Flamenco 26 – Favourites this year

After last week’s post in the company of Los Farrucos, we thought we’d slow things down a little this week and spend some time in the company of a couple of young singers who have a lot to offer and are causing something of a sensation this year. The first, Sandra Carrasco, we have seen before in our post on Fandangos: the second, Pablo Alborán, is a young singer-songwriter from Málaga whose work probably falls more into the category of Latin Popular Music or Flamenco Pop, but whose voice (especially the quiebros) betrays a deep rooted Andalusian heritage and whose collaborations with Flamenco artists will hopefully make him one to watch over the next few years.

Sandra Carrasco was born in Huelva in 1981 and started singing in public at the age of seven. Like many of her contemporaries, she combined her early career with music studies and as well as being an increasingly successful solo artist, she is a qualified music teacher.
Sandra doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t keen to sing in public. She took part in the musical numbers at Carnival time when she was still at primary school and was a member of a choir that recorded seven cds. This led to her being offered a role in the musical “Enamorados Anónimos”, which in turn led to her being invited to sing backing vocals for artists such as Arcángel, Estrella Morente, Manolo Sanlúcar, El Pele… Singing with Estrella Morente was a turning point for her, she says. She spent the performance crying with joy and was especially touched by how kind Estrella was to her. Something she remembers to this day and something that inspired her to make her career in music.
Here she is singing “La Calle del Olivar” a Copla (a traditional story-telling format) accompanied on an Oud in the syle of Bulerías:

After these engagements Sandra toured the world singing with El Nuevo Ballet Español, another experience from which she learned a great deal. “I have always tried to grow along with the music. There’s always something to learn from every artist, from the greatest to the least well known…You have to keep an open mind and want to learn. Everything I have done has been rewarding to me both personally and artistically.”
Here she is singing “Niños del Aire” from her début solo album:

Sandra’s voice is her instrument, a filter for the sentiment that wells up from deep inside. “People like my voice and tell me it is pretty”, she says, “and I’m happy about that. But I think it’s what’s inside the person, what the voice expresses, that really touches people.”
The producer Javier Limón (who can be seen playing guitar on the previous clip) is one of many who has been entranced by her voice and the way she transmits what comes from the heart. Javier was the first person from the music industry that she met when she came to Madrid. They have worked together on the Mujeres de Agua project (the first clip is from that cd, which we wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who is interested in finding out more about women in Flamenco today) and her first solo album.
They took their time over song selection, arrangements and recording, making sure that Sandra was happy with the results and that the début would be one that reflected not only her voice but the way she feels about her music. She has described working with Javier as delightful. “He has shown incredible tact and psychology working with me”.
Here is another clip from her début album – “Solilla”:

“I envy artists who can feel satisfied with the results of what they do” she says, admitting to a perfectionist streak that could have led to her never finishing the album. Fortunately, under Javier’s guidance, she did. We’re already looking forward to the next one, Sandra.

Pablo Alborán was born in Malaga in 1989 and his début album “Solamente Tú” has been one of the success stories of the year. Produced by Manuel Illán, it includes collaborations with Estrella Morente and Diana Navarro and showcases some extraordinary and original song writing. It is Pablo’s song writing talent and the strength of a number of songs on this album that make him stand out from the ten-a-penny Latino popsters he is all to often compared with. That and a truly great voice. He often sings a capella Flamenco snippets (particularly Bulerías) between the more conventional pop numbers at his shows.
Here he is singing “Solamente Tú” with Diana Navarro:

Pablo is, without doubt, one of the best new Spanish artists to have appeared this year. The sort of artist that only comes around once or twice a decade, really. He has built up an enormous fan base in a very short time but somehow managed to keep his feet on the ground and maintain the approachability and simplicity and discipline that got him there in the first place. He has been nominated in three categories (Best Male singer, Best New Artist and Best Album) in the Latin Grammys and his début album has already gone platinum in Spain and has been released throughout Latin America and in the USA. His 60 date tour this year was, of course, completely sold out.
Here he is in a video filmed in the beautiful city of Lisbon, singing one of the tracks from the album with the Portuguese artist Carminho – “Perdóname”:

Pablo’s “overnight” success is no such thing. Many of the songs were written years ago and he has honed his craft over the years studying piano, guitar and singing. He realised he wanted to sing professionally at the age of thirteen. It came to him suddenly, he says, but he hasn’t looked back since. He has worked his way up, listening to older, more experienced artists, always eager to learn from them. The opportunities his success has given him to travel and to meet people from other musical backgrounds are another chance to learn, he says. An opportunity to do “strange” things with songs he has already written, turn them around, try out new ideas.
Here he is singing what has probably been his most successful song to date – “Miedo”:

And here to end are Sandra and Pablo together singing a song he wrote when he was only twelve. The video is from a concert in Madrid this summer and includes some irritating audience “singing along ’cause we know the lyrics” from Pablo’s (mainly) teenage female fans. Try to filter it out: it’s worth the effort!

Pablo Alborán and Sandra Carrasco – “Desencuentro”:

One Response to Flamenco 26 – Favourites this year

  1. Pingback: The Flamenco Series « Casa Maki

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