There isn’t a language barrier when it comes to the music of Prince Royce.
The Latin music superstar rocked the crowd at Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival last summer — even though he sang his set in Spanish.
“It was such a big experience seeing so many genres [of music] and ethnicities getting together as one,” Royce says. “I was singing in Spanish and the people were dancing, it was really nice.”
Royce is a star in Latin America, but he's certainly made in America. He was born in the States to Dominican parents and raised in the Bronx. His 2010 self-titled debut was a No. 1 smash on the Latin charts and his singles routinely rack up more than 30 million views on YouTube.
“There are so many kids like me growing up and raised Latin who were born in the United States, from mixed cultures,” Royce says. “I try to project that in my songs and my performances.”
It's fitting that Royce is set to headline the El Zol Fest on Saturday at Festival Pier at Penn's Landing. El Zol, located at 1340 AM, strives to appeal to listeners who speak both Spanish and English.
The foundation of Royce’s sound is bachata, a guitar-based music that originated in the countryside barrios of the Dominican Republic and has gone on to rival salsa and merengue music in much of Latin America. In the U.S., the music is still only regionally popular, but groups like Aventura have secured such a standing that they performed at the White House for President Obama in 2009.
Royce is making his music more mainstream by adding R&B accents and singing some songs in English, as he did with his bachata version of Ben E. King's classic "Stand By Me." He also has a pan-American appeal as he brings in diverse Latin influences, including Mexican ranchera, into his songs.
“I try to reach everybody in Latin culture,” Royce says. “I try to add different sounds to cater to everybody and give everybody something to try to explore.”
He's diving all the way in to the English-speaking market in the next year or so with an English-language album from RCA.
“It's definitely a challenge for me, it's a whole new ballgame,” Royce says. “Myself, I grew up listening to R&B so we'll have pop, a little Spanish and a little bit of Latin rhythms, but most of it will be in English with a Latin flavor."
If you go
El Zol Fest with Prince Royce and Alex Matos
May 25, 7 p.m.
Festival Pier at Penn's Landing
Columbus Blvd. and Spring Garden St.