In the 1940s, Rafael ‘Ralph’ Pérez was an A&R rep for the Latin American division of Decca Records in New York. As a proud Puerto Rican, he wanted to champion the authentic Latin music that mainstream American labels largely ignored. He saw the need to address this lack of music in a market he felt was underserved, so he founded Ansonia Records in 1949, naming it after a popular hotel on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where the company often housed visiting recording artists.
Some of the first Ansonia sides were Dominican merengues. Pérez put together what became the most popular group in that genre outside of the Dominican Republic in the 1950s: Ángel Viloria y su Conjunto Típico Cibaeño. From this initial success, Pérez and Ansonia would continue to release music made for Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican immigrants in the Spanish-speaking New York communities of El Barrio (Spanish Harlem), The Bronx and Brooklyn, as well as for listeners in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America. During the 1950s and 60s, the Ansonia catalog grew to contain a long list of artists from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other countries including Haiti and Spain.