Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Marco Antonio Muñiz, 16 September 1968, East Harlem, NYC) Hip-hopper turned salsa romántica singer. He began singing at home as a child with his Latin folk musician/composer father Felipe Muñiz, who also coached him. Though exposed to salsa, that genre was regarded as uncool and old people's music; his generation of urban Latinos identified with and expressed themselves through dance music, house and hip-hop. At age twelve Anthony and his sister were hired to sing backing vocals on a recording by producer David Harris; from the mid-1980s he composed for the Latin Rascals, Sapphire and others, sessioned as a backing vocalist and did vocal production work, creating harmonies and other vocal enhancements. He signed with Atlantic '90 and made When The Night Is Over in collaboration with disc jockey/remixer/writer/producer Little Louie Vega, salsa luminaries Tito Puente, Luis 'Perico' Ortiz, Eddie Palmieri sessioning on the album; his first single topped the Billboard Hot Dance Tracks chart. Puente invited him to open at a Madison Square Garden concert to celebrate his album The Mambo King: 100th LP '91; the response to his singing debut in Spanish made Anthony realize that he'd exhausted house music's possibilities, and inspired him to begin a rediscovery of his Latin musical and cultural roots.
Following the concert he initially declined offers to record salsa, but while stuck in a Manhattan traffic jam, Little Louie's sister introduced him to Juan Gabriel's song 'Hasta Que Te Conoci': he was so impressed that he told RMM label boss Ralph Mercado and his manager that if he could record the tune, he would immediately begin a salsa album. The outcome was the runaway success Otra Nota '93 on RMM's Soho Latino imprint, produced and arranged by staff producer Sergio George; 'Hasta Que Te Conoci' was the first hit from the album, which also included 'El Ultimo Beso', written by his father. He sang 'Parece Mentira' for the movie soundtrack Carlito's Way '93 co-produced by Jellybean Benítez; he duetted with RMM's heavily promoted salsa-pop artist La India on the big hit 'Vivir Lo Nuestro' (from Combinacion Perfecta '93). He performed 'Hasta Que Te Conoci' backed by the RMM Orchestra on Familia RMM en Vivo '94 recorded live at the Miami Arena in October 1993; George co-produced (with Anthony) and wrote most of the arrangements on Anthony's chart-topping Grammy-nominated Soho Latino follow-up Todo A Su Tiempo '95. Anthony's success and heart-throb status helped wean a new generation on to salsa, albeit the soft romantic variety, making it hip for young Latino hip-hop/dance music fans to listen to him, as well as to other young, mainly Puerto Rico and Miami-based salsa romántica stars like Jerry Rivera and Rey Ruiz.
In 2011, six of Anthony's last eight albums had reached no. 1 on Billboard's Latin chart, and he had had 33 singles in the top 40, tied with Victor Manuelle for the most no. one hits. His eleven studio albums were said to have sold 30 million copies. He crossed over the the top 3 in trhe Billboard Hot 100 with 'I Need To Know' '99 and 'You Sang To Me' in 2000. His latest album, Iconis, released in May 2011, reached no. 11 on the Billboard album chart and was no. 1 on the Latin chart for six weeks, also earning his 12th Latin Grammy nomination (he's won three).
He married actress Jennifer Lopez in 2004, and joined her on American Idol in March 2011, where she had become a judge, helping to coach the contestants. As an actor he has appeared in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out The Dead '99 and Tony Scott's Man On Fire 2004, costarring in that with Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken. He played salsa legend Héctor Lavoe in Leon Ichaso's biopic El Cantante in 2006, starring opposite Lopez. He made a Broadway debut in Paul Simon's flop musical The Capeman '98, and works in TV, playing opposite Salma Hayak in the TV movie In The Time Of Butterflies 2001, and originating trhe role of police detective Nick Renata on the TNT series Hawthorne.