Tag Archives: Spanish music

Artist Profiles: Martires del Compas

Mártires del Compás

Mártires del Compás pushed the boundaries of traditional flamenco. Since its storied 1995 debut, Flamenco Billy, Martires brought a rougher, rootsier sound and a more street-level point-of-view to the flamenco-rock party.

To me, “flamenco billy” is a description of the Martires sound,” explained singer and lyricist Chico Ocaña. “It describes flamenco that’s on the border, something a little more raw, that can only be learned on ‘the University of the Street.’ What separates us from Ketama and Pata Negra is that they play rumba, which is just one style. We play actual flamenco, in many different styles – soleas, bulerias, fandangos, etc. Even though we’re payos (non-Gypsies) and even though we’re all self-taught musicians, we’ve studied and learned many different compas (rhythms) and palos (styles). We come from Andalucia, where all that matters is that you respect the music and play it well. If you play it well you’ll be accepted, no matter who you are. So when we mix our music with blues or rock or something African, it’s still coming from a base of flamenco. It’s always flamenco first.”

Life at the border, both musical and cultural, is something that comes naturally to Ocaña, who grew up in the small coastal town of San Roque, which was the gateway to Gibraltar. “I was born on the frontier,” he laughed. “22 kilometers (14 miles) from Africa and three kilometers (two miles) from England! Growing up I listened to shortwave radio and heard Arab music from Africa and pop music from England. All of that is part of the music I make today.”

That eclecticism was reflected in Martires del Compas’ original lineup, which first came together around 1994. In addition to Ocaña’s vocals, guitarist Julio Revilla brought his heavy metal licks to hear. and Alberto Alvarez traded in his drum kit for flamenco’s cajon. Manuel Soto brought traditional flamenco guitar technique and bassist Jesus Diaz added a pop sensibility to the Martires’ sound, while Senegalese percussionist Sidi Samb gave the group a funky. West African twist and Rocio Vazquez brought a clean breeze with her backing vocals.

Together, these musicians combined their disparate influences into Martires’ signature “flamenco billy” sound, and helped reinvent flamenco for the 21st century. “I don’t think that we created a new sound,” said Ocaña, “but rather a new posture within flamenco. We take real flamenco and update the lyrics for today’s street. My lyrics are inspired by what I see everyday, what I watch on the news on what I read in the papers. Of course, I write a lot of songs about love, too… because you just can’t get away from that in life.”

This ground-level lyricism and musical adventurousness has served Martires del Compas well. Since their 1995 debut they’ve released four subsequent albums in Spain: 1996’s Prohibido da el cante (“Singing Prohibited”), 1998’s Al compas de la llaga dolorida (To the Pulse of the Stigmata) 2000’s Mordiendo el duende (“Biting the Duende”), and 2000’s Empaquetado al vacio (“Vacuum Packed”). Only one of these, Mordiendo el duende, was released in the United States.

The band navigated some personnel changes, too, such as the departure of Sidi Samb. All of these albums saw Martires opening new dialogs between flamenco and rock, flamenco and blues, flamenco and West African music, flamenco and the music of the Latin Caribbean. As Martires explored the connections between flamenco and these other musics, they echoed the larger conversation of contemporary Spain finding its place in the world.

In 2007 the group disbanded. Lead vocalist Chico Ocaña went on to pursue a solo career. The rest of the band formed a new group called Pellizco.


* Flamenco Billy (1995)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LP33UW?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B001LP33UW | Prohibido da el cante “Singing Prohibited” (1996)
* Al compas de la llaga dolorida To the Pulse of the Stigmata (BMG, 1998)
* Mordiendo el duende “Biting the Duende”(Warner, 2000)
* Empaquetado al vacio “Vacuum Packed” (Warner, 2002)
* Simpapeles.es Compapeles.son (Warner, 2004)
* Mártires del Compás – 10 años (Warner, 2005), DVD + CD anthology


Artist Profiles: Marina Heredia

Marina Heredia


Marina Heredia Ríos, the daughter of flamenco singer Jaime El Parrón, was born in Granada on the 10th of April of 1980. She grew up with the art of flamenco in her blood. Marina started singing from her tender infancy and has been working relentlessly ever since. All her efforts and dedication paid off when she was awarded the prize Andalucía Joven a las Artes (Andalusia Youth for the Arts) for being an example of work and talent, and contributing to the dissemination of Andalusian flamenco throughout the world.

