In many ways, Geoffrey Royce Rojas is like millions of other young Latino Americans. He was raised by Dominican parents who came to New York looking for the American dream and struggled to keep their four children out of trouble in a South Bronx neighborhood rife with gangs and drugs.
Rojas, 24, grew up listening to techno and hip-hop, the Beatles and Jay-Z — and to the sweet, bouncy lilt of Dominican bachata at home and on summer visits to the Dominican Republic. He is matter-of-fact about balancing between two cultures.
“I can’t tell you if I’m Latino or if I’m American,” he says. “I’m both. I speak Spanish just as much as I speak English and I write English just as much as I write Spanish.”
He sings in both, too. Rojas, known to millions as Prince Royce, is the hottest new act in Latin music. He’s a teen girl’s dream of a baby-brown-eyed heartthrob whose sweet and soulful renditions of pop- and R&B-flavored bachata have proved irresistible to young Latinos who share his bicultural identity. In 2010, Royce’s Spanglish, bachata-beat cover of the Ben E. King standard Stand By Me became a surprise hit, turning the singer-songwriter into the first major new star in years in the calcified U.S. Latin pop scene.
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