Wonder boy Miguel Poveda, a flamenco singer who came to flamenco via Spanish lyrical song, pays tribute to that parallel world in “Coplas del Querer”, a double CD with 18 pieces including such classics as “Ojos Verdes”, “La Bien Pagá” and “A Ciegas”, the latter included in the soundtrack of Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film, “Los Abrazos Rotos”. With the record in promotion, and slated to be released on June 2nd, the singer will juggle flamenco concerts with this other newly recorded repertoire that will be presented in Seville on June 9th and 10th at the Lope de Vega Theater. This is a referential flamenco singer who, thanks to this new work, is destined to become an important force in lyrical song as well.
What came first for you, Spanish song or flamenco cante?
First, it was Spanish song, “copla”, the kind done by flamenco singers like Paquera, Manolo Caracol, Rafael Farina, Juanito Valderrama… I knew all those singers via the copla, and later on I got involved in their world and saw they were flamenco singers. Then there was also Marifé de Triana, Juanita Reina, Concha Piquer, Miguel de Molina…I also entered that world, but they didn’t sing flamenco, only copla. Bambino was another one who brought me into the world of flamenco. Those are the flamenco singers I listened to, and who brought me into flamenco, although I ended up putting copla on the back burner and devoted myself to flamenco.
You were already interested in making a record of copla…
Lots of people said to go and do it, I’d already recorded a zambra in Suena Flamenco, and I’ve sung it many times in performance. In “Tierra de Calma” there’s a potpourri of copla called “La Radio de mi Madre”, with Joan Albert Amargós in Peralada I sang “Te lo Juro Yo”, and with Martirio in the show “Romance de Valentía”. Everyone who heard me sing copla, even copla interpreters said the same thing, so now we’ve finally found the moment to do, right in the middle of a recession.
Was it Martirio who opened your appetite for copla?
No, I called Martirio to sing with me, the Grec festival in Barcelona asked me to do something, and I proposed Martirio. In the end, she took charge of everything, fortunately, she has much more experience than me, but my interest in copla was from before that.
That same year you had the recording “Cante i Orquestra”, it doesn’t seem logical to bring out two records in such a short space of time.
No, that record was from a concert in Peralada last year, originally performed in 2000, and a group of people from Barcelona brought it out, but I don’t even want to name it, it has nothing to do with me, except for the musicians and others who worked on that concert.
What about “Desglaç?
That yes, that’s one of my official records.
Getting back to copla…they say you like Isabel Pantoja…
Yes, of course, but the real Pantoja, not the one everyone sees. She is a true performer of copla, and in fact, she’s the last contemporary of maestros Rafael de León and Juan Solano, the last one those composers picked up on; with her, the era of copla came to an end. I like that traditional way of interpreting copla, the way they strut around with the big dresses, interpreting the songs of Quintero-León-Quiroga, in films, DVD, classic format…I love all that, it’s a good image, and Isabel is a fine performer, I stick up for her, and Rocío Jurado too, and Marifé de Triana, and Gracia Montes, Juanita Reina…all the great stars of the genre.
Then there’s also Pasión Vega, Martirio, Diana Navarro…
Martirio is the one who’s delved most deeply into the world of copla, bringing it to young people and offering a different perspective, a very visual, personal and distinctive aesthetic. It’s an alternative path. I always say Martirio is the Enrique Morente of copla…daring and committed. She may not have the voice of Rocío Jurado, or the temperament of Lola Flores, it’s something else…when I look at Martirio I see nothing but art in everything she does.
“When I look at Martirio I see nothing but art in everything she does”
The world of copla is a woman’s world.
That’s the problem I come up against when choosing songs, it’s like a brick wall. Most of the lyrics are made for women, many others are about bullfighters, others are so cheesy you want to scream “enough already!”, horrible, tasteless. I selected songs that speak of love and love lost, things they sang to Carmen Amaya, that’s the kind of thing I defend. I selected songs that can be interpreted by a man, and the ones that are for women, sometimes I sing those too, love has no sexual persona, you’re in love with a man or a woman, there’s no difference when you’re in love. It’s just that the vast majority are composed for women, because there have always been more women interpreters, if a man sang copla, he was considered a homosexual.
