Step by step Chayanne has built a remarkable artistic career for himself. His musical talent has developed with unusual solidity among artists who, like himself, started their path into music during childhood. Each one of his records has represented a step towards the top, perfectly constructed, perfectly modeled to procure him the experience and the assurance which, in this his seventh album for Sony Music International, surges forth in surprising fashion, revealing the artist behind that open and contagious smile which seems to announce honesty, sincerity and nobility.
Born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, after two brothers were born in New York during the time his parents resided there, Elmer Figueroa turned into Chayanne while still a child, thanks to a television series of the 60s called “Cheyenne”, a favorite of his mother to the extent that she ended giving the boy that nickname. Two more siblings would be born after him and, shortly after that the family settled in San Lorenzo, a town of some 30.000 people in the southwest part of the island, called El Pueblo de los Samaritanos (The Town of Samaritans) or La Tierra de las Leyendas (The Land of Legends)
The first years of his infancy were spent there together with his three brothers and a sister, his mother, a schoolteacher, and his father, who was a sales manager for a local company. Chayanne remembers his first years as something quite extraordinary; “the seven first years of my life were the only ones in which I did not work”. Family, school, music and sports filled his childhood life. His first contacts with music came through his siblings; his sister played guitar and one of his brothers played accordion at the church choir. Chayanne joined them as soon as he was able, and would accompany them with a tambourine during rehearsals or the events celebrated at the church. Shortly after, he joined the choir voices in his own right: “at the same time I played chaperone for my sister, accompanying her to church and to the events where we were to sing”.
And it was in great measure due to his sister Clara that Chayanne found himself suddenly into professional music at the tender age of 10. “I accompanied my sister to an audition for a youth group being formed in Puerto Rico, and when the organizers saw me they told me: what about you? Don’t you want to be here yourself? I said ‘fine’ and, before I knew it, I was part of a group called Los Chicos (The Kids) , which became very popular in Puerto Rico, in all of the Caribbean and in Central America”.
His experience with Los Chicos helped Chayanne to familiarize himself with stage work and to perform in the ambiance that surrounds popular music and its artists. Working non stop, moving from one city to another without rest, invariably in touch with a young and ever changing population of the country, city or people they performed for. “We wanted to be like the Beatles. We worked to harmonize our voices and we always had fun, because we were kids; and everything was so new for us that every day we would discover something different. We had tutors who traveled with us so as to ensure that we would not neglect our education. But what we really learned was to live and reach the public in a natural way”.
In 1983, after five years, Los Chicos decided to dissolve and let its participants follow their respective paths. In Chayanne’s case, he was conscious of his youth and artistic faculties. Hence when he had to confront what he refers to as “my dark years”, the question for him was never what to do, but how to do it: “I knew that my life, my future and my profession were in music, on the stage. That these things were something already affixed in my consciousness in such a way that I never, for one moment, thought of doing anything else. Due to this, if I had to abandon my career today I would not know what to do, what to dedicate myself to. This is my life, this is what I feel, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else”.
The dark years cleared up gradually with a few interventions in some TV soap operas and movies, in Puerto Rico and, of course, with music, which continued to be the main objective in his career. It was at this time when the Chayanne we know started to move into song and dance and to shape a style, which gradually became defined, personal and recognizable.
His first two albums represented the first indication of the talent and virtues that became more and more evident in each of his subsequent recordings. In 1989, his first record for Sony Music International, which contained the song “Fiesta in América” (A Party in America), initiated his conquest of the American continent, well established after his second album, thanks to hits such as “Fuiste un Trozo de Hielo en la Escarcha” (You Were A Chunk of Ice in the Frost), “Tu Pirata Soy Yo” (I Am Your Pirate), and “Este Ritmo se Baila Así” (This Rhythm is Danced Like This). The following album, which included “Tiempo de Vals” (A Time for Waltz), “Totalmente Enamorado” (Totally in Love), and “No Pensar en Tí” (Not to Think of You), sold over a million copies and established Chayanne as one of the most important young artists in the Americas and possibly the only one capable of staging shows where music and dance fuse, in spontaneous fashion, at execution levels way above the norm.
“Provócame” (Provoke Me) and “Influencias” (Influences) continued Chayanne’s ascending career and widened his international appeal; the first album, with the song that serves as its title, brought the Chayanne name to all remote places in South America, especially Argentina and Chile. The second represented the particular homage paid by the artist both to the authors and songs who had most influenced his life.
With “Volver a Nacer ” (To Be Born Again), Chayanne reached the pinnacle of his career. The songs the album contained conquered, one after another, the first places on the hit charts: “Sólo Traigo Mi Ritmo” (I Only Bring My Rhythm), “Volver a Nacer” (To Be Born Again), “Tal Vez Es Amor” (Maybe It’s Love), “Baila, Baila” (Dance, Dance), “Solamente Tu Amor” (Only Your Love), and “Guajira” (Country Girl).
Up to this point in his career, Chayanne has sold more than 4.5 million records worldwide. His sales have reached more than 20 platinum albums and nearly 50 gold ones. Among his achievements, it is worth noting that he was the first Latin artist who appeared in an American television commercial speaking in Spanish (no subtitles) during the retransmission of the Grammy Awards in 1989. His performance at the Viña del Mar Festival of Song is still remembered as one of the greatest presentations in the history of the event.
In 1993, he was selected among the 50 most beautiful people in the world, and the following year he appeared on the cover of Playgirl Magazine, fully dressed though.
His appearances in both the small and the big screens have invariably caused a sensation, especially amongst the feminine public. His movie debut took place in Puerto Rico in the film “Linda Sara”, directed by Jacobo Morales.