Since Marina’s first recording experience at the age of thirteen, making a flamenco CD for children called Malgre la Nuit, her artistic career began to take on a dizzying rhythm, when she participated in a new children’s CD, with a world music focus, representing flamenco to the world.

Her artistic commitments grew year by year. At fifteen, she collaborated as a singer in a group formed by guitarist Miguel Ángel Cortés and performed in various flamenco shows. This was when her international tours began and she performed with the flamenco dancer La China in Switzerland, France, Portugal, Spain and the London presentation of El Legado Andalusí (the Andalusian Legacy). In her search for new ways of understanding the flamenco of her roots, Marina has been experimenting with her musical ideas and shared the stage with gipsy performers from both Hungary and Pakistan in the Festival Madrid Sur.

Just a year later, she received critical acclaim for her performance on the stage of Espárrago 98 festival and began performing with well-established artists such as the dancer Maria Pagés and guitar maestro José María Gallardo. At the 10th Seville Flamenco Biennial, she was applauded triumphantly for her performance with Eva Yerbabuena at the Lope de Vega Theater.

With a growing reputation as one of the important young voices of flamenco, Marina took part in the Flamenco Adventure program, which took place during the late night concerts at the International Festival of Music and Dance in Granada. Also in 1998, Marina Heredia Ríos took part in the tribute concert for the legendary flamenco singer Camarón De La Isla in San Fernando, Cadiz.


Marina Heredia


Marina’s most flamenco side opened up to other kinds of music when she was involved with the opera De Amore by the composer Mauricio Sotelo and produced by the Munich Biennial and Madrid’s Zarzuela Theatre, premiering in the prestigious Carl Orff auditorium in Munich. Later that year, she performed in the concert Modus Novus again by Mauricio Sotelo for the Injuve 99 program for young composers at the Circulo de Bellas Artes (Academy of Fine Arts), Madrid.

Since the turn of the millennium Marina’s career has gone from strength to strength, appearing on main stages in Spain, France and Portugal. She has graced with her presence all the major Spanish festivals such as Madrid’s Autumn Festival, Seville’s Flamenco Biennial, and the festivals of Jerez, Ronda and of course the well-established International Festival of Music and Dance of Granada. Moreover, Marina has appeared in international festivals such as De Single of Antwerp, Strasbourg and the Nimes Flamenco Week. In 2002, she made her New York debut at the New York Flamenco Festival, where she also illustrated a conference by the critic and flamenco specialist Ángel Álvarez Caballero.

In 2001, she recorded her first solo album Me Duele, Me Duele, produced by Pepe de Lucia. Marina was accompanied by José Maria Cañizares and other great flamenco voices of today. That same year, she contributed to recording collaborations with Hougui B along with José Mercé creating a particular form of flamenco. Her interest in other artistic disciplines has led her to work with the dancer and choreographer Blanca Li in France and played a co-starring role alongside her father El Parrón in a documentary directed by Dominique Bel about the transmission of flamenco within the family.

This same restlessness brought her to poetry, which is especially present in her record La voz del agua (The voice of water), and clearly demonstrated in her performances both at the 7th Women Poets meeting in 2002 and at the International Solidarity Poetry Festival of Granada in 2005. Her poetic inclinations also brought her onto the stage in a UNESCO gala in Seville in solidarity with Afghan women.



