On April 16, Chavi Leons, a 20-year-old ascending prodigy in the bachata genre, will have his first show in New York City.
While his career has taken off ever since his 2019 “Madrugada” single impressed both idol Romeo Santos and the Top 100 Latin charts, the Mott Haven native couldn’t hide his excitement about performing in front his family, friends and fellow New Yorkers at SoHo’s S.O.B.s.
“I grew up listening to a bunch of Hispanic sounds from sala, merengue, and so on … but bachata is where I found out my passion and love for music, rhythm, movement,” Leons told the Bronx Times. “And to be able to share that on Saturday at my first New York City show means a lot to me.”
“Madrugada” placed Leons on No. 37 in the Top 100 Latin Songs within iTunes which has brought him to wide recognition and respect from his peers in the genre and earned him the nickname “El Relevo de la Bachata” Bachata’s Relay in Spanish.
Now he’s coming off the success of a newly released single “Perfume,” which he said is a musical homage to the 1990s bachata sounds he grew up listening to as kid in the South Bronx. Bachata’s roots originate from the sounds of the Dominican Republic, but the appeal of superstars Romeo Santos and Prince Royce has led to its popularity in the Bronx — home to the nation’s largest Dominican population.
“Bachata is a genre filled with emotions from the melodies, instrumentals and lyrics, and because it’s art, there’s a diversity of expressions in bachata,” Leons said. “The best part is you can dance to it, you can take a drink and nod you head to it, and your body simply moves to the rhythm of it.”
Leons doesn’t flinch from the pressure to lead the next wave of bachata artists into the mainstream. Life in the South Bronx shaped Leons to have “thick skin” as he spent his childhood surrounded by violence, poverty and uncertainty, noting that his guitar allowed him peace in times of hardship.
As his career comes full circle on Saturday, Leons hopes anyone who listens to his rhythms and melodies can see his story as a symbol that success can reside from anywhere in the Bronx.
“One day I woke up to Romeo Santos sharing one of my songs, and getting all this support and it was something amazing,” Leons said. “I hope that all blessings I’ve received can be an inspiration that you can come from anywhere and find that passion and success.”
Doors for Leon’s show at S.O.B., located at 204 Varrick St., opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes