Marc, Anthony (Contemporary Musicians)
Marc Anthony is a vocalist whose contemporary version of salsa has been embraced internationally by Latino audiences and criticized as controversial by old school music critics. Not even thirty years old, Anthony has reached more lofty goals than many accomplish in the course of their entire careers. " I was born to be a singer, it has never been a question for me," he told The Globe. In addition to his many recording credits, Anthony has appeared in several films.
Marc Anthony attributes much of his own unique style to a diverse musical upbringing. He was born in 1969, Antonio Marco Muniz, to Puerto Rican guitarist Felipe Muniz and his wife. Raised in the tough neighborhood of East Harlem, New York Anthony was exposed to two competing musical worlds; the street sounds heard on the sidewalks of his neighborhood and the authentic Puerto Rican jibaro music generating from his father's Friday Night Jam Sessions. Jibaro music is the prominent music of Puerto Rico defined by the "le lo lai" of the vocalist. As he elaborated in the February 1996 issue of GTTV, "I would walk down third avenue and out of one window I could hear Ruben Blades' music, while Gloria Gaynor came blasting out another and Doobie Brothers sounds from the window of a passing car's stereo. But to be honest with you, I never liked salsa because It didn't cater to the younger generation. And I couldn't relate to it. I thought it was uncool." Like many rebellious youngsters Anthony did not appreciate his parents' tastes until much later in his life. However, at a very young age Anthony was taught music and composition by his father probably influencing his decision to pursue a career in music. While his childhood home was suffused with the background soundtrack of Ruben Blades, Hector Lavoe, and Willie Colon, Anthony credits his most relevant musical influences growing up as Air Supply and Puerto Rican superstar Jose Feliciano.
"M-I-C-K-E-Y" launches vocalist's career
At age 12, Marc and his sister were discovered by commercial producer David Harris, in the midst of belting out the Mickey Mouse theme. They were used almost exclusively by Harris for quite some time, providing background vocals for his productions and commercials. Ever since that fortunate break, Anthony's career has been on the upswing.
While still in school, Anthony began writing songs. One of his compositions "Boy I've Been Told" caught the ear of his good friend and singer Sa-Fire. Anthony ended up recording background vocals for the dance siren's entire album, as well as writing "You Said You Love Me" and "I Better be the Only One." The single "Boy I've Been Told" went on to became a top-40 hit. During his teens, Anthony also worked with groups such as the Latin Rascals as well as Menudo.
With his interests moving toward club hip-hop and dance music, Anthony was fortunate enough to team up with DJ and producer Little Louie Vega who is described by Rebecca Mann of the Latin Times Magazine as "the nicest most talented star maker in New York." Though Vega and Anthony had been acquainted though the New York Club scene for years, it wasn't until a low-budget movie East Side Story that their professional paths finally crossed. Vega had written the score for the film in which Anthony sang and had the main role. Louie impressed and delighted by Anthony's abilities, asked if he would consider forming a partnership. Anthony agreed and the result was his first album When the Night is Over (Atlantic Records) produced by Vega and including appearances by India and the legendary Tito Puente. A showy single from the record, "Ride on the Rhythm" reached number one on the Billboard dance chart.
Star-Slated Salsa Sensation
Ambitious and driven, Marc Anthony created a series of far-fetched goals for himself. Before the age of 35, he wanted to sing at Madison Square Garden, perform at Carnegie Hall, and to have a number one record. With the fiery success of the dance smash "Ride on the Rhythm," Anthony managed to achieve one his coveted goals before even reaching legal drinking age. At this point In his career he was a champion of the urban dance music known as "freestyle" which basically is an ethnic combination of hip-hop and disco. Even though he was inherently proud of his heritage, the musician was not yet associated with the salsa music for which he became celebrated. At age 19, Anthony achieved the second of his desired goals when he participated at a Carnegie Hall concert with vocalist Danny Rivera. The third and most notable of success was accompushed on November 22, 1991 when he opened the tribute to jazz legend Tito Puente at Madison Square Garden on the occasion of his 100th album.
Searching for a New Goal
Upon achieving his aspirations, Anthony, still Incredibly young and feeling invincible, began searching for a new path. The next road for the musician was paved by his friend and manager David Maldonado and Ralph Mercado (the president of Soho Latino/RMM records). The pair offered him and other artists such as India, who shared a similar musical background, the opportunity to cross over, to record a salsa record for the Soho Latino label. Anthony considered the record offer, thought it an interesting opportunity, and agreed. The successful vocalist was also interested in the opportunity to work with RMM main producer Sergio George. George and Anthony both were fans of each other's work. At the time, Anthony was being mentally revisited by the sounds of his parents' homeland and finally he was inspired by the music he had rejected as a child. He was elated when the legendary Tito Puente jum ped on-stage with him at a Ne York Palladium performance, and through personal contacts he was happy to be able to land a gig as a "water boy" for legendary Ruben Blades. In this very glamourless position Anthony would run to obediently greet Blades with water should the star's thirst present a need. In an ironic twist of fate through the course of his career, his relationship with Blades has developed from idol-worship, to being a colleague, and finally culminating in a friendship.
The highly praised first salsa album by Marc Anthony was entitled Otra Nota. The record, sung entirely in Spanish, contains compelling versions of songs by musicians Jan Gabriel and Ian Chester. One original song on the album that received much attention, "El Ultimo Beso, " was written by none other than Anthony's father. In a 1996 concert series at the Luis A. Ferre Performing Arts center in San Juan Marc, Anthony had the honor of performing this song with his dad. He told The San Juan Stars July 1996, "It's special anytime you can give something back. For me it's a very special concert, for him it's a great big moment in his life. I know what it means to him and it means so much to me to be able to make his dream come true". The album was a breakthrough success from the start. In January 1993, just 5 months after its release, Otra Nota went gold. The album eventually claimed double platinum status.
Otra Nota was a sales success and managed to gather a host of good reviews. In Billboard magazine Otra Nota was described as "a smashing salsa premiere and showcasing his (Anthony's) emotive bari-setto searing over George's customary fine arrangements." The album was met with a lot of controversy regarding its authenticity as real salsa, generally from people at odds with the younger generation's Interpretation.
Rejected Old School Dress Code
"My critics say my take on salsa is heresy, but I say I just do salsa the way I would sing it." Anthony claims that while he was initially attracted to the music, he couldn't relate to the old school open shirts, gold chains and ultra flashy style. Rejecting the social requirement of dressing flashy to perform salsa, Anthony instead often dons a pair of jeans, T-shirt and a baseball cap on stage. "When I recorded my first album I didn't know anything about technique. People sent me cassettes of traditionalists and said, 'Here learn this, you're doing it all wrong.' I said, 'No way. Let me contribute something new.' I just closed my eyes and did it the way I heard it from my experience and thank G-d I did it the way I heard because now looking back I can say I have a style of music that is mine"
Translating His Songs
In June of 1995, Anthony released the super smash Todo a su Tiempo. The album gained platinum status literally overnight in an twenty-four hour sweep. The title translated Into English means all "in due time." Anthony found It an appropriate name due to the album's two year, very detailed and demanding process of completion. "The record has that title," Anthony explained to the El Daily News, "because I think artists cannot do things in a hurry" Since Its release, the recording has gone quadruple platinum and has brought not only international acclaim but has also substantiated Marc Anthony as a force to be reckoned with within the music industry. The album was arranged and co-produced by Anthony and contains compositions by Omar Alsano, Rudy Perez, Victor Victor and Manny de Gado. In addition to its success, Todo a su Tiempo managed to place Anthony side by side with idols Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, and Cella Cruz as a 1996 Grammy nominee In the tropical album of the year category.
Marc Anthony's career has demanded many live appearances. In 1995 the Salsa sensation hit the concert trail with vigor, spending an exhausting 50 out of 52 weeks on the road. His relationship with his fans and his pride In his heritage are of great importance to him personally and appear significantly in his music as well. On stage Anthony is described by Elizabeth Roman of GTTVas "shining like no other, as he displays an aggressive energetic passion that almost always brings the audiences to their feet." During his performances, he always pays a tribute to the Puerto Rican Flag. He brings out the flag not in the essence of the performance butto express pride in his heritage. Anthony often sells out concerts, playing multiple nights at a single venue, and was described by Christina Veran of Newsday as having a similar stage strut to the provocative Rolling Stone singer Mick Jagger.