In 2006, she opened the Seville Flamenco Biennial at the famous Lope de Vega Theater, but the most important work of that year was the recording of La voz del agua (The voice of water), her second solo album, under her own label.

In 2010 she performing together with Chekara Arab-Andalusian Orchestra of Tetuan that has collaborated with many of flamenco’s leading singers.




* Me Duele, Me Duele (Universal Music Spain, 2001)
* La voz del agua (Sello Autor, 2007)
* Marina (2010)
* A mi tempo (2013)

Web site: www.marinaheredia.com


Soleá and Kiki Morente to Perform in Cordoba

Soleá and Kiki Morente

Flamenco vocalists Soleá and Kiki Morente are set to perform at Teatro Góngora in Cordoba on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

The siblings will present their show “Dos corazones a un tiempo”. The lineup includes Soleá and Kiki Morente on vocals; Jj Machuca on piano; David Carmona on flamenco guitar; Pedro Gabarre on background vocals, percussion and dance.


Artist Profiles: La Shica

La Shica

Elsa Rovayo, “La Shica”, was born in Ceuta, Spain, in 1972. La Shica learned flamenco, Spanish dance and classical ballet. She performs a hybrid form of flamenco and copla (Spanish song) with pop and urban influences.

Her unique style blends traditional dance with a more modern aesthetic. She received two Music Awards as Upcoming Artist for her second album, Supercop (2010).


La Shica


La Shica has collaborated with various Spanish and international artist, including the following albums: El Evangelio según mi jardinero (2005) by Martín Buscaglia; De ayer a mañana (2005) by Eliseo Parra; Adelantando (2007) by Jarabe de Palo; Agua misteriosa (2010) by Javier Limón’s Mujeres de agua; El vecindario (2010) by Macaco; ¿A dónde vas? (2014) by Jarabe de Palo and Ximena Sariñana; Ome – Dos (2014) by Jenny and the Mexicats.





Trabajito de chinos (Warner Music Spain, 2008)
Supercop (Warner Music Spain, 2010)
Esa (2014)


EXIB Música 2017 Showcase to Return One More Year to Portugal

The 4th edition of the Iberoamerican showcase EXIB Música 2017 will take place in Portugal once more. The 2017 event will be based in Évora with additional activities in Arraiolos and Montemor-o-Novo. The expo focuses on the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas. It will be held June 7-10, 2017.

The program will be based on the premises of the Expo: impulse, commitment, diversity, industry and identity.

The program will feature 18 showcases from all Iberoamerica as well as 12 Off-EXIB concerts representing the music of the Portuguese regions. The expo will include a professional area with booths to disseminate information and generate networking.

The 4th edition of EXIB Música comes with important international collaborations as well as reflections on the space of musical management in the Creative Economy.

The program will also include the launch of projects, laboratories on music, meetings, masterclasses and documentaries of Ibero-American music.

More at exibmusica.com


Acclaimed Flamencos and Mestizos Series Returns to Madrid This Week

The SGAE Foundation will present a new edition of its much-admired Flamencos and Mestizos series March 9-12, 2017 at Sala Berlanga in Madrid.

The showcase will feature performances by La Shica, Pablo Rubén Maldonado & La Susi; Enrique Heredia ‘Negri’, Genara Cortés, Toñi Fernández and the bailaoras (dancers) Macarena Ramírez, Leilah Broukhim and Antonio Molina ‘El Choro’.

Flamencos and mestizos will open on Thursday, March 9th with two shows that defy tradition. First, with the heterogeneous style of La Shica, which will present a form of flamenco fused with alternative genres such as punk, rock or funk. She will be joined by the young bailaora (dancer) Macarena Ramírez, whose wild performances steer away from orthodoxy.

On March 10, the Berlanga Hall will host Pablo Rubén Maldonado (piano) & La Susi (vocals). They play flamenco that rather than fusion is evolution. The double bill will also feature Enrique Heredia ‘Negri’, one of the finest vocalists of new flamenco.

