Artist Profiles: Hevia


Hevia – photo by Tim Kavanagh

Jose Angel Hevia Velasco was born in Villaviciosa, Asturias in 1967.

He first came into contact with the bagpipes when he was four years old during a procession in Amandi when he was with his grandfather. It was there that the image of a man and his bagpipes had an impact on the very young Jose Angel. The unity between the pipe player, his music and the instrument seemed magical to him.

Hevia then began bagpipe classes. Three times a week, after school, he took the bus to Gijon. Armando Fernández taught him in the traditional style and then accompanied him back to the bus. He arrived home at 12 o’clock at night and the following day practiced what he had learned in class so he hardly had time for other leisure activities.

In the same year in which he began classes, he underwent a ?baptism of fire? in sporadic performances with folk groups.

His sister, Maria Jose, noticing that a drummer accompanied all bagpipe players, wanted to participate. One of the best drummers that Villaviciosa had, Sabino Cifuentes, agreed to tutor her in all the traditional rhythms, in his own house, with great patience. At the end of class Hevia took his bagpipes and played songs so his sister could try to accompany him. All this often ended up in a huge rumpus when a pacifying “mother’s spanking” usually resolved the problem.

Shortly after, they began performing together throughout Asturias and travelling to different Asturian centres overseas.

In 1985 Jose Angel began to give classes and shortly after formed a bagpipe band with his pupils. Thus, without abandoning the traditional pair, the bagpipes and the drum, a new period in his life had begun. During this time, the bagpipes had suddenly become popular amongst young Asturians and music schools sprung up in a multitude of places. Jos? Angel himself founded new schools in Villaviciosa, Candas, Ribadesella and Mieres, out of which came new bagpipe bands. During this time he also performed in various folk groups and collaborated in a variety of recordings. Meanwhile he was studying Spanish Philology at university but his real vocation continued to be music and the bagpipes.

In that same year he developed the midi-bagpipes. This initiative started by trying to solve the problem that all pipe players have when they are practising at home; that of disturbing the neighbours. To this end, he and Alberto Arias, one of his pupils who was a computer programmer, created a kind of plastic scale with the pulse buttons of a slot machine. This eventually became the midi-bagpipes, which in the end has become emblematic and indispensable in his work. Within this research team also worked the electronic technician Miguel Dopico.

In 1997 Jose Angel began his career as a soloist. He recorded his first album Tierra de Nadie, which was his first great success both on a national and international level. His album, backed by a world tour, was released in more than 40 countries and in many of which reached the first places in the hit parades. More than 2,000,000 albums were sold winning a multitude of gold and silver discs in countries as diverse as Italy, Hungary, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark and Portugal.

In 2000 he released his second album Al Otro Lado with which he renewed his success visiting with his new tour some of the previous countries and discovering new ones.

The following year he accomplished his dream and inaugurated a musical instrument factory in Guadarrama (Madrid), www.arhpa.com.

On November 12, 2018, José Ángel Hevia Velasco was elected president of the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE).

Discography:

Hevia (Nuba Records, 1991)
Tierra De Nadie (Hispavox, 1998)
Al Otro Lado (Hispavox, 2000)
Étnico Ma Non Troppo (Hispavox, 2003)
Obsessión (EMI, 2007)
Al Son Del Indianu (J. A. Hevia, 2018)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV 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 albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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