Marc Anthony's prolific charms, besides developing a gigantic fan base, have attracted additional attention by Hollywood big-wigs. He has starred In three major motion plcturesto date. Inthefilm Hackers, released in 1995 by MGM Entertainment, he portrays ayoung secret service agent. In The Substitute, Anthony is a gang leader who controls a high school and In The Big Night he appeared opposite legendary actress and model Isabella Rossellini. Though Anthony enjoys the challenges of acting, he reportedly has no intentions of giving up his musical endeavors. As he explained to the San Juan Star, "The day movie making satisfies me as much as music is the day I will be able to decide between the two."
Making Time for Things That Count
Anthony's career still maintains an accelerated pace. With prospective movie deals and musical opportunities, the singer has had many demands placed on his time. In 1997, Anthony sought to change that burden to accommodate what he described in Latina magazine as "the current love of his life," his infant daughter Arianna. Anthony insists his next album will follow the same lengthy recording process as Todo a su Tiempo, with a possible two-year wait. In the meantime, after turning down many opportunities, he chose to accept a role In the much-anticipated Broadway play Capetown so he could stay close to Arianna in New York City. In the play, expected to open in summer 1997 on Broadway, Anthony will star along with his longtime hero and colleague Ruben Blades. Both men play the convicted-murdererturned-lauded-writer, Salvador Algron. The music is composed by Paul Simon.
Anthony is fortunate and humble. He explained his gratitude to GTTV. "The truth is I'm doing what I was born to do. God gave me this gift and the tools to do this and even if it's just to instill Puerto Rican pride In others, I am doing what I was born to do. What keeps me going is knowing my daughter will have all the options I never had"
Todo A Su Tiempo, Soho Latino/RMM Records, 1995.
Otra Nota, Soho Latino/RMM Records, 1992.
When the Night is Over, Atlantic Records, 1991.
CashBox, July 1 1995, p. 16.
Billboard, February 13, 1993, p.92.
El Daily News, June 8, 1995, p.23, June 22, 1995.
Guia de Television & Entretenimiento, February 1996, p. 18.
Latin Beat, August 1995, p.33.
Latina Magazine, Premiere issue, summer 1996, P. 12.
Newsday, July 20. 1995.
The Daily News, Viva Suppliment, March 1997 p.18.
The Globe, date unknown, Page D17.
The San Juan Star, July 18, 1996, P.41.
Urban, The Latino Magazine, Summer Issue.
Anthony, Marc (Contemporary Musicians)
Though he began riding a wave of popularity among Latin recording artists in the United States in the late 1990s, Marc Anthony has been a mainstay in the salsa genre for years. By blending in pop and spicing up his songs with a healthy dose of romance, he had been a star in Spanish-speaking areas long before the release of his English-language salsa album, Marc Anthony, hit the shelves in 1999. His slightly smoky tenor is lush and expressive, and he has been known to start crying on stage during love songs. Women swoon and throw undergarments on stage during his concerts, and his balladeering style has earned him comparisons to Frank Sinatra. In 1998, before Ricky Martin had burst on the scene, Anthony took home the Grammy Award for best tropical Latin performance, for his 1997 album Contra la Corriente. A second Grammy win came in 2000 for Song of the Year for "Dimelo (I Need to Know)" from Marc Anthony at the first annual Latin Grammy Awards. The singer has started drawing raves for his acting talents as well, most notably with a turn as a deranged transient man in 1999's Bringing Out the Dead.
Anthony was born Marco Antonio Muniz on September 16, 1969, in New York City. He was raised in Spanish Harlem, the youngest of five boys and three girls. His father, Felipe, worked in a hospital lunchroom, and Guillermina ("Jenny"), was a homemaker. They are now divorced. Anthony was exposed to jibaro music and salsa beginning at a tender age. His father had moved from Puerto Rico in the 1950s and played guitar; he also enjoyed listening to Ruben Blades, Hector Lavoe, and Willie Colon. Anthony would climb up on the kitchen table and sing along during his dad's jam sessions. By the time he was three, he was able to draw tears from female family members with his soulful renditions.