Singer-songwriter Toñi Fernández and bailaor (dancer) Antonio Molina ‘El Choro’ will dive into Flamenco roots to endow them with new meanings on Saturday, March 11.

Vocalist Genara Cortés and dancer Leilah Broukhim will present the final performance of the current edition of the Flamencos and Mestizos series on Sunday, March 12 with a show that demonstrates that flamenco does not recognize borders.

Flamencos and mestizos is a showcase series created to provide a window to emerging artists who straddle the border between deep flamenco and mestizo flamenco through music and dance. This is the fifth installment of this series started in 2015, directed by producer, composer and singer Paco Ortega.

Sala Berlanga is located at Calle de Andres Mellado, 53, 28015 Madrid.
Time 21:00 (9:00 pm).
Tickets: €5.50 euros


Flamenco Singer El Pele to present Puro Pele in Seville

El Pele

The Flamenco Viene del Sur 2017 series will present flamenco vocalist El Pele on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 9:00 pm at Teatro Central in Seville.

El Pele learned flamenco from his family. He performed as a Young child at flamenco gatherings and nightclubs. He won the Premio Cayetano Muriel en Cabra (Córdoba) award at 15. Other awards followed, including Melón de Oro (Montalbán, 1970), Premio La Serneta, por soleá, and Pastora Pavón, por bulerías, at the National Flamenco At Contest in Córdoba.

Lineup: El Pele on vocals; Niño Seve on guitar; José Moreno on percussion; and Bobote y Torombo on palmas.

Tickets available at www.elcorteingles.es and by phone: 902400222.


Artist Profiles: La Niña de los Peines

La Niña de los Peines

No one knows for sure why flamenco legend Pastora Pavón was known as La Niña de los Peines (the Girl with the Hair Combs). Some say that when she was 8, she sang in a Madrid cafe, wearing two large combs in her hair. Others believe that her nickname came from one of he most popular songs:

“Peinate tú con mis peines
Mis peines son de canela”

(Comb your hair with my combs,
My combs are made of cinnamon…)

Pastora Pavon was the sister of the great cantaor Tomas Pavon and she married cantaor Pepe Pinto. She was born in 1890 in Sevilla and started performing at a very early age.

La Niña de los Peines recorded many songs, including a wide-range of genres, from the deepest cante jondo to very commercial songs. La Niña de los Peines was so popular in Spain that the Sevilla city council had a statue built in her honor and placed in a main square.

She died in 1969.

Selected Discography

* Great Masters of Flamenco, Vol. 3 (Chant du monde, 1992)

* La Niña de los peines, voz de estaño fundido (Sonifolk, 1997)

* La voz de interes cultural: La Niña de los Peines (EMI-Odeón, 1997)

* La Niña de los peines, Patrimonio de Andalucía (Fonotrón, 2004)

* La Niña de los Peines y Manuel Vallejo (Disc Medi, 2009)

* La Niña de los Peines, Año 1930-40 (Disc Medi, 2009)


Artist Profiles: La Musgaña

La Musgaña in 2015

Renowned Spanish folk group La Musgaña began as a street band in Madrid. For years, La Musgaña has developed an idiosyncratic style of performing traditional Castilian music. It stayed away from the stereotypical rondalla arrangements used by many artists who lacked the imagination to renovate Castilian roots music.

The first recording by the group was El Diablo Cojuelo (The Lame Devil), released in 1988 by the Sonifolk label. It was an instrumental album except for the ballad (romance) “Un soldado menos.”

That same year, La Musgaña participated at the Muestra Nacional de Folk para jovenes interpretes (National Folk Music Showcase for young performers), which took place in Santiago of Compostela. The group won the first prize for contemporary folk music. La Musgaña’s performance was videotaped by TVE (Spanish National TV). Thanks to this award, the group was given the opportunity to record another album, this time for RTVE’s label. El Paso de la Estantigua was the group’s first recording released in CD format.

