Camarón de la Isla flamenco singer, José Monge Cruz

Camarón de la Isla - Flamenco singing / "Cante"

About Camarón de la Isla

Camarón de la Isla


Name: José Monge Cruz

Type: Flamenco singing / "Cante"

Place of birth: Cádiz

Fecha de Nacimiento: 1950

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JOSÉ MONGE CRUZ "CAMARÓN DE LA ISLA", flamenco singer. He was born in 1950 on the island of San Fernando (Cádiz), into a humble Gypsy family of nine brothers.

His uncle José baptized him with the nickname "Camarón" as a small boy because he was very thin, blonde and white-skinned.

Camarón had a throat gifted for singing, the doctors talk about a special configuration of his vocal cords, which gave him a perfect tuning. Camarón also had an unusual musical sense.

In 1958 he began singing in the afternoons at the "Venta de Vargas" in San Fernando (because he was too young to go at night). And already many flamenco connoisseurs asked for a performance from the "blonde gypsy who had an old man inside", which gave him fame among the consecrated masters since he was very young.

Since he was a child he started to win prizes. At the age of twelve, he won first prize in the "Concurso Flamenco del Festival de Montilla", in Córdoba. People knew him in the world of Flamenco and began his career with his best friend, the great cantaor "Rancapino". Together they toured the great fairs of Andalusia and they shared the venue with the best artists of the time.

One of his teachers was Miguel de los Reyes and another one more important, so it meant for Camarón's career, was Juanito Valderrama. Juanito was the godfather of dozens of artists and with his company Camarón became more famous throughout the country.

Camarón was able to assimilate styles and tones in an unusual way due to the capacity of his brain. Recent neurological studies, the latest by scientists at the Karolinska Institute, confirmed the coincidence in the human brain of the sense of rhythm with reasoning ability and intelligence.

One of the great moments in the history of flamenco occurred when Camarón and Paco de Lucía started working together in Madrid. At that time Camarón assimilated the knowledge of all the variants of the Flamenco repertoire thanks to Paco de Lucía's father. The two geniuses recorded a lot of records.

Camarón revolutionized Flamenco. The artist got a lot of fans, something never seen in the flamenco world and his art crossed borders.

One of the main provinces that marked the trajectory of "Camarón" was Malaga. He travelled to Malaga on many occasions to enjoy the art of "El Chino" and in the tavern the gypsy of Torremolinos was where he met the guitarist who always accompanied him: "Tomatito".

Camarón made many mythical songs and albums, such as "La leyenda del tiempo", in 1979, a work that was an authentic revolution by including sounds and rhythms typical of rock and jazz. This album includes adaptations of Lorca's poems with music by "Alameda" (co-producers of the album), as well as Ricardo Pachón, Kiko Veneno and the brothers Amador: Rafael and Raimundo.

His closest followers did not recognize him in this album and many came to return it because they believed that the real Camarón was not reflected in this album. Despite this, the album is now well known and internationally recognized. In 1989 he recorded "Soy gitano" with guitarist Vicente Amigo. This album has been the best-selling album in the history of Flamenco.

In 1992 he released his last album before his death:"Potro de rabia y miel", an album that was recorded together with "Paco de Lucía" and "Tomatito". The recording of this album was interrupted by lung cancer that was diagnosed due to his great addiction to tobacco and this was the reason why he died months later.

"Camarón de la Isla" has become the best flamenco singer of all time. He is venerated and mythified by his voice as well as by uniting Flamenco with other styles of music. The emptiness he has left behind is irreplaceable.

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