Aventura - Profile of a Bachata Boy Band

Aventura. Courtesy Univision

Aventura was formed in 1994 by a group of teenage boys living in the Bronx, NY. They were like the thousands of teenagers who get together to make music in their parents' den or garage. They liked the music of their contemporaries, leaning towards R&B, hip hop and reggaeton. But, with roots in the music of the Dominican Republic, they also grew up listening to bachata, the indigenous Dominican genre that's known as the "music of sorrow or bitterness".

The Band Members:

  • Anthony "Romeo" Santos: lead singer, composer
    Lead singer Anthony "Romeo" Santos was born on July 12, 1981 in the Bronx, NY. His mother was Puerto Rican, his father Dominican. Anthony is also the featured composer of the group.
  • Lenny Santos: guitarist, producer/arranger
    Also native to the Bronx, Lenny Santos was born October 24, 1979, to Dominican parents. Lenny is the musical producer/arranger of the group.
  • Henry Santos Jeter: singer, composer
    Henry was born December 15, 1979 in Moca, Dominican Republic. His family moved to New York when he was 14 and he is Anthony Santos' cousin.
  • Max "Mikie" Santos: bass, guitar
    Max was born in the Bronx in 1982 and is the brother of Lenny Santos. Max is the rock/rap proponent in the group and sang the rap rifts on Aventura's albums.

Los Teenagers:

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.

We Broke The Rules:

Generation Next really didn't garner much attention outside of their New York/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 composer to earn an ASCAP award in the American market.

Aventura's continued to grow with their next albums and mobbed concert tours. In 2007, 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. An audience holding firm to what they saw as 'traditional' music is ironic. Bachata was the bad boy of music in the Dominican Republic; bachata icon Luis Vargas talks about sneaking out to perform bachata while he was young - the form just wasn't considered acceptable.

Today, holding fast to the music they loved and the fusions they created, Aventura has the enthusiastic approval of not just New York's Dominican population, but has gained a large international following.

Listen to Aventura:

  • Generation Next (1999)
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  • We Broke The Rules (2002)
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  • Love & Hate (2003)
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  • God's Project (2005)
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  • K.O.B. Live (2006)
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