Jerez, Spain – Francisca Méndez, better known as “La
Paquera de Jerez,” died Monday afternoon at the Asisa Clinic in Jerez de la
Frontera (Cádiz, Spain). The flamenco legend had been hospitalized in the
intensive care unit for more than fifteen days. She had been suffering from high
glucose, which later caused a thrombosis.
La Paquera was 70 years old. Family sources informed that the funeral will take
place on Wednesday.
The Jerez-born singer was part of a group of candidates from the arts nominated
for the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for her contribution to Flamenco.La Paquera was born in Jerez de la Frontera in 1934, the daughter of a Gypsy
father and a paya (non-Gypsy) mother. She started out in the small gatherings in
her home town, then gained great popularity in the early 1950s with her first
recording. In 1957, she debuted at Corral de la Morería, toured Spain in 1959
with her show España por bulerías in 1960, and then headed Arte Español
together with El Farruco, Juanito Maravilla and El Chocolate. That same year,
she achieved great success at Madrid’s festival hall, York Club. Since then, she
toured all of Spain and Europe with different shows.
In 1971, La Paquera received the Niña de los Peines Award at the National
Flamenco Art Contest in Córdoba and the Chair of Flamencology presented her with
the Jerez Cup.
In December of 2003, La Paquera was given the golden medal of the Fine Arts.
And in February of 2004, she received the Compás del Cante award
given by the Cruzcampo Foundation.
La Paquera de Jerez had a long list of recordings and her repertoire was
equally extensive. Nevertheless, La Paquera emphasized bulerías, the style that
revealed her great qualities as a cantaora and her great originality: she was
called “the Queen of the bulería”. La Paquera was also a great interpreter of
fandango, of cantes from Jerez and of the purest flamenco cantes. She had a very
powerful voice and an exceptional sense of rhythm.