José Alberto started his own band in 1983, and became a major Latin star after the release of his 1984 debut Noches Calientes. His 1991 album Dance With Me, which established a new style of salsa called salsa romántica. He has sung hit songs such as "Sueño Contigo" His voice was widely adored by his fans, and his exceptional whistling abilities (being able to improvise as if he was playing a traverse flute) led them to give him the nickname El Canario ("The Canary").
El Canario has enjoyed success in the United States and Europe, but especially throughout Latin America, including in his native Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Peru, Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador. El Canario in 1999 also was part of the biggest Latin American festival in Australian history at The Bacardi Darling Harbor Latin American Festival in Sydney, as supporting act for salsa performer Celia Cruz with over 22,000 people in attendance.
On May 24, 2008, José Alberto celebrated 30 years in the music industry at the United Palace Theater in New York City. Among the several special guests were Oscar D'León, Ismael Miranda, Raulín Rosendo, Joe Arroyo, and Latin music mogul Ralph Mercado.