Essential keys to understand our flamenco showJuly 25, 2023
Granada has been and is one of the most important cradles of the history of flamenco. From the city of the Alhambra and Sacromonte have emerged many artists, many belonging to great sagas of singers, guitarists and dancers.
Each artist has contributed all their talent and effort to make flamenco in Granada recognized worldwide as one of the key cities in this art, many of them becoming recognized figures in their artistic disciplines. Most of those who left the city acquired great fame, and the history of flamenco has written long and hard about them, such as the Habichuela family, the Mayas, the Amayas, the Coneja, Manolete, Mario Maya, and a long etcetera.
In this article we intend to collect some of the artists who were forgotten by flamenco or who were not so famous at the time, but who were just as important for flamenco in general and for Granada in particular.
Maria La Gazpacha
María 'La Gazpacha' was born in the Albaicín in 1902 and died in September 1961 in the same neighborhood of Granada. Coming from a prominent family of flamenco artists, the Amaya family, she was the daughter of Fernando Amaya and niece of Juan, Trinidad, Encarnación and Pepe Amaya. She was also the sister of Paca and Pepa 'Las Gazpachas', and mother of Nati and Carmela. Her extended family included nephews and nieces such as Miguelones, el Pillín, la Pillina and la Manola, as well as cousins such as Manolo and Pepe Amaya and Trinidad la Bizca.
From an early age, María entered the world of flamenco, and at the age of 20 she participated in the First Cante Jondo Contest in 1922, where she stood out and won a prize for her interpretation of bulerías and tarantas. Her talent led her to participate in the play 'El niño de oro' with Aurora Redondo and Valeriano León, in the presence of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia. During the performance, the queen mother, Doña Cristina, called María 'La Gazpacha' to the royal box and asked her how the snails drawn on the face were made. With her characteristic wit, Maria replied: 'With saliva we stick them on, your majesty'. This witticism made the kings laugh, leaving a lasting impression.
In 1929, María won the first prize for saetas at the Barcelona Exposition. Later, she shared the stage with legendary figures such as Pastora Imperio and Carmen Amaya in the film 'Marta de la O', where she performed alegrías and zambra songs. Her talent led her to perform in prestigious Cafés Cantantes in Spain, such as Café de Chinitas in Malaga and La Montillana in Granada. She also had the honor of singing for the kings of Sweden and for George V and his wife at the Carmen de los Rodríguez Acosta.
In addition to her outstanding artistic career, Maria was known for her funny sayings and anecdotes. On one occasion, while she was sleeping at home, the painting of the Virgen de las Angustias that was placed above her bed fell and caused a head injury. When the neighbors of Sacromonte asked her what had happened to her, María answered with humor: 'La Virgen de las Angustias me ha 'herío''. She also performed in the play 'Martinete' by Álvarez de Cienfuegos in Madrid, in 1936, with the assistance of figures such as Fernando de los Ríos and the Pasionaria.
María 'La Gazpacha' continued to participate in the zambra of her cousin Manolo Amaya until an advanced age. She mastered the pandero and palmas in an exceptional way, in addition to dancing bulerías like no one else. She continued to perform at numerous flamenco events, such as the First Granada Music and Dance Festival in 1952, where she had the honor of performing for personalities such as the King and Queen of Jordan, Eva Perón, Falla and Zuloaga. Ángel Barrios even hired her to sing at the Palace of Carlos V with La Niña de los Peines.
María García Cortés Campos, known as 'La Primera Golondrina', was born in Sacromonte in 1843 and died at the end of the thirties in Granada. From her beginnings, she stood out as a dancer in the well-known Zambra del Cujón. Her talent led her to cross borders, performing at the London International Exhibition and at the Paris Exhibition of 1889 with the well-known Zambra de los Amaya.
An outstanding milestone in his career was his performance for King Alfonso XIII at the inauguration of the prestigious Palace Hotel in Granada. José Carlos de Luna, in his book 'Gitanos de la Bética', recounts a memorable event that took place during the 1922 Cante Jondo Contest. In the Amaya caves, in the presence of personalities such as Antonio Chacón, Ramón Montoya and La Argentina, who worked in a theater in the city, La Golondrina dazzled everyone with her soleá dancing. La Argentina, one of the most outstanding dancers of that time, expressed her admiration by saying: 'If I could offer the public what this gypsy is giving us, I would feel fully satisfied'. Later it was learned that this gypsy was 'La Golondrina', an extraordinary dancer who captivated the public of the cafés cantantes at the end of the 19th century. La Golondrina' was considered one of the best dancers in Granada in her time, shining especially in the interpretation of soleares and seguirillas.
Born in the Albaicín in 1939 and died in the Zaidín in 1981, she was one of the most important flamenco artists in Granada. From a very young age, at 9 years old, she began to dance in the Amaya's zambra, forming an artistic couple with Paco Amaya. Together with José Greco, in 1953, she toured America and Europe, accompanied by outstanding artists such as Juan Maya, Bienvenido Maya, her grandfather Manuel and her uncle Juan 'El Ovejilla' on guitar. They performed in cities such as Philadelphia, New York and Washington, receiving praise from the American press, with Gracia being described as 'the most interesting and vibrant figure in José Greco's show'.
Gracia also collaborated with the renowned singer Valderrama in the film 'El rey de la carretera' in 1956, directed by Juan Fortuny. In addition, together with Valderrama, he thrilled the audience at the Teatro Victoria in Madrid by reciting a poem by García Lorca, leaving the theater on its feet. With Paquita Rico's company, he toured Spain sharing his flamenco art. He participated in the film 'Tremolina' directed by Ricardo Núñez in 1957 and in 1966, he shone in the film 'The Return of the Magnificent Seven' directed by Burt Kennedy. As a first figure, he performed at the Sala de Fiestas de La Parrilla del Alcázar and at the prestigious Corral de la Morería.
Gracia del Sacromonte toured Mexico and Canada with Joaquín Fajardo, Marote and Chiquito de Osuna. Her beauty also captivated painters and photographers, who chose her as a model on numerous occasions. She acted in the films 'La cicatriz' by Pedro Lazaga in 1969 and 'Fortunata y Jacinta' in 1970.
A memorable episode in Sacromonte is said to have occurred during a Zambra performance in the city's prison, when Gracia recited a poem by Manuel Benítez Carrasco about Federico García Lorca, triggering a riot among the prisoners.
Gracia del Sacromonte was the daughter of Paco el Quero and Gracia Hidalgo, granddaughter of Manuel 'El Ovejilla' and grandniece of Juan 'El Ovejilla'. She married Domingo, Greco's nephew and renowned bailaor, with whom she had a son who continued his artistic legacy.
Gracia was an exceptional artist who, unfortunately, did not have the luck she deserved. With a big heart and dazzling beauty, she possessed an amazing talent for singing, dancing and recitation. Her life was cut short prematurely in her beloved Granada, just as she had wished.
Chata de la Jampona or La Cotorrera
Chata de la Jampona, also known as La Cotorrera, was born in 1850 and died in Sacromonte in 1940. From her beginnings, she stood out as a dancer in the renowned Zambra de Cujón and later in that of the Amaya brothers. Her talent led her to cross borders, performing in London and at the Paris Opera in the successful play 'Carmen' by Bisset and in 'Andalusia in the time of the Moors'. Several historians who visited Granada praised the art of La Jampona, and in the book 'Don Gitano' she is mentioned as the 'Lady of the Mountain'. She had the honor of dancing before the kings of Spain, Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII, as well as before King George V of England. Renowned painters such as Rodríguez Acosta, Borquet or López Mezquita immortalized her figure in their works.
Chata de la Jampona performed with Cujón's zambra in several tributes in Granada, including the one offered to the famous bailaor Calabacino. She also participated with the Zambra de los Amaya in the 1922 Concurso de Cante Jondo, where she dazzled with her interpretation of the soleares de arcas. La Chata de la Jampona, along with La Golondrina, was considered one of the greatest exponents of flamenco dancing in Granada in her time. She remained in the Zambra de los Amaya until her death at the age of 90.
His artistic legacy also extended to the cinema, where he participated in films such as 'El Dorado' and 'Pepita la Gitana'. He also excelled in plays such as 'El niño de oro' by José María Granada and in 'Martinete' by Álvarez Cienfuegos, presented in Madrid.
Maria La Carajarapa
María 'La Carajarapa', born 1917 in the Albaicín, and died in November 1995, left an indelible mark on the world of flamenco in Granada. From her beginnings, she stood out as a cantaora in renowned zambras, such as that of La Coja, Manolo Amaya or La Golondrina. Her talent transcended to the big screen, participating in films such as 'María de la O' and 'Forja de almas'. He also recorded fandangos del Albaicín in the album produced by the Zambra de los Amaya, consolidating his presence in the music scene.
In 1934, Maria joined Vicente Escudero's company and performed in major cities such as Paris, Biarritz and New York with the play 'Amor brujo'. In the film Carmen de Rosi, Maria played the role of Enrique el Cojo's wife, leaving a lasting impression on the film industry. Mother of the well-known dancer from Granada, Mariquilla, she performed with her in the flamenco tablaos she ran, such as Jardines de Neptuno in Granada or El Jaleo in Torremolinos. She also accompanied her on a tour of Germany, performing works such as 'El Sacromonte y yo', created by Mariquilla.
In addition, he participated in several shows, such as Curro Albaicín, and acted in the film 'Amor brujo' directed by Saura. He also left his mark in renowned flamenco events, such as the Madrid Flamenco Summit and the Biennial of Seville and Cordoba. In Granada, he performed at the most prominent venues such as the Palacio de Congresos and the Teatro Isabel la Católica. His talent was also captured in recordings for television programs, leaving testimony of his art for generations to come.