Category — Flamenco Singer Samuel Serrano
Last year, at four in the morning in a roadside venta called the Templo Flamenco, near the seaport town of Chiclana, I heard a guy sing. I thought he was one of the finest flamenco singers I’d ever heard. I also realized that he might still be singing great flamenco sixty years from now, when I was a hundred and thirty-two, which was a great relief.
His name is Samuel Serrano. He is the real deal. Important people are working to give him the success he deserves, without pushing too far too fast. (He was accompanied by the great Paco Cepero, who’s involved in the effort.)
I don’t know this kid, but he just friended me on Facebook. I was delighted. His Facebook page included an article from the online publication La Flamenca. (url is below.) The English robotranslation left much to be desired, though mine does, too. But here’s a version:
Flamenco Que Viene [Up-and-Coming Flamenco]: Samuel Serrano
Born in the town of Chipiona in 1994, and now singing with a well-aged voice that can never be forgotten, Samuel Pimentel Serrano is one of our great hopes in the realm of the most traditional flamenco song.
His background says it all – the blood the the Agujetas family of Jerez de la Frontera flows in his veins, in his bitter laments, and his ending cadences – Gypsy singing “puro y duro” (pure and hard/straight up) is one of the key identifiers of this young singer who is not yet 20 and already has a bright path ahead.
His throat seems fatigued from suffering, weathered in the Gypsy forges that no longer exist, and in the fields with the now-vanished workers; it is dark and imbued by his lineage (“raza”); there is no better credential for Samuel Serrano. Close your eyes when he sings, and you recall Juan Talega, El Chocolate, Terremoto and Antonio Mairena [all immortal Gypsy giants of song]. Are we exaggerating? No more than we’re telling the truth.
His goals are no different than those of other good artists who want to make their mark, stride slowly and firmly, learn from the great professionals, and seek the counsel of wise elders such as his artistic godfather, Paco Cepero, who has discovered other great voices within the tradition of the Cádiz area.
His vocal lament has dramatic shades, and his torn voice seems quite at odds with his youth; rather, it is an ageless voice trapped in an adolescent’s body. And beyond that, it dares to enter the domain of the most challenging forms of flamenco. Its supple ease in the [fiendishly difficult] siguiriyas, its purity in the [crucial ] soleá, its flavor in the [storming, driving] bulerías, its wisdom in the [bleak, barren] martinetes, its sheer skill in the [gripping, dramatic] fandangos. It dominates all the flamenco styles, and despite its broken quality it is agile and flexible.
Inevitably, one is struck by its “agujeteo” – its kinship with the voices of others in his family [notably Manuel Agujetas, the paradigm of emotive Gypsy singing]. Then there’s the trademark aspect of Jerez, the great bastion of the Gypsy tradition; and his love of pure song that is done “por derecho” [“by right”, or expressed from within the tradition and its heritage]. With Samuel Serrano, aficionados have one of the veins that nourish the heart of the singing tradition; vocal command in a voice that already emerges scathed and hurt, that contains the black sounds and the immaculate, well-aged purity of the timeless tradition that is embodied within him.
He has already performed in key sites like the seafront Baluarte [bulwark] of Cádiz, accompanied by the guitarist Niño Pura, on Canal Sur TV, Spanish National Radio, in Madrid and teaching Master Classes alongside his godfather Paco Cepero in the Festival de la Yerbabuena that he recalls with pleasure.
Wherever he goes, he makes is mark. His listeners seem to be transported through time, returned to an era quite different from our own, imbued with the essence of good song, of a rich heritage and of the bright hope that his youth lets us feel though the magic that he dispenses. Samuel Serrano: darkness turned to light.
End of translation.
Remember the name, Samuel Serrano. Despite all his advantages, and something that looked like real charisma to me, he faces one enormous obstacle: Very few people like this great and rarefied style of flamenco song, in which terms like duele “it hurts”, hiere “it wounds” and no se aguanta “it’s unbearable”, are considered high praise. The original article is at:
December 28, 2013 No Comments