Leaving the flock
Cádiz is something else, it’s unique, and Palomar is a perfect example of a cantaor from Cádiz committed to his school. It’s understandable that he wants to explore other musical genres, but I don’t quite understand why he now says that we have to either evolve or give up on flamenco, just because he hasn’t been terribly successful. Flamenco has
David Palomar, born in Cádiz in 1977, is a cantaor with lots of art. Not because he’s from Cádiz, he’s just a great artist, period. He’s a good singer, too. Perhaps not as good as to be considered one of the greatest cantaores in history, but he’s a good aficionado and he is well-versed in his school, the school of Cádiz, naturally. What is the school of Cádiz? It’s the legacy of great masters of cante — El Mellizo, Paquirri, Andrés el Loro, the Ortegas, the Espeletas, Curro Dulce, Aurelio, Pericón, Manolo Vargas, La Perla, Chano… — and it’s also a particular way of conceiving life from a flamenco perspective. Cádiz is something else, it’s unique, and Palomar is a perfect example of a cantaor from Cádiz committed to his school and to that very personal way the artists of those parts have of understanding life and art.
Despite being a good cantaor and even better artist — few others are able to match his ease when performing on a stage — this master is not as highly regarded as to be considered a leading flamenco star. He makes a living off cante, but he has higher ambitions. Thus, it’s understandable that he wants to explore other musical genres and he has stated that his new album will feature a different way of singing this art form. I don’t quite understand why he now says that we have to either evolve or give up on flamenco, just because he hasn’t been terribly successful. Flamenco has been evolving for two hundred years, courtesy of many talented artists, from Silverio to El Pele, and Palomar himself is a good example of this evolution, because he has injected a new freshness to the cantes of Cádiz.
«I can only say one thing, if you allow me. Flamenco is not kind to those who leave the flock to seek a better life elsewhere»
It’s reasonable that he wants to widen its artistic horizons and try new adventures, something that most cantaores have done. Yet, this should not be the result of disappointment or frustration, but rather a product of his legitimate artistic interests. To be fair, I think he’ll have greater success with modern music than with traditional cante, and it’s a good thing he’s trying out other genres, because he has talent. It’s not easy to make a living off pure, traditional cante jondo, something few cantaores managed to achieve, and even those who succeeded had to cope with very hard times. Chacón was the king of cante and he always sang traditional palos, although he was much criticized when he started singing his new malagueñas. Manuel Torres, Tomás Pavón, Juan Talega and Mairena stuck to traditional flamenco, and all except Mairena (who was very thrifty and once won the lottery) died dirty poor.
David Palomar is free to do whatever he wants with his career, of course. He wants to make a better living off art and explore new paths, and that’s a highly respectable thing to do. Yet, I can only say one thing, if you allow me. Flamenco is not kind to those who leave the flock to seek a better life elsewhere.
Photo: David Palomar Facebook page