In spite of having two albums, making a living with the group was a struggle. La Musgaña had to combine its few paid live performances with busking in the streets. The band played frequently at Madrid’s famous Retiro Park to make some extra money. At the same time, La Musgaña carried out some international tours, especially through Great Britain, where they performed at numerous clubs and festivals.

The decision of professionalizing the group’s career motivated some changes in the line-up. José Maria Climent and Rafa Martin did not want to become full time musicians and left the group. They were replaced by two veterans of Madrid’s folk and world music scene: Luis Delgado and Cuco Perez.

By then, a third album had been recorded and it was released in 1991 by a small label called Lady Alicia Records. Its title human was Lubican, a tribute to the Iberian lynx. The album featured the original line-up with Luis Delgado as a guest on one piece. There were also other well known guests, on vocals, Manuel Luna and Javier Bergia. However, when the album was released, the line-up had changed and the back cover photo included Cuco Perez and Luis Delgado as members of the group.

The next recording was for TVE, which dedicated one episode of its series Arte y artistas (Art and Artists) to the band. In 1992 La Musgaña recorded three new pieces destined to be included as a bonus in the reissue in CD of their first album, El Diablo Cojuelo.

In 1993, the band participated in a collective CD dedicated to the Camino de Santiago (Santiago Route). The title of the album was Hek Sant Jakez, released by the Shamrock label (now owned by Schott Music). In addition to La Musgaña, the album featured Breton band Bleizi Ruz, Desi Wilkinson (Ireland), Laurent Jouin (Brittany, France) and Leilia, a Spanish group from Galicia.

During that time, La Musgaña kept touring abroad, sometimes accompanied by Javier Bergia. One of the best known international Celtic labels, Green Linnet Records, became interested in La Musgaña and offered the band a contract for several albums. It began by re-releasing Lubican. After Cuco Perez left, Xenophile (Green Linnet’s world music imprint) released La Musgaña’s new album. Titled Las Seis Tentaciones (The Six Temptations), the album was an intoxicating homage to traditional Castilian music, originally meant for weddings, street parties and religious ceremonies. It was performed with an interesting mixture of traditional and modern instruments. Las Seis Tentaciones was completely instrumental. This made it easier to market internationally. The album featured Basque accordionist Kepa Junkera as a guest.

For its 10th anniversary, the basic trio of La Musgaña celebrated a decade of work with some concerts in which many of the group’s friends participated as guests. There were former band members on stage, such as Rafael Martin, Cuco Perez and Luis Delgado. There were also great instrumentalists like Kepa Junkera, Javier Paxariño; singers Amancio Prada and Manuel Luna; several members of Radio Tarifa and Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham. A live album, La Musgaña en Concierto was later released.

Friday, August 13, 2004, was a sad day for La Musgaña. During a sound check in Cardedeu (Eastern Spain), Quique (Enrique) Almendros, flautist and piper, suffered a brain hemorrhage. His fellow band members and a doctor aided him. Despite the quick ride to the hospital, he entered into a deep coma.


La Musgaña in 2009


The lineup changed throughout the years. In 2015, the band added Sebastián Rubio on drums and percussion, Antonio Toledo on classical guitar and Marta de la Aldea as lead singer.



* El Diablo Cojuelo (Sonifolk, 1988)
* El Paso de la Estantigua (RTVE Música, 1989)
* Lubicán (Lady Alicia Records/Green Linnet, 1993)
* Las Seis Estaciones (Green Linnet/Xenophile, 1995)
* La Musgaña en Concierto (Resistencia, 1997)
* Temas profanos (Lubican Records, 2003)
* 20 (Mad River, 2007)
* Idas y venidas (Lubican Records, 2009)
* Entre dos (2013)
* Si supiera que cantando (2015)

Web Site: www.lamusgana.net


Artist Profiles: José Mercé

José Mercé

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)