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Lela Soto, the promise fulfilled

The series Flamenco viene del Sur hosted the Gala Concurso Talento Flamenco featuring its 2017 top winners. Flamenco viene del SurGala Concurso Talento Flamenco

By Luis M. Pérez. Seville, May 10, 2018 (Photo: Silvia Calado)

Whoever could have gone, but didn’t, missed such a great time. That was the prevailing feeling in the half-empty theater at the end of a very worthwhile show, the one offered by the top winners among the 26 artists awarded in the Concursos de Talento Flamenco 2017. Those winners got a juicy money prize and a scholarship to study in the renowned Fundación Cristina Heeren, which organized this contest together with Acciona (a Spanish-based global infrastructure conglomerate) and the Instituto Andaluz de Flamenco. Considering that attendance was free of charge (the only requirement being the entering of an e-mail address), either this event wasn’t publicized enough, or flamenco aficionados are becoming disturbingly scarce.

Baile, guitar and cante. That was the order which eventually would summon the duendes. Adrián Domínguez (b. Seville, 1991) came out dancing after Juan Reina howled por seguiriya. Adrián has good forms, we can sense in him the arms of Manolo Marín, with whom he studied for three years, and the classicism of the Conservatorio de Danza de Sevilla. With the broken verses of Juan de Mairena and the huge hands of Roberto Jaén pounding the cajón, Adrián showed elegance and a lot of future with his footwork. Farruquito’s shadow came up perhaps too often, though, in some unnecessary desplante.

Blas Martínez (b. Murcia, 1992) won the Guitarra de Acompañamiento prize in last year’s Festival de Guitarra de Córdoba, organized by the Fundación. We don’t know if that contest was tight or not, but we are sure that Blas didn’t have a good evening. He started with a clumsy granaína and his bulerías were only saved by the palmas of Alejandro Villaescusa, who is capable of resurrecting the dead with his jaleos.

Then it was the turn Rafaela Soto Heredia, the most Gypsy flamenco artist from Madrid, with deep roots in the Santiago district of Jerez, better know as Lela Soto, daughter of Vicente Soto and granddaughter of Manuel Soto El Sordera de Jerez. With her white frills dress and a silver peineta in her hair, Lela displayed a perfect command of the finest details of interaction with the public. She talked with the audience, making us smile, and we were all under her spell halfway the beautiful bambera with which she started her small recital. “I’m going to sing my family’s seguiriyas, which gave me luck to win this contest. The seguiriyas of Paco La Luz”, se announced. She stretched her voice to heaven and she swallowed the sorrow of Juanichi el Manijero for his friend Cuco (as the lyrics go), as the enthralled public felt goosebumps from the back of their necks to the back of their ears.

Lela then visited Extremadura, bringing us the tientos of that land, recalling La Marelu, then travelling to Málaga in search of La Repompa, always singing new lyrics and adding novel nuances, something which Rafaela has been working hard on. This is something praiseworthy, because it’s rather uncommon in the world of flamenco. Then came the fin de fiesta por bulerías, por La Perla de Cádiz, with a procession of lyrics from Nueva Street to Cantarería street. Nono Jero was spectacular at the guitar, contributing to the self-confidence of this cantaora who, unabated, sang for Adrián Domínguez’s traditional baile those lyrics “mi amante es pajarero, me trajo un loro” as they left the stage under the public’s frenzy.


Event notes:

Show: Gala Concurso Talento Flamenco, Fundación Cristina Heeren
Series: Flamenco Viene del Sur
Place and date: Teatro Central de Sevilla. May 8, 2018

Baile performance: Adrián Domínguez
Baile: Adrián Domínguez
Cante: Juan Reina and Juan de Mairena
Guitar: Cristian Cabello
Cajón: Roberto Jaén

Guitar performance: Blas Martínez
Guitar: Blas Martínez
Palmas: Carlos Guillén and Alejandro Villaescusa

Cante performance: Lela Soto
Cante: Lela Soto
Guitar: Nono Jero


Filólogo madrileño. Media vida en Sevilla. Centinela de las palabras. Lo jondo le acelera peligrosamente el corazón.