Lots of garbage and ignorance
One thing is to be an artist, having a great personality and being at ease on stage, and quite another is to be a good cantaor or cantaora. Is that not clear yet, after more than two centuries of this art being in the public scene?
Although it may seem as if we know it all, the truth is that we barely know anything about flamenco, regarding its origins and most of its first performers. And if those of us who have spent almost our whole lives researching flamenco barely know anything, you can only imagine how knowledgeable are those who write about this art because it has become fashionable and these days everyone has a virtual platform to speak up. It’s not surprising, then, that people get tricked and bad performers, male and female, become successful and are acclaimed as great artists. Yet, one thing is to be an artist, having a great personality and being at ease on stage, and quite another is to be a good cantaor or cantaora. Is that not clear yet, after more than two centuries of this art being in the public scene?
I’m dumbfounded when I see the glowing reviews given to Rocío Márquez — I mention her because she’s quite in vogue lately, with the release of her latest album Visto en el Jueves — while in my opinion she’s not even a good cantaora, but rather one of the blandest in our days. That has nothing to do with the fact that her albums sell well and that she has a pretty voice, although not good enough for flamenco. Technically, she leaves a lot to be desired and she doesn’t convey any emotion in the deepest palos, at least to me. I understand it’s a matter of personal tastes, but what’s objective and obvious should be above and beyond personal tastes. Why is then that cantaores like her, and she herself, are so overrated, while those who really know how to sing and have authentic flamenco depth are so underrated? Because there is so much ignorance about cante and because nowadays anybody who has a blog or write in the social networks acts as if they were subject-matter experts. Not to mention those who sell themselves to the artists, and I don’t mean getting their money.
If we don’t speak clearly once and for all, this won’t end well
Moreover, straight talking it’s not easy these days, because we end up blasted in the social networks, and that happens to me every day. The last thing that happened to me was being insulted and offended by an artist in her Facebook wall, with some of my colleagues liking the post and even praising it publicly. I know that some people resent me for daring to speak up my mind for forty years as flamenco critic, but I didn’t expect so much garbage and bad blood.
Considering this desolate landscape, I don’t know what to do anymore, whether speaking up once and for all, no matter what, or turning a blind eye like most people do, because people have to live off something, even off lies. Frankly, it’s hard for me, but I can assure you that I won’t shut up. Everyone else can do as they please and deal with their own conscience whether they want to keep supporting so much garbage like there is today in flamenco in general.
Translated by P. Young