Bachata: From Barrios to World Broadcast

The Dominican folk music was looked down upon by upper-class society for years—before it became a hit around the world.

This month’s feature on bachata provides a history on how the genre found its way to respect from the public—but it wasn’t an easy path, and the music endured decades of stigma before being recognized for its unique style and message.

By the mid-1990s, Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra had helped bring bachata to a global stage with his release of Bachata Rosa in 1990. 20 years later, Guerra won a Latin GRAMMY for his release A Son de Guerra, which featured the hit single “Bachata en Fukuoka.” A testament to bachata’s popularity, the song’s inspiration was based on an experience Guerra had while performing in Japan. Charmed by the locals’ knowledge of the Spanish dances of bachata, merengue, and mambo, Guerra penned the hit in tribute to the people of Fukuoka.