When Anthony was six or seven, he sang "El Zolsar" at a social club where his father was playing, and a man gave his mother a dollar, telling her that her child would make it big someday. It was the first money Anthony ever earned for his talent. However, like many children, Anthony considered his parents' music and the Latin image uncool. "I couldn't relate to the suits, the chains and the pinky rings, so it didn't interest me," he remarked to Cristina Veran in Newsday. Instead, he started getting into rock and roll, rap, and dance music. "I was raised in New York during the Seventies and Eighties," he mentioned to Clark Collis in the Daily Telegraph. "So I was exposed to everything. Jimi Hendrix. Motown. Disco. Salsa. You name it." He has also claimed the light-as-their-name pop group Air Supply as an influence.
At age 12, Anthony and his sister began singing background vocals for commercials, including one for Bumble Bee tuna. At 15, he was a water boy for one of his idols, Ruben Blades. "I used to pray for him to be thirsty, just to be onstage," Anthony reminisced to Collis in the Daily Telegraph. By high school, Anthony was writing music, which caught the attention of the dance-pop singer Sa-Fire. He ended up penning two songs, "You Said You Love Me" and "I Better Be the Only One," for her album, as well as singing backup. Another single he wrote, "Boy I've Been Told," became a Top 40 hit. He went on to sing background for The Latin Rascals, who worked with Little Louis Vega. In the meantime, Anthony was also writing songs in both English and Spanish for Menudo, as well as serving as a backup singer and vocal coach for them.
In the early 1990s, Vega became a producer for Atlantic Records and asked Anthony to sing for him. He recorded a dance album in English, When the Night Is Over, and had a number one Billboard dance hit with "Ride on the Rhythm," but failed to make waves beyond that. Though he was performing house music at clubs in New York City, he found it encouraging if audiences numbered even in the triple digits. Then he and Vega opened for Tito Puente at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Anthony's manager subsequently prodded him to begin recording salsa music, but he resisted. Not long after that, though, he was listening to the radio and heard the Juan Gabriel ballad, "Hasta Que Te Conoci" ("Until I Met You"). Inspired, he came up with an upbeat salsa version of the tune, and it became his ticket to stardom.
In 1993, Anthony released his first salsa album, Otra Nota, on Soho Latino/RMM Records. Soon, his manager sent him to perform at Radio y Musica, a Latin-music convention in Los Angeles. Most of the attendees were disc jockeys. Highly intimidated and wearing borrowed clothes because his financial situation was tight, he sang a song backed only by instrumentals from a DAT player. He recalled to Alec Wilkinson in the New Yorker, "I'm trembling up a storm.... I walk up to the mike and think, 'Make believe you're in your living room singing to your mom.'" Afterward, he darted off the stage so fast that until his manager grabbed him, he did not notice he was getting a standing ovation. He told Wilkinson that he then heard disc jockeys making calls, saying, "Find this kid's CD. I threw it out this morningt's in the trash. Find it and play it."
Later that same day, Anthony was booked on a Spanish-language television program called Carnaval Internacional, which is broadcast internationally. "That changed my life forever," he stated to Wilkinson, adding, "It seemed like years before I was ever in New York again." He began to tour constantly, playing Puerto Rico, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, even Tokyo. Some traditionalists disliked his romantic take on salsa and dismissed it an inauthentic, but many critics delivered accolades. He also won support from fellow musicians like Blades and Placido Domingo, who began to call and ask about doing projects together.
In 1995, Anthony followed up with Todo a Su Tiempo ("All in Due Time"). Touring to promote the work, he spent 50 weeks on the road. Though his energy level on stage is cranked up as he struts through his dance moves, unlike salsa stars of old, Anthony projects a more down-to-earth appearance, favoring simple apparel in lieu of the "hot Latin lover" image with sleek suits and slick hair. "It is an appeal that is real, accessible and trustworthy," observed Veran in Newsday. Anthony in 1996 was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1996 for Todo a Su Tiempo, sharing the category with three of his idolslades, Colon, and Celia Cruz.
As his music career was reaching new heights, Anthony was gearing up an acting career as well. He made his debut in 1995's Hackers, playing a Secret Service agent in a thriller about cybersleuths trying to foil an evil genius planning to unleash a crippling computer virus. The next year, he was cast as a waiter in Big Night, starring Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini, and Stanley Tucci, about a family trying to save their Italian restaurant. He also had a minor role as a high school gang member in The Substitute that same year.
