7 Famous Flamenco Singers Who Made Us Weep
Flamenco, as a central part of Spain’s cultural identity, has given rise to famous flamenco singers whose voices and stage presence embody the passion and profound emotional state that characterize this folkloric music style.
When you think about flamenco, it’s likely that many traditional images come to mind, such as men playing the guitar, people clapping to a hypnotic beat, women dancing as they wave their red skirts in circular patterns. While that may be what a flamenco concert looks like, here are many other essential aspects to this music style and dance that I’ll be exploring in this blog post.
- What flamenco is
- Various styles of flamenco
- 7 famous flamenco singers whose talent is awe-inspiring
Let’s get started!
What is Flamenco?
It is said that flamenco originated in Andalucia, Spain in the late 18th century. Some say that it was the Spanish Gypsy people who developed it, but the true origins are still a mystery due to a lack of any official record.
Fun fact! In 2010, Flamenco was inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Flamenco is comprised of three parts:
- El cante – the song
- El toque – the playing of the instruments
- El baile – the dance
When it comes to styles, flamenco has many variants called palos. Every palo has its own name and rhythmic pattern. The most famous are the following:
Our list is short as there are many more styles! There are many ways in which one can categorize the palos, but they’re usually categorized by vocal styles.
- Cante Jondo or Cante Grande is a serious, profound, and deep tone of singing.
- Cante Intermedio is a tone of singing less profound, but also moving.
- Cante Chico is a lighter tone of singing.
Ultimately, the vocal styles set the tone for the musical accompaniment. While the guitars and the dancing help portray what the song is about, it’s up to the singer to transmit the emotion behind every song.
The most famous flamenco singers will have the audience laughing or weeping just with their voices, and that is the true magic behind flamenco.
Let’s see who these talented singers are!
7 Famous Flamenco Singers
1. Camarón de la Isla
José Monje Crus, known as Camarón de la Isla, is considered one of the main figures of Flamenco. He started singing from a very young age. He lost his father when he was only 7 years old and he started singing in taverns to earn money. He became famous for his voice and his innovation when it came to different instruments and styles.
He has been awarded many awards, including the First Prize of the Cante Jondo Festival. He was also awarded Llave de Oro del Cante in 2000, posthumously.
In 2018, Netflix released the documentary film Camarón: Flamenco y Revolución (Camarón: The Film). The goal of this documentary was “to explain how the myth was built.”
2. Carmen Linares
Carmen Linares started her career as a flamenco singer accompanied by her father, who played the guitar. Her fame comes from her raw and emotional voice, and as such, she’s won the status of flamenco legend. Carmen Linares established her place in the Spanish musical culture by releasing various albums and touring. In fact, she was one of the first flamenco singers to be invited to the Lincoln Center in New York by the Philharmonic Orchestra.
She has won many awards, including the prestigious Spanish award Premio Nacional de Música in 2001.
3. Nina Pastori
Nina Pastori was born in the same town as Camarón de la Isla, and she has established her place as one of the most famous flamenco singers. She started singing when she was seventeen years old and hasn’t stopped since. Her style is slightly different from the traditional flamenco styles. She adds a twist of pop to her music, which really makes her music stand out from the rest.
She won her fourth Latin Grammy Award in 2016.
4. Enrique Morente
Enrique Morente was a flamenco singer from Madrid. He was a controversial figure within the world of contemporary flamenco. He experimented with different sounds and even wrote down new melodies. Even though he received a lot of criticism, he is considered one of the most influential contemporary flamenco singers.
He composed music for verses written by famous Spanish poets like Miguel Hernández and Antonio Machado. He also composed music for texts written by Lope de Vega, another famous Spanish author.
5. Estrella Morente
Estrella Morente is the daughter of the previously mentioned Enrique Morente. She followed in her father’s footsteps and became one of the most famous flamenco singers. She is considered to have one of the best flamenco singing voices.
Her fame has arisen thanks to her deep voice and sense of rhythm. In 2001, she was named Ambassador of Andalucia. She has also received two Latin Grammy nominations.
6. José Mercé
José Soto, artistically known as José Mercé, is another renowned flamenco singer. He started his career at the age of twelve, singing in various flamenco festivals. He recorded his first album when he was thirteen years old.
He collaborated with the National Ballet of Madrid and became the first gypsy singer to perform at the Teatro Real, which launched his career and became one of the most famous flamenco singers.
7. La Niña de los Peines
Last, but definitely not least, is La Niña de los Peines. Her real name was Pastora Pavón Cruz and most will agree that she is the best flamenco singer in history. During her career, she mastered practically all the flamenco styles. Her voice was often compared to famous blues singers like Ma Rainey, due to its powerful and soulful qualities.
She devoted herself entirely to singing from a very young age. She even created her own styles such as Bamberas and Lorqueñas. She sang and combined a lot of different palos. She liked to say her singing voice would “comb your hair”, which is how she got her nickname.
Who Is Your Favorite Flamenco Singer?
These are only seven of the most famous flamenco singers, but there are many more! Who do you like best? Let me know in the comments!
Learn more about Spanish Dances from Spain to Latin America.
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