1. ¿POR QUE? Artist: Ingco Crew
2. HOMBRES Artist: Michelle Manzo
3. AUN TE RECUERDO Artist: BabyQ and MV
4. PERDERME EN TU MIRADA Artist: Ariel
5. AMOR AMOR AMOR Artist: Silvio Mora
6. AMOR EN LA LUNA Artist: Ephrem J
7. CUENTAME Artist: LD & Jhoni
8. PERDONAME POR NO PERDONARTE Artist: Charlie Mosquea
9. GALLETICAS DE AVENA Artist: Enrique Féliz
10. DIMELO DELANTE DE ELLA Artist: Amares
11. DAME CABEZA Artist: El Cupido de la Bachata
12. DILEMA POR UN HOMBRE Artist: Charlie Mosquea
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In the summer of 1996, in a modest community known as “El Ingco,” in Santiago, Dominican Republic, a group of young men got together with the idea of turning their hobby – musical improvisation – into a professional endeavor.
Influenced by hip-hop and Spanish reggae, the three, Mc Pablo (Pablo Matías), Little K (Kelvin Pichardo) and K-T (Kelvin Terrero) decided “to write about love, about young people’s experiences but, above all, with positive messages.”
Even though they were known locally since their early days, it was not until 2005 that the group began attracting attention from radio stations and to be included in daily radio programs, eventually becoming a listener favorite. In a short time, they established themselves as the most popular group in the region.
Then they met up with Premium Latin Music, an indie record label that helped them launch their project – performing reggaetón with a Dominican flavor. Their achievements to date include participation in local film productions such as “Sanky Panky,” and in the most important musical events held in their country.
Now with the launching of “Bachata Underground” they once more prove their talent and versatility, together with other performers who, like them, are moving ahead in the international arena.
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Michelle Manzo was born and raised in Miami in a Dominican and Cuban household. She recalls hearing Cuban folkloric music while growing up. “Our family used to get together and play percussion instruments and chant. It is a spiritual connection that most Cubans have. But I also had a special interest in classical music, especially Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. My ears were wide open at an early age. I was eager to absorb anything musical.” Michelle, who is mostly self-taught on piano, began singing in church and in school. She attended a high school that offered rigorous training for vocalists and was one of the top singers in the advanced show choir where they performed a cappella pieces and show tunes. She traveled with the group to national competitions, and performed in many places along the Eastern Seaboard and throughout Florida where the ensemble took countless awards. When she graduated from high school, Michelle was unsure of what to do next. While attending college she first considered becoming a teacher. But the turning point came when she took a jazz appreciation course. “The class took place at eight in the morning during the summer. The teacher had us differentiate between all of the different instruments and taught us about music from each of the different eras. Very quickly, I was completely hooked and immersed myself in jazz for the next two years, constantly listening to jazz records. I loved the syncopated rhythms, which hit so close to home and reminded me of Cuban and African music I grew up with, and also the complex harmonies which I could hear in Bach and Beethoven. It brought everything together that I had grown up listening to and it made perfect sense. I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing, and wanted to do it for the rest of my life.” Although she continued performing top 40, Latin music and R & B, as well as recording commercial jingles, she had found her true musical direction.
Michelle relocated to New York City in 2003, where she performed at the Cape Cod Jazz Festival, Raue Performing Arts Center, New Jersey Performing Artist Center, National Arts Club, Zinc Bar and many other venues throughout New York. Among the musicians she has played with are greats such as Ray Santos, Victor Jones, Gene Bertoncini, Les Paul, Ron Affif, Robert Rodriguez, Mike Rodriguez, Art Hirahara, Marco Panacia, Elias Bailey, Tommy Moromoto, Kim Clark and Dan Aran. She has also performed Spanish-language rock, Salsa and Merengue. She won an award at a songwriter festival in Taiwan for a tune she wrote based on a Buddhist poem. Michelle also narrated and sang in the children’s audio book that was written about Celia Cruz.
During this past summer, Michelle performed for nearly two months in Thailand where she sang with her quartet to packed houses on a daily basis.
The song “Hombres” is a bachata-jazz-R&B fusion with a little Son thrown in. Michelle showcases here amazing, honey-toned voice as well as her improvisational skills in the outro section of the song.
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Eudys Batista aka “Baby Q,” native of the Dominican Republic, relocated to the United States when he was 14 years of age. In Santo Domingo he had been a Hip Hop dancer, so that when he arrived in the US and entered high school, he was consumed with a love for music.
Baby Q commenced is professional career in the 90s in New York City where he participated in talent shows, festivals, TV programs and others. He had the good fortune of being selected to record commercials and jingles for the most important national radio station in the Hispanic music business – WSKQ Mega 97.9 FM. He also recorded a commercial for the television network Univision Channel 41, which became very popular.
During that era Baby Q was the lead voice in jingles produced for el Vacilón de la Mañana; this role launched his artistic career and made him a star. Because of his stint at Mega, Baby Q had the opportunity to collaborate with many artists from diverse musical styles: Magic Juan, Alberto Stylee, DJ Blass, Playero, Huey Dunbar, Shalim, Oro Sólido, Mala Fé, Elvis Martinez, Nueva Era, among others. He also had the privilege of sharing the stage with stellar celebrities such as Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Wisin & Yandel, Fat Joe, Puff Daddy, Hector el Father, Zion & Lennox, Pitbul and Aventura.
In 2004 Baby Q released his debut record entitled “Los Dueños de la Discoteca” (together with Jhosy) under the auspices of Univision Records. The record was a great success and propelled him to international fame.
Baby Q has showcased his talent on some of the most prestigious artistic stages such as Madison Square Garden Arena, American Airlines Arena (Miami), United Palace and La Copa (NY), among many others.
Margarita Vargas (aka “MV”)
Margarita Vargas, aka MV, is a vibrant new artist on the cutting edge of pop/rock and urban music. Born in the Dominican Republic, MV grew up singing, modeling and acting. At the age of 10 she wrote her first song, which she named “I Am Bringing You The Rhythm Of The Music.”
From a very young age she performed in churches, schools, and in local events in her hometown, San Francisco De Macoris. MV was always accompanied by her father who also sang and played the guitar, and by her brother – singer and piano player. She was able to juggle school with the music and modeling.
As a teenager, she became a professional model and though she worked a lot, she never forgot her real passion and what she really wanted to do – to be a singer.
MV also took acting lessons and has appeared in several movies such as “Who’s The Man”, “The Beauty Of Down”, “Raw Nerve”, “Brooklyn’s Finest” and “Camino Malo.” She has also appeared in videos, commercials and television shows such as “The Bill Cosby Show”, “The Contender”, “Law & Order,” among others.
MV was given the opportunity to record professionally with “Full Force,” the very talented group of producers responsible for Lisa Lisa’s career. Full Force is notorious for having produced many hit songs for Justin Timberlake, Selena, The Backstreet Boys, Rhianna, Fergie, Britney Spears and many more.
Ariel was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. As a youngster, he demonstrated an amazing aptitude for music in general, with outstanding vocal skills. By age 10 he was already performing at frequent concerts and festivals in his hometown and was known as a child prodigy. As the years passed, Ariel grew musically. An adolescent, now residing in New York City, he dived into the world of merengue, guided by his cousin Monchi who was also a resident of the Big Apple. He was later recruited by the legendary New York Band, one of the most important, innovative New York-based merengue ensembles in the entire history of the style; he traveled the world with this amazing group from Europe to Latin America. After a stint with the New York Band, he performed with the Wilfrido Vargas’ Orchestra, an absolute icon of merengue culture, a historic group that exploded merengue around the world.
Apart from his outstanding vocal skills, Ariel is also a prolific songwriter, accomplished dancer and choreographer.
The sum of Ariel’s experience is reflected in his stellar performance of the song “Perderme en tu mirada.” The singer Ariel is the embodiment of “gillette” technique, nuance and soul.
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Silvio Mora may be young but he is definitely no newcomer to the music scene. Born in Switzerland and raised in Dominican Republic, this multi-faceted showman developed his unique style performing with the Hotel Jaragua Orchestra in Santo Domingo. The Jaragua is, in fact, a virtual breeding ground for savvy, well-seasoned musicians in Quisqueya. The house band is subject to a tedious 7 night a week, four-sets-per-night, grueling schedule; night after night, each member of the group must appear polished and upbeat. In November 2001, after years at the Jaragua, Silvio decided to test the waters as soloist; he and several musicians left the hotel band to form “Silvio Mora y su Orquesta.”
Silvio is as comfortable in front of a television camera as he is before a live audience of thousands and his debut solo venture demonstrates his well-rounded capabilities as a crooner of romantic classics with a formidable vocal range (Solo tu, Hasta que me olvide); a hip and humorous trendsetter with a flare for lyrics that speak to today’s youth (Novio con dinero); and a general gift for creating catchy refrains that resonate far and wide with his ever-expanding audience (Camaron, Carrito rojo de carrera).
Silvio Mora’s music has enjoyed considerable radio airplay in the Dominican Republic and parts of the United States, due to the artist’s tireless work ethic and unbounded energy as a performer.
Silvio’s participation in Bachata Underground is going to surprise many people. Though he spent years performing elegant Orchestral Merengue, he did not connect with the audience until he released “Camaron,” a street merengue. A large majority of his core audience doesn’t realize what a great vocalist Silvio really is. With the performance of “Amor, Amor,” Silvio will break the mold and no longer be categorized only as a “Mambero” artist, but a great singer in his own right.
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Ephrem Jonathan Ocalia was born on November 24, 1984 in Curacao. An artist’s birthplace is not usually considered a basis for talent. However, Ephrem’s origin seems to explain a lot about his multi faceted affinity for music. He started his career as a singer in the 90’s, working in several bands where a plethora of Tropical, Latin and American music genres were often combined with African inspired rhythms in fusions that were esthetically pleasing with an international flair.
Confident about his vocal and songwriting skills, Ephsrem soon found his unique path to meshing romantic lyrics which appealed to the Latin American and Caribbean audience, with arrangements in the “light” Adult Contemporary vein; he released his first solo album in July 2007, debuting a nouveau fusion of elements. Both the song “Speransa” (Hope), and “Stimabu So” (‘Love You So’) from this debut topped local charts. A 10,000 plus audience cheering and swaying to Ephrem J’s performance of the song ‘Stimabu So” at the Big Shot Concert, (one of the top Dutch Caribbean events) in October 2007 was a defining moment in his life, basically launching his career. “This is the kind of music that some women totally swoon over because it’s very romantic and sweet”, confirmed Kyler England from www.wearelistening.org. When Ephrem took second place with the song “Stimabu So” at the 2008 World Music Songwriting Competition – a panel hosted by prestigious A & R from Universal, Epic, Sony and Putumayo – his career took flight on the international stage. On a local level, Ephrem J took the “Edgar Supriano-award,” bestowed by the National Association of Musicians and Artists as best singer for the year 2007.
Ephrem was soon recognized as a singer/songwriter with unprecedented vocal ability; this assessment was reinforced when the 50 piece Harmonic Orchestra of the Royal Marines of the Netherlands performed with Ephrem J at the annual celebration in Willemstad. The success of his first album continued as the song “Stimabu So” was selected as a runner-up and finalist in the 100% Music Songwriter Contest and the World of Music Awards (www.wearelistening.org). He performed the song with New York based band Carimi.
In December 2008 Ephrem J released his second album “Latin Evolution” with several Salsa songs, once again demonstrating his prowess as a singer/songwriter. In January 2009 the song “Mala suerte” from his album placed in the Top 5 for the “Song of the Month” selection while Ephrem J placed in the top 5 for “Vocalist of the Month,” an award presented by Dale Kawashima of www.singeruniverse.com. Other songs on the album, including the adaptation of Ruben Blades’ song “El Nacimiento de Ramiro” and “Te Quiero” were well received. He soon performed in several (pre-) shows, including a Dimension Latina concert held in Willemstad, Curacao; at the Calle Ocho Festival in Miami, as well as in several Miami night clubs. His song “Ella” and the album “Latin Evolution” were on the Latin Grammy pre-nomination lists for 2009.
“Amor en la Luna,” a song to be included in the new album ME ENTREGO, was arranged and produced by mastermind Martires de Leon of the Dominican Republic; it is representative of new directions in contemporary bachata and showcases Ephrem J’s crisp and clean vocals and exemplary songwriting. “Amor en la Luna” has been a vehicle to his performing at various venues around the world – from Los Angeles, California, to the Caribbean and Latin America. The latter song rose to #2 on the prestigious Dutch Caribbean Top 100 Chart, and was widely acclaimed by the music and entertainment industry. The success of the song was catalyst for yet another award from the National Association of Musicians and Artists in the Dutch Caribbean; this was Ephrem J’s third, distinguishing him as the most recognized singer and songwriter over the last five years. Ephrem J has won a record 10 awards – Premio Karabela; 3 “Edgar Supriano” awards from the national Association of Musicians and Artists; 3 times Premio Latino y Locales each for best voice, song of the year and his popularity; 2 credits as soloist of the year by the 2 most-listened-to radio stations; best music video 2010 (“Amor en la Luna”), and Best Performer of the Year 2010, as well as several other private recognitions by school and neighborhood organizations.
Ephrem J is also a philanthropist who believes in giving back to his community. He commenced his career as soloist by organizing activities to raise funds to help children-in-need and for the financing of foster programs; he has since participated in several fundraising and benefit shows and other similar activities.
During his musical journey towards the release his third album, Ephrem J is already earmarked to perform at several European, (Latin) American and Caribbean shows, festivals and concerts.
LD & Jhoni are “what’s next in Latin music.” Both members of the duo were born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York from early childhood. Each brings his own unique style fusing classic Latin, Salsa, Reggaeton and progressive urban pop. This is a sound yet to be heard in modern music.
Erison Pena – aka LD (LD for “legendary”) – is a fiery young talent. Brought up in the Bronx. From the age of six, he was surrounded by the sounds that would shape his creative spirit. LD’s father is a well regarded musician and producer; his grandfather, two uncles and a brother are all musical and have been influences. Justin Timberlake has also made an imprint on LD’s style. Rapper and cousin, Baby Boy, played a key role in getting LD’s talent noticed by including him on several popular recordings.
Johnathon Ramos – aka Jhoni – came to New York at the age of ten with his parents who wanted to pursue a life with better opportunities for the family. By eleven he was composing his own material and, from this young age, has insisted on growing musically in his own unique way. When Jhoni was fourteen, his brother brought home the latest technology in music production software for the home computer. Jhoni took over, spending endless hours at the computer while studying the production techniques used by Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Luny Tunes, Scott Storch and others. It wasn’t long before he was creating original beats and producing & composing songs of his own.
In 2008, a friend insisted the LD and Jhoni meet. Jhoni’s material was pop and R&B, written and recorded in English. LD was working with Baby Boy on urban pop and Reggaeton songs in Spanish. Jhoni met well-known music executive, Glenn Acosta (Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez), who recommended he work with LD and Baby Boy, concentrating on Spanish lyrics. The two musicians felt an immediate musical connection and soon LD & Jhoni became a group. They had soon written dozens of songs in widely varied styles, employing a spectrum of unique sounds. Now with the guidance of former Sony Sr. Executive, Chris Apostle, Glenn Acosta and widely-acclaimed producer & arranger, Angel Fernandez (David Byrne, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, to name a few), the boys are prepared to be a major force in Latin music and beyond. LD & Jhoni have performed at the hottest venues in the Northeast. Part of their developmental experience has been working with producer Milton “Alcover” Restituyo, a producer recently signed by Don Omar who is working on his soon-to-be-released debut solo CD. You’ll find them on tracks with the likes of Chris Brown, Chingy, Baby Boy and Lenny Santos of the group, Aventura. Every day, the two are developing new music, new sounds as well as the “LD &Jhoni” image.
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Charlie Mosquea’s name is product of a phonetic metamorphasis. His legal name is González Mosque Melo. However, his parents’ intention was to name him Gonzalo – this 13 pound bundle of joy – that was far too much to handle for a poor family from the Nagua countryside.
But the scribe who registered newborns in the town must have been inebriated, and instead of writing in “Gonzalo,” the shameless individual wrote down “Gonzalez Mosquea” and “Gonzalez” it was. Then his younger sisters, who were unable to pronounce Gonzalez, started to call him “Chale.”
Later on, when the boy was 14, his family moved to Sábana de la Mar, a beautiful costal town that filled Charlie with romance and imagination. The muse stirred within him, just as the beautiful palms that bordered the bay flourished in this picturesque Dominican locale. The boy began, guided by his Christian upbringing, to sing in church, and later in “serenatas” and social events, until one day someone told him he needed to go to the Capital. And in the year 1982, after relocating to Santo Domingo, Charlie became the second most recorded songwriter in the Dominican Republic, with stellar compositions such as “Cualquiera se engaña “- Olga Lara; “Hombre y mujer” Anthony Rios; “Muchachita mia,” “Dejate querer,” “Pueblo mio” – Fernandito Villalona.
“Quiereme,” “Ese hombre soy yo,” “Pasacantando” “Me faltas tú,” “Amores que matan,” “Quítame la vida” – Alex Bueno.
“Probemos como amantes” – Nino Segarra;
“Siempre que pasa el amor,” “Dime donde,” “Mantequilla en pan caliente,” and the super-hit “Dile” by Sergio Vargas. These are just a few of the more than three hundred fifty songs that have been recorded during Charlie’s career. Charlie Mosquea is an iconic figure in the Caribbean, and one of the most beautiful artistic personalities Latin America has to offer. A true “Bohemio,” Charlie need only grab his guitar, and with his elegant, velvety voice, he can easily hypnotize any music-loving audience.
Enrique Feliz was born in Tamayo, province of Bahoruco, Dominican Republic. It was there that he went through elementary, middle and high school and where he first discovered his affinity for music and took his first steps towards becoming a singer, songwriter, performing in local groups.
As an adolescent Enrique emerged as protagonist in student political and social struggles. This era exercised significant influence over the direction his artistic career would take for more than a decade.
In 1975, he enrolled at the Santo Domingo Autonomous University where he majored in Education and Communications. He later abandoned university life and devoted himself exclusively to his musical career. However, with a new baby in the household, he was obliged to work as a teacher. He later became a director of two schools.
At UASD (Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo), he joined the group “MCU Canta” (MCU Sings), part of the University Cultural Movement and with them he toured all over the country, singing for students, workers and people from rural communities and at national events. His most popular song from that period was “Frases Inconclusas,” which his fans renamed “Yanikeke con Mabi.”
However, his merengue “El melao de Mireya,” recorded in 1985 with an arrangement by Juan Luis Guerra, became a Dominican pop clasic. It was that song that made him popular at a national level.
Enrique Feliz has worked with UNICEF, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Lambert Wargner Laboratories, the Dominican Telephone Company, the Francisco Alberto Caamaño Deño Foundation, CIAC (Centro de Investigación y Apoyo Cultural), The International Work Organization, Pastoral Materno Infantil, the Dominican Archbishopric and many other Dominican organizations.
In 1988 and 1989 he was awarded two Casandras for Best Children’s Show of the Year for his productions “La casa del tío Enrique”, and “Los duendes y el tío Enrique,” respectively. (The “Casandra” is similar to the Grammys in the Dominican Republic).
In 1990 Enrique relocated to the United States where he lived for 10 years immersed in music and other productive endeavors. It was there, in the year 1997, where he made a personal connection that would impact his life on all levels: Jesus Christ took control of his mind and heart and became a great light that would guide and orient Enrique in all aspects of his life.
At the end of 2000, he returned to the Dominican Republic where he became Creative Director for a prominent advertising agency and did important work for private companies as well as for candidates from different political parties, including the president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández.
Féliz is the author of “Soy Mejor,” a children’s book that has been published in English under the title “Being the Best I Can Be.”
His songs have been performed by Gilberto Santarosa, Olga Tañón, Johnny Ventura, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Tito Nieves, Sophy, Vickiana, Anthony Santos, Luis Vargas, Joe Veras, Yoskar Sarante, Felix D’Oleo, Los Hermanos Moreno, Kinito Méndez and Pochi Familia.
He has received numerous awards for his philanthropic endeavors as well as recognition from Columbia University, the Catholic University of Santo Domingo, The Society of Authors and Composers of the Dominican Republic and the Council of the City of New York.
In 2005, his song “Preso de su no sé qué” was a finalist in the “Que Viva el Merengue” Awards and in 2006 his song “La Pared” won a coveted statuette at the Casandra Awards for “Bachata of the Year.”
At present, Feliz preaches through song and words, nationally and internationally. He evangelizes at different churches and social and cultural institutions thanks to the universality of his message.
Married and the father of three children, Feliz is presently Executive Director of the Christian Ministry of Art and Communications.
AMARES is a bachata duet hailing from New York City formed by Puerto Rican male vocalist, Jose Vargas and Dominican female vocalists, Ninfa Molina. Both singers got their start in music by entertaining individual ventures, Ninfa having been selected in 2006 to participate in Latin American Idol in Argentina, eventually reaching the top 30 mark, and Jose having gone as far as becoming one of top 6 contestants in Objetivo Fama in 2004. Aside from that there was an appearance by Ninfa at Univision’s Al Despertar and several presentations by Jose at the Hostos Community College Theater of the Arts and other local venues. Nonetheless, both Ninfa and Jose, having previously met as part of the Hostos Community College Choir, always anticipated taking part in a mutual musical venture. Their chance came about with the birth of Amares.
In 2006, Eric Medina, songwriter and producer behind Amares, and himself a product of Hostos, was looking for a female counterpart to join him in producing a demo of Nada Es Tan Grande Como Nuestro Amor, a track currently in the works as part of what projects to be Amares’ upcoming debut album but then meant for Monchy y Alexandras’ upcoming album. A personal friend to Eric, suggested Ninfa and arranged an introduction. It was while working with Ninfa on this demo that Eric noted her voice would be perfect as part of a complete duet project, citing a market need for more bachata duets. Ninfa having stated she knew someone who could act as her counterpart, Jose came on board and after a couple of practice sessions and meetings the decision was made to form Amares.
Amares encompasses a bit of everything. Described primarily as a bachata act, the duet is a reflection of many different influences. But overall, Amares lends a touch of elegance and sophistication to the genre that stands out even as one is swayed to the dance floor by the contagious rhythms of its mambos. They are genuinely bold in their approach to romanticism and establish a perfect blend between formality and groove that accommodates every taste. The audience will find Amares refreshingly natural. There is an element of complexity yet simplicity that makes the duet a solid candidate, not just for stardom but also musical longevity. Packed with great voices and enduring songs, Amares is poised to make its mark in the latin music scene. Eric states, “A great musical work could never be unoriginal. At first, the inclination may be there to find its similarities with other works. But in the end, all you have left is acknowledging that it stands as its own entity” That is Amares; fresh, innovative, different, authentic, unmistakable.