Born Elmer Figueroa di Alce on June 28, 1968 (some sources say June 29, 1968), in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico; married to Marilisa Maronesse; children: Lorenzo Valentino, Isadora Sofia. Addresses: Record company--Sony Discos, 407 Lincoln Rd., Miami, FL 33139.

Known for his exceptional good looks as well as his musical talent, Latin pop vocalist Chayanne displays an unmistakable energy, exuding a universal appeal that transcends all cultures. His earthy, seductive style of singing, embellished with an unbridled masculine charm, has brought his recordings to international attention. He boasts record sales worldwide, from Latin America, Spain, and the Philippines to Israel, Russia, and Slovenia. Entertainment Weekly called this artist "a dazzling showman with roguish good looks [and] barrels of charisma." In 1998, after more than a decade of promises, he made an English-language singing debut on the soundtrack of the film romance Dance with Me.

Born Elmer Figueroa di Alce on June 28, 1968, Chayanne is a native of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. The middle child in a brood of five siblings, his musical charisma was evident even as a youngster. He turned professional at age ten when he joined Los Chicos, a Latin kiddy-pop ensemble that was particularly popular in the Caribbean and in Central America. Soon afterward he was offered--but declined--a position with another Latin bubblegum boy band called Menudo.

After cutting five albums with Los Chicos and touring extensively with that group, Chayanne found that he had outgrown the youth genre. By 1983 he had parted ways with the band and embarked on a solo career. Before long he had taken first prize in the Mexico City Televisa talent contest Juguemos a Cantar. He subsequently changed his name from the humdrum Elmer Di Alce, choosing instead to be called by the more romantic name of the American television western hero, Cheyenne Bodie, though the spelling he chose was slightly different from that of the television star.

In 1986 he released two solo albums, Es Mi Nombre ([Chayanne] Is My Name) and Sangre Latina (Latin Blood) on RCA/Ariola International, both of which were reissued by BMG Music in 1999. Also in 1986, he appeared as a regular on a telenovela, or soap opera, called Pobre Juventud.

Upon returning full time to his singing career in 1987, Chayanne signed with Sony and spent 1988 recording a self-titled debut for that label. This first Sony album brought him into the mainstream spotlight soon after its January 1, 1989, release. Two of the tracks on the album became hit singles: "Tu Pirata Soy Yo" and "Este Ritmo Se Baila Asi." A follow-up album, also titled Chayanne, appeared on December 28 of the same year. The December release brought Chayanne to international attention with the hit single, "Fiesta en America," which earned him a following of diehard fans, particularly in Spain. He won the Best International Video Award from MTV in 1989. In 1990 he received a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Performance, for the 1989 single, "Como Fui A Enamorarme De Ti," which sustained a four-week run at the top of Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart.

By 1993 Chayanne's career was on a solid track; he achieved high record sales, including dozens of platinum and gold albums in the Latin American market. That year he appeared in a feature article in People; the photographs of the singer in that magazine attracted the attention of the editors at Playgirl magazine. Although he turned down an offer to do a nude layout in that magazine, he did agree to an intimate--but much less revealing--photo shoot in Playgirl, further solidifying his reputation as a sexy singer.

His presence on the music charts was a commonplace event as he renewed his contract with Sony in 1994, committing to a long-term agreement. Also that year, he picked up a part on a Mexican telenovela, appearing as the star of Raul Alberto's Volver A Empezar (Begin Again). In this quasi-reality series, Chayanne was cast as himself, opposite vocalist Yuri, similarly playing herself, in the female lead. The soap opera was picked up in the United States on the Spanish-language Univision network.

Chayanne, who made his film debut in Los Chicos En Conexion Caribe (The Boys in Caribbean Connection) in the early 1980s, took a lengthy hiatus from cinema before appearing in a second Spanish feature film, Linda Sara (Pretty Sara), in December 1994. Overall his film career lacked luster until 1998, when he appeared in the English-language feature film, Dance with Me, co-starring Vanessa Williams. For this effort he earned two American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) award nominations--including a nomination for outstanding actor in a feature film and a second nomination for outstanding performance of a song for a feature film, for the duet "You Are My Home," with Williams.

Following the release of another album, Atado a Tu Amor, in 1998 he went on a U.S. tour amid ongoing speculation that he might release a full-length English-language album for his growing base of American fans, but the recording failed to materialize. In 2000 he paired up with fellow Sony recording artist Jennifer Lopez for a duet called "Dame" (Touch Me). The song was included as a bonus track in a follow-up release of his Grammy Award-nominated hit album of 2000, Simplemente (Simple). The track was also featured on Lopez's January of 2001 album, J. Lo, which topped charts in both its original and rerelease formats.

Although sex appeal sells in any language, critics and fans continued to hope for an English-language debut from the singer following the success of Simplemente, but Chayanne foiled their hopes. He accepted instead another acting role, on a Spanish-language soap opera called Provócame (Provoke Me), which was distributed to more than two dozen geographical markets worldwide. With his popularity steadily increasing, Chayanne was seen also in the repeating role of Sam Adams, a Latin dance instructor, on the hit show Ally McBeal, in January and February of 2001. Also in February of 2001, he was the recipient of the Jovenes con Legado (Youthful Legacy) award at the Premio Lo Nuestro awards ceremony, sponsored by media giant Univision.

Chayanne released an award-winning greatest hits package, called Grandes Exitos, in 2002. This first-ever compilation of solo hits by the singer spent 45 weeks on Billboard's Top Latin Album chart, including two weeks at number one. Peppered among his established hit songs were three all-new tracks, including a Franco de Vita song called "Y Tu Te Vas," which topped Billboard's Latin Pop Airplay chart for 18 weeks. The song also spent seven weeks at number one during a 39-week run on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart. Also new on the album were Donator's "Quisiera Ser" and Estéfano's "Torero," which was released as a single in Spain. In a Billboard review, Michael Paoletta cited Chayanne as "a well-rounded artist with a distinct personality and style."

Chayanne is married to Marilisa Maronesse. He is the father of two children and alternates between residences in Miami and Puerto Rico. In 2002 he launched a concert tour, his first in three years. Beginning with a Chilean kickoff, he toured in a score of countries, including Spain and a number of Asian venues.

by G. Cooksey

Chayanne's Career

Performed and recorded with Los Chicos, 1978-83; solo career, 1984-; signed with Sony Records, 1987; Puerto Rican television (soap opera) work, beginning early 1980s; motion picture work, beginning early 1980s; English-language film debut, Dance with Me, 1998; 14-city U.S. tour, 1999; released a greatest hits compilation, 2002.

Chayanne's Awards

MTV Music Video Award, Best International Video, 1989; Crystal Globe, Sony Records, 1994; Univision, Premio Lo Nuestro (Our Awards), Youthful Legacy Award, 2001; Billboard Latin Music Awards, Hot Latin Track, Latin Pop Airplay Track (male), and Greatest Hits Album of the Year, 2002.

Famous Works

Recent Updates

March 29, 2005: Chayanne's album, Desde Siempre, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_1/index.jsp, April 1, 2005.

Further Reading

Sources

PeriodicalsOnline

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

about 9 years ago

Sunday, 19 April, 2008 This is the first well-articulated and straightforward biography of the singer I have read. Most others dwell on his brooding good looks, which, while admittedly too obvious to overlook, are not what gives his voice the clear tones and power, the musical integrity and showmanship for which he is known. I have only one suggestion: a more revent updat. Thank you, for sheding a more professional light on a man whose voice is, and will remain, one of the most stunning and original of his time.