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Who remembers Antonio El Sevillano?

He usually sang in private gatherings only, always creating a stir with his fandangos, a style he was good at since his childhood. He was also well acquainted with the soleares de Alcalá, because of his friendship with Joaquín el de la Paula.

There was a cantaor in Seville, a good friend of mine, who few people remember today, surely because his cante was hard to emulate, having an incredible speed and a unique style. I’m referring to Antonio Pérez Guerrero El Sevillano, who was born at Macasta Street in 1909, by the San Luis neighborhood, near La Macarena, traditionally an area where good cante was always performed. Everyone born in Seville is a Sevillano of course, so why did he end up with such moniker? He actually got it in Alcalá de Guadaíra, to where he moved in his childhood, and where he became a cante aficionado. Although he was a child prodigy of flamenco, he first became a football (soccer) player and he even played for the Real Betis Balompié, a popular football team of Seville, where he was known as El Pérez. He was reportedly a fast and daring player, with lots of class. Antonio was a very good friend of Niña de los Peines and El Pinto, and he usually sang in private gatherings only, always creating a stir with his fandangos, a style he was good at since his childhood. He was also well acquainted with the soleares de Alcalá, because of his friendship with Joaquín el de la Paula, gypsy cantaor from that town, and he was also good at bulerías and cantiñas. When the Odeon label released his first records, where he was accompanied by the guitar of Niño Ricardo, they sold like hotcakes, specially because of his fandangos, as no one had ever sung like that, with his unique style. Antonio was also a great poet, and he often wrote his own lyrics. One of the things that should be done in his memory would be gathering all his lyrics in one book, and also re-editing his discography, specially from his slate records, which undoubtedly have his best tracks.

 

«A good opportunity to remember this great cantaor, with his wonderful personality, who is ignored by Seville, something that is not a surprise»

 

El Sevillano not only was a genius as a cantaor, one of those that come up every half a century, but he was also a wonderful person, having a great sense of humor. I was lucky to having been able to spend good times in his company, enjoying his wit and spark. I also witnessed his decline. The last time he sang in public was in the town of Tomares, near Seville, in 1987. Beni de Cádiz and myself helped him on stage, as he was too weak to walk. It was a tribute paid to him by the Peña Flamenca de Tomares. That night he was moved to tears, seeing the venue full of spectators and all his friends selflessly singing in his honor. One day we talked about the possibility of writing his memoirs, and I remember he told me “there are things I won’t be able to tell”. It never happened, because he died soon after, in 1989. It’s a pity, because Antonio el Sevillano knew all the greats of cante, baile and toque, rivalling many aces of cante such as Manuel Vallejo, Niño de Marchena, Manolo Fregenal, El Carbonerillo, Juanito Valderrama  and even Niña de los Peines. He was a great friend of Tomás Pavón, although he once said that the best in the family was his brother Arturo, the elder sibling. He died in 1989, so 2019 could be a good opportunity to remember this great cantaor, with his wonderful personality, who is ignored by Seville, something that is not a surprise. We don’t reproach the artists, because we know that there are masters that are hard to emulate, and one of this masters is don Antonio Pérez Guerrero, from whom we take this fandango, well suited for the occasion:

 

Te contestará.
Pregúntale a tu conciencia
y ella te contestará.
Que no tuviste clemencia
y arreglao a tu maldad
te impondrá la penitencia.

 

She’ll reply.
Ask your concience
And she’ll reply
That you had no lenience
And according to your malice
She’ll assign the penitence

 

 

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Crítico de flamenco, periodista y escritor. 40 años de investigación flamenca en El Correo de Andalucía. Autor de biografías de la Niña de los Peines, Carbonerillo, Manuel Escacena, Tomás Pavón, Fernando el de Triana, Manuel Gerena, Canario de Álora...

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