As I was walking into my office building, I was greeted with a warm hello from Leonel, the security guard, and the melodic sounds emanating from his radio. It was a bachata— a distinctly recognizable sound that can be roughly described as a fusion of bolero with bits of cha-cha-cha, pasillo, and tropical influences—native of the Dominican Republic.
The song on Leonel’s radio was by Romeo Santos, lead singer of the bachata group, Aventura. The surprising thing was the special guest vocalist on the song: Usher. That’s right, Usher of R&B fame is now singing bachata.
As I heard Usher crooning the lyrics of the song, Promise, in typical bachata style, I couldn’t help but say “wow.” Aren’t artists usually trying to cross over the other way? And when they do, don’t they generally stick to their own genre? This Romeo-Usher collaboration is a definite first. It’s very telling of the times we’re living in and the opportunities to connect across cultures.What a great way for Usher to broaden his fan base among bachata lovers and for R&B fans to get exposed to bachata. It’s great to see this once marginalized musical genre being embraced internationally among Latinos andnon-Latinos alike.
Below is a link to the English-language video of Promise. (I warn you, it’s a bit provocative).