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Chayanne: 25 Years Of Stardom At The Peak Of Latin Pop Drummer Eddie Rosado's Music Teaches Lessons In Culture
Chayanne: 25 Years Of Stardom At The Peak Of Latin Pop
LEILA COBO; Billboard
July 6, 2004
You don't need to be a fan of Latin music, or even to know Chayanne's name, to know his likeness.
His smile has adorned Dentyne and Pepsi commercials. His hips swayed alongside Vanessa Williams' in the film "Dance With Me."
And yes, he is indeed the studly guy who has been on People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list.
But while non-Latins may be familiar with Chayanne's face, Latins everywhere recognize his voice.
After 25 years as a professional musician and with 12 solo albums to his name, Chayanne epitomizes Latin pop.
"Chayanne genuinely represents the best of Latin entertainment," says Frank Welzer, chairman/CEO of Latin America at Sony Music International.
"He is the ultimate performer who can sing, dance and act equally well, and he's one of the best-looking people on the planet. He also happens to be a joy to work with and one of the nicest people I know."
"He is one of these people everyone genuinely wants to see succeed," says Luana Pagani, Sony Music International senior vice president of marketing for Norte/Latin America.
Chayanne's 25 years in the business justifies the enthusiasm.
"I [have] toured since I was a little kid," he says. "I would get taken by car. Arrived, played the show, then get back in the car and go to some other town. It's what I call `a column of support.' There's a base that has been built, and that base supports you."
Chayanne keeps a low profile. He does not travel with an entourage, shields his children from the media and keeps largely to himself, except when he's on tour.
The simplicity of Chayanne's lifestyle is rooted in his upbringing, which focused not on stardom but family life.
Born Elmer Figueroa Arce in Puerto Rico, Chayanne's mother based his artistic nickname on the 1950s TV Western series "Cheyenne."
Chayanne was always musical, but he admits he stumbled into a professional career when, at 10, he accompanied his older sister to an audition for a teen group made up of boys and girls.
Instead, he says, "right there and then, they changed the concept and created a boy quartet."
The group was call Los Chicos, and they became a phenomenon in the Latin marketplace, similar to that of fellow Puerto Ricans Menudo.
Chayanne recorded five albums with Los Chicos before branching out on his own and signing with CBS Records, which later became Sony. His debut album, "Chayanne Es Mi Nombre," was released in 1984 and followed by a succession of albums, culminating in last year's Grammy Award-nominated "Sincero."
But unlike other Latin acts who have seen their popularity surge with a specific album or a crossover into English, Chayanne's growth has been slow and steady, encompassing many Grammy nominations and Billboard Awards and a fan base that seems to grow with each year.
At first, that audience was small. Chayanne recalls days of constant touring in less-than-ideal conditions. In Puerto Rico, where opportunities for public performance abound, Chayanne traveled from town to town, relentlessly performing as he built his fan base as a solo artist.
It's hard to say exactly when he made the transition from local personality to regional star to an international favorite, but the progression continues.
"There are not many artists that get better with time," says Kate Ramos, vice president of marketing and artist development for Vivelo. "In airplay and live, he just gets better. And that's unusual."
Vivelo, the promotion company formed between Clear Channel Entertainment and Mexican media giant Televisa in 2001, signed Chayanne to an exclusive deal last February. Vivelo is the sole promoter of the U.S. leg of Chayanne's 2004 tour. The tour has played at arenas and theaters and is part of a worldwide, 90-date tour that includes stops in Latin America, Spain, Europe and secondary markets like Japan and Australia.
"We look at Chayanne not as 12 [U.S.] tour dates but as a long-term venture," Ramos adds. "I think he has still yet to reach his peak."
Patricia Bolivar, who has worked with Chayanne for 16 years and has been his manager since 1996, agrees.
"Chayanne is the only artist I know [who is] capable of doing the kind of tours he does and selling them out," Bolivar says. "I'm being contacted by interested parties in Japan and other new markets, and that's what I'll be concentrating on. Chayanne is an artist you have to display so people will fall in love with him. And I've never been mistaken in that perception."
Known in the United States primarily as a balladeer, Chayanne is actually the prototypical Latin pop star, capable of delivering uptempo and romantic ballads with equal ease.
"I design music for Chayanne," says singer/songwriter Estefano, who has written and produced for the artist for years. "And when I say `design,' I mean not just write, but design. Because he's a performer and a great dancer, and he convinces you as such. And he's one of the most [powerful] Latin singers when he sings ballads. So I love designing romantic music and the rhythmic, aggressive material for the visual Chayanne."
Chayanne's first major radio hit was 1987's upbeat "Fiesta en America," which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks list.
Since then, Chayanne has had a string of No. 1s on the Hot Latin Tracks chart, including "Completamente Enamorados" (1990), "El Centro De Mi Corazon" (1992), "Dejaria Todo" (1998), "Yo Te Amo" (2000) and "Y Tu Te Vas" (2003).
"Y Tu Te Vas," penned by Franco de Vita, was named hot Latin track of the year at the 2003 Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Chayanne has also seen growing sales.
While 1993's "Provocame" peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, his latest album, 2003's "Sincero," debuted at No. 1. While 2002's "Grandes Exitos" peaked atop the chart, "Simplemente" peaked at No. 3 in 2001.
In between albums and tours, Chayanne has peppered his career with appearances in commercials and acting on TV and in film. American audiences are most familiar with "Dance With Me," in which he starred alongside Vanessa Williams.
Since then, Bolivar says, offers for other roles have come in, but not the "right" ones.
What Chayanne did take on was the lead role in an Argentine soap opera, "Provocame." Although producer Gustavo Yankelevich originally envisioned him in a "musical" role, Chayanne declined mixing music with acting. Yankelevich still cast him.
"Because of his presence, his enormous charisma, because we knew he was a good actor," Yankelevich says. "And finally, we knew that Chayanne's success in many territories would open doors for us with this soap."
Hugely successful in Argentina, "Provocame" was exported throughout Latin America and further secured Chayanne's status as a star vested in the Latin American marketplace. The soap opera was sold to numerous international markets, including Russia, the Philippines, Israel, Greece, the Czech Republic and Italy.
With all of these accomplishments, though, Chayanne has yet to record an English-language album.
"I believe it's the appropriate moment for Chayanne to launch a new artistic direction," Bolivar says of such ventures. "Because he already completely dominates the Latin market."
Living In Rhythms; Drummer Eddie Rosado's Music Teaches Lessons In Culture
By Louise Harbach
July 11, 2004
Drums are only part of the equation that equals Eddie Rosado.
Without them, he said, life "would be without purpose." But there is more to the jembe, jun jun, congas and other drums he plays.
"I teach the rhythms of the world, particularly to those who may not know how much drums are a part of their culture," said Rosado, 42, who describes himself as "a little bit of this and that," including Puerto Rican, African American and Italian.
Rosado, raised in the Bronx and Brooklyn, abandoned his career as a emergency medical technician nearly nine years ago for the drums, a decision he has never regretted.
"When I play the drums, I am teaching others about drumming," Rosado said of his larger mission.
He performs for whoever will pay the bill - "you've got to do that if you want to make it as a professional musician" - but if he could choose his audience, it would be children.
"I realized early on when I appeared before school groups, particularly those in the inner city, that many of these kids had no idea of their own history," said Rosado, a former resident of Delran and Willingboro who now lives in Cherry Hill. "I want them to know, through my drumming, where they came from... . I don't want this Latino culture to be lost."
Being a role model is something Rosado takes seriously.
"Some of these kids need a Latino role model, a person who can teach them the many positive things about their culture," Rosado said.
The payback often comes months, if not years, later.
"I know I've done my job when kids come back to me and say I've made a difference in their lives, that they now know where they are coming from - and where they are going," he said.
Rosado is scheduled to appear July 23 as part of the Camden County Cultural & Heritage Commission's summer patio program series, which explores different cultures.
"Eddie is the consummate performer, and he's great at getting kids involved," said Ruth Bogutz of the commission, who has invited Rosado numerous times to perform at the center. "And he's a great role model."
When he is not performing with En Passant, a Latin jazz group he started, or with Folkloric Heritage Drum and Dance Ensemble, which he founded to introduce audiences to African and Afro-Caribbean cultures, Rosado teaches drumming to students such as John McGill, an Edgewater Park lawyer.
"Ever since I was a kid I wanted to take drumming lessons, but I never got around to doing it," said McGill, who has known Rosado since 1996. "Eddie is an excellent musician, and his love for drumming comes through when he's teaching."
McGill performs frequently with Rosado. A highlight is watching him interact with teenagers and younger children.
"Eddie is every charismatic," McGill said. "He really gets the kids excited, and he makes each one feel special."
Rosado's grandfather in Puerto Rico sent his daughter, Aida, to New York to live with relatives, hoping to prevent her from marrying an Italian suitor, Pedro Rosado.
It did not work.
"My mother called my father and told him to come to New York," Rosado said.
But she did not get her way with her son - she wanted Rosado to be a guitarist.
"My mother forced me to take guitar lessons, but she realized how futile that was after I saw someone play the drums when I was 14 years old and started learning drumming on my own," he said.
His mother, a nurse, was as successful in turning her son into a doctor. Rosado became an emergency medical technician and worked for more than a dozen years out of Station 36 in Brooklyn.
"I come from a family of five cops on my mother's side, and everyone but my mother wanted me to become a cop," said Rosado, who decided to forgo teaching history, his major at Hunter College, to be an EMT.
In 1991, while visiting relatives in Willingboro, he decided to move from Brooklyn to Burlington County, but still work as an EMT in New York. At the same time he started performing with the Afro-One Dance and Drum Ensemble, based in Burlington County.
Nearly five years later, he went from an income-topping $50,000 to zero when he quit his EMT job to become a professional drummer.
"I've been blessed," Rosado said. "I'm established enough now to earn a living as a musician and, while that is important, it's also important to teach others the values I've learned through drumming... . Drumming has taught me discipline and the value of concentration. It brings me happiness and lifts my spirit."