Anthony's next album, Contra la Corriente ("Against the Current") came out in fall of 1997. But he did not have the opportunity to embark on a promotional tour, because he had been cast in Paul Simon's Capeman, which opened on Broadway in early 1998. This turned out to be a boon, though, when Anthony's new manager, Bigram Zayaslso his half-brother and best frienduggested he play an "Off to Broadway" mega-concert at Madison Square Garden. Though no salsa solo act had ever headlined there, Anthony sold out two concerts at the venue. He then took the stage in Capeman, a musical about a murder case. In it, he played teenager Salvador Algron, a Puerto Rican who killed two other teens in a New York park in 1959 after a gang misunderstanding. Blades, incidentally, portrayed the killer as an older man. Although Capeman was praised for its song sequences and Anthony was applauded for his vocal talents, the play closed after two months.
By this time, Anthony was so famous that an architect refused payment for his work in building a home in Puerto Rico for the singer, claiming that working for him was payment enough, as Wilkinson reported in the New Yorker. In fact, he is something of a saint in Puerto Rico for committing to build 100 homes for families displaced by Hurricane Georges. In addition, he sold out a 60,000-seat stadium in Colombia, and is popular throughout Europe, Japan, and Central America as well. He became so well-known in Spanish-speaking areas that he needs escorts to accompany him, and he became the only salsa singer with a gold album in America.
However, Anthony did not get major crossover exposure until fellow Latin crooner Ricky Martin hit the scene and reached number one on the pop charts with his first all-English release. In addition, Jennifer Lopezith whom he recorded the radio hit "No Me Ames"as beginning to attract attention as well. Around that time, amid disputes with music mogul Ralph Mercadoith whom he had signed a contract in 1992nthony managed to cut his own English album as well, the first since his 1991 dance effort. He signed a deal with Columbia Records estimated to be worth more than $30 million, and in 1999 released Marc Anthony. Featuring Latin-tinged pop tunes, it spawned the top ten hit "I Need to Know." But he bristled at the term "crossover," explaining to Chris Willman in Entertainment Weekly, "I started out singing in English, so what am I crossing over to? That makes it sound like I'm trying my hand at someone else's music. But I'm just as American as I am Puerto Rican. This is my music as much as anybody else's."
Also in 1999, Anthony was seen in his biggest film role to date, playing the erratic homeless man Noel in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead. Though the film stars Nicolas Cage as a troubled New York City ambulance driver, Noel is the centerpiece of the tale. Disheveled and dreadlocked, the character of Noel provides "sort of the backbone of the morality of the story," according to Scorsese in a People article. "Ultimately the whole film comes together around him." Critics were receptive to his wild and violent performance, which countered his usual persona of the sensitive, sensual singer.
Though Anthony had been linked with various starletsncluding Lopez and actress Mira Sorvinoe announced his engagement to Dayanara Torres, a former Miss Universe, in October of 1999. The couple married in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 9, 2000. From a previous relationship with police officer Debbie Rosado, which ended in 1995, he has a daughter, Arianna. Anthony and Torres had a son, Cristian Anthony Muiz, on February 5, 2001. Anthony, who favors wearing Prada designs, is about five feet, eight inches tall, with a slender build, black hair, jutting cheekbones, and a strong jaw. He told Mim Udovitch in Rolling Stone that he is the tallest in his family, and revealed, "My father is five feet two and weighs, like, 100 pounds wet."
Although People en Espanol magazine once named Anthony one of the most beautiful people alive, he was not always such a looker. As he mentioned to Dennis Hensley in Cosmopolitan, "I was ugly and skinny growing up, and one time my dad said, 'You look like me, so you better work on your personality.'" His fame and accolades apparently have not affected his ego. As he told Udovitch, "I don't need other people to validate me. I'm pretty hard on myself, so if I feel good, then I know there's something to feel good about."
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Contra la Corriente, RMM, 1997.
(Contributor) Mask of Zorro (soundtrack), Sony, 1998.
Desde un Principio, Sony, 1999.
Marc Anthony, Columbia, 1999.
(Contributor) Runaway Bride (soundtrack), Sony, 1999.
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