José Mercé is one of the world’s greatest flamenco singers. He is known for his electrifying performances that have sold out stadiums in Spain.
Born into the Soto Sordera clan of Gypsy flamenco singers, he spent his early years working as a sought-after singer accompanying flamenco dance ensembles with the likes of Mario Maya, Carmen Mora and El Guito to his tours with Antonio Gades.
He garnered worldwide recognition as a solo artist with his groundbreaking 1998 recording Del Amanecer. Through his concerts and more than 600,000 albums sold over the past 15 years, he has made an enduring mark on flamenco.
Born in 1955 in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), José Mercé (José Soto) is the great grandson of seguiriya maestro Paco Luz and nephew of Manuel Soto “Sordera”, a patriarch of Jerez flamenco After singing as a child in the students’ choir of the Mercy Basilica (from which he took his artistic name), he appeared in Los Jueves Flamencos de Jerez and in the tablao La Cueva del Pájaro Azul.
He arrived to Madrid when he was 13 years old to record his first album produced by Manuel Ríos Ruiz, who would later write that “the consolidation of José Mercé as a new figure in singing means, for Jerez de la Frontera, the continuity of the flamenco miracle.”
With numerous Latin Grammy nominations and over 600,000 albums sold throughout his career, Jose Merce is a major star in Spain. His flamenco adaptions of Latin American and Spanish topical songs such as “Te recuerdo, Amanda” by Chilean singer-songwriter Victor Jara; “Clandestinos” by mestizo music pioneer Manu Chao and “Al Alba” by Spanish singer-songwriter Luis Eduardo Aute, defy all categories, taking flamenco to a broader audience.
Mercé participated in two of Carlos Saura’s acclaimed films: Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding) and Flamenco.
His numerous honors and awards include winning Cordoba’s National Contest of flamenco Art in 1986, an appointment as Hijo Predilecto de la Provincia de Cádiz (Favorite Son of the Province of Cádiz) in 2007, the Medal of Andalusia in 2010, and the 2011 FCG International Award for the Performing Arts.
* Cultura Jonda 14. Bandera de Andalucía Cultura Jonda 14. The flag of Andalucía (1968)
* Caminos reales del cante (EMI)
* Verde junco (EMI, 1985)
* Hondas Raíces (Deep Roots) (EMI,1991)
* Desnudando el alma (EMI, 1994)
* Del Amanecer, with Vicente Amigo (Virgin, 1998)
* Aire (Virgin, 2000)
* Quebrando el aire (Breaking the air)
* Cuerpo y alma (2002)
* Pa’ saber de tu querer (2002)
* Lío (Virgin, 2002)
* Confí de fuá (EMI, 2004)
* Verde junco – Hondas raíces, reissue (2004)
* Lo que no se da (What you don’t give away)(EMI, 2006)
* Ruido (2010)
* Mi única llave (2012)
* Doy La Cara (2016)
Puro y Jondo, with Fernando de la Morena (2002)
Lo mejor de José Mercé (The best of José Mercé) (2003)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.