In 2000, following the release of his Grammy Award-nominated album "Simplemente" (Sony), Chayanne seemed primed for a crossover. He was known to mainstream America, thanks to a starring role in the fi

In 2000, following the release of his Grammy Award-nominated album "Simplemente" (Sony), Chayanne seemed primed for a crossover. He was known to mainstream America, thanks to a starring role in the film "Dance With Me" alongside Vanessa Williams and he was a major Latin superstar who was also hugely successful in Europe, the U.S., and other markets. Moreover, crossing Chayanne over into the English-speaking market wasn't just a thought: When "Simplemente" came out, he was already working on English tracks.

But instead of following that path, the singer did an about-face and signed a contract to star in an Argentine soap opera -- a decision that involved a major commitment and left many confounded.

One year later, on the eve of the release of a greatest-hits album -- the first in his lengthy career -- and a major international tour, it seems that Chayanne is on the right track after all. "My reality is [that] I'm Latin, and that's my essence," an upbeat Chayanne says, speaking from a video shoot in Argentina. "So I'll continue working like I have been. I've been working hard, and the time is coming to record this English album, but you have to accept things as they come."

And right now, they're coming in perfect synchronicity. "Chayanne - Greatest Hits" (Sony), due May 19, is boosted by an extraordinary set of circumstances. Chayanne's soap, "Provocame" (Provoke Me) -- which was launched in the U.S. last year -- has already been sold to approximately 30 territories, including all of Latin America, Russia, the Philippines, Israel, Slovenia, Greece, the Czech Republic, and Italy. And his concert tour -- which kicked off in Chile last month and encompasses more than 100 dates in about 20 countries -- will serve as another lucrative promotional vehicle.

"I feel [that] each album, each project I do makes me grow," Chayanne adds, "that my hunger, instead of lessening, gets stronger. Even when I made the soap and some people questioned it, I said, 'Yes, I'm doing it, because we'll be in every household in Latin America.' And the moment was right."

The moment was also right for the greatest-hits disc, after the idea for the English-language album lost momentum in the wake of last Sept. 11. This collection, which dates back to Chayanne's first major hit -- 1987's "Fiesta en America" -- also features three new songs, including the single "Y Tu Te Vas" penned by Franco De Vita, "Torero" by Estefano (the first single in Spain), and "Quisiera Ser" by Donato.

"There were songs that had a lot of meaning and others that were huge hits," Chayanne says. "The one that had to be there was 'Tiempo de Vals' -- it's one of my favorites. But my favorite favorite is 'Fiesta en America,' because it's the song that made me [an] international [success], and I constantly sing it. It's an old song but we had to have it, because it represents my career."

As for the English-language album, track selection is currently under way, and Chayanne is also picking material for an upcoming Spanish-language studio release.





Excerpted from the March 23, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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