African musical elements. The style is traditionally performed using acoustic guitars, bongos, and maracas. Bachata has been compared to the American Blues.