Her voice is the living history of flamenco. Lole Montoya is the present, