Bachata Roja


Bachata Roja is a series that collects together the greatest hits of classic Dominican bachata. From the early 1960’s to the late 1980’s the legendary voices of Eladio Romero Santos, Leonardo Paniagua and Blas Duran spoke to the hearts of a generation. The dizzying guitar accompaniment of pioneers like Edilio Paredes and Augusto Santos charted the course of bachata’s rise, and for three decades theirs was the sound of the streets of Santo Domingo.

Initially the term "bachata" referred to an informal backyard party with food, drink, music and dance. In rural areas of the Dominican Republic in the 1950’s and earlier, the music played at these events was more often than not guitar-based and included a variety of popular styles such as Cuban bolero, guaracha and son, Puerto Rican jíbaro music and Mexican ranchera. Drawing on all these influences, a bold new guitar style emerged in the heart of Santo Domingo’s burgeoning urban shanty towns. Much despised by elite society - who controlled the island’s television, radio and major recording studios – the new music was dubbed disparagingly “bachata,” an allusion to perceived rural backwardness.

Though boycotted by major media outlets, a grass-roots movement coalesced around favorite singers of the time – who expressed in unvarnished terms the pain, sorrow, humor and romance of daily life. Arising from the urban bordellos and the campos, bachata music grew to become wildly popular across all strata of society. Throughout this period, the defining sound of bachata was that of the Spanish acoustic guitar, whose florid phrasing seduced dancers, chastised faithless lovers and softly serenaded coy mistresses of the night.

Today bachata has become part of the troika of popular tropical Latin music: salsa, merengue and bachata. Yet, many of bachata's newer fans are not aware of its humble beginnings, and most have not had an opportunity to hear what real bachata sounded like before it was "dressed up" to enter the mainstream. Bachata Roja pays homage to some of early bachata's most exceptional and versatile musicians. It gives devoted fans a chance to discover, or re-discover, the richness of bachata's roots.


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