You had an earlier brief experience in the world of cinema with Bigas Luna, and now, in a different way, with Pedro Almodóvar…what was that like?
Who I was actually in contact with was Alberto Iglesias. Almodóvar directed, he decided how he wanted things to be, very intense, even elegant if that makes any sense…and Alberto and I took it from there. We worked together in the studio. Almodóvar wasn’t even there, but it’s true that a copla of Quintero-León-Quiroga is still relevant in a film, and I’m very glad Almodóvar used it.
Chicuelo plus Poveda…can we talk about a dream team?
It’s true I’ve mostly worked with Chicuelo, not so much in live performance, but in a series of works and adventures. I’ve also worked with other guitarists, Juan Carlos Romero, Alfredo Lagos…but the most ambitious things have been with Chicuelo, he played on the record of Catalonian singing, and on this “Coplas del Querer”, also many other projects.
They say you won over Jerez. How did you manage it?…it doesn’t seem like an easy task.
I don’t think I’ve won over Jerez, but I have the people’s gratitude for the affection I profess for that city, the respect and admiration I feel for Jerez, they are deeply grateful that I always talk about Jerez, although they don’t need me to do it, there are plenty of reasons for Jerez to stand on its own. But I don’t feel accepted as just another singer in Jerez, I have a different approach…wow, if only it were true, that would be fantastic! I do feel the warmth and affection, I often go to Jerez to visit friends.
We’re going to have the opportunity to see the show “Sin Frontera” in Suma Flamenco…
That’s right, June 2nd, the same day the record comes out. We’ll be at the Teatro Calderón (Haägen Dazs), and then we go to the Juan Bravo Teather in Segovia. It’s a show we’ve been doing for two years, and I really have a great time, there’s always some sort of surprise. On stage, we’re in a sort of tavern, and different things always happen, the fiesta is never the same, I love it, you never know what’s going to happen from one moment to the next. There’s an outline of course, but always room for the unexpected.
And the show “Coplas del Querer” also debuts soon.
On June 9th and 10th at the Lope de Vega theater in Seville, then we go on to Valladolid, Córdoba, Las Palmas, Barcelona, Madrid….I don’t know the dates yet, but several days in Madrid.
You’ve sung Argentine tango, copla, bolero, jazz, Mexican rancheras, Catalonian poets in Catalonian…do you feel flamenco is too limited?
Not at all, quite the contrary, it seems bigger all the time, I have a long way to go in flamenco. More than anything else, and above all else, what I most work on is flamenco. Some people think I do other things to make money, but nothing could be further from the truth – my income is from flamenco recitals. I’m hoping to record a double CD of flamenco I’ve got in mind.
What’s that about?
A kind of anthology, although I don’t like to call it that, I’m not enough of a singer yet to do that. I want to do a selection of traditional cantes in tribute to Pencho Cros, with mining cante which I’ve hardly ever recorded, the soleá of Charamusco, with some personal versions of flamenco forms…I’m already working on it.
You’re a singer in demand from many sectors of music, but no rock musician has called you so far, the way all the rock people call Morente.
I guess they don’t see me as a rocker, no one’s called so far. Morente is already a rock musician, I love what he did at the tribute to Miguel Candela, can’t stop watching it on Youtube.
We haven’t heard anyone say anything negative about you…
(Laughter). Keep digging, you’re sure to find something…
For flamenco fans, you’re our Nadal, and now, our Guardiola…desconstruct your myth a little…
Hmmm…I’ve still got a thorn in my side about flamenco. I’ve been in this since I was 15, but I still haven’t made the flamenco record I want to make. I made one with Juan Carlos Romero that I like very much, in collaboration with Moraíto, Diego Carrasco…there are some very adventurous compositions. The farruca is a jewel…but no matter how you look at it, it’s still a record of composed music by Juan Carlos Romero. I still need to make a recording of traditional flamenco, with 13 flamenco cantes, that’s my number. I was born Tuesday the 13th at the thirteenth hour. I won in La Unión at the 33rd festival, I’m the eldest of three children, 3 is my number, and 13 much more so. I want to do 13 cantes because that’s my good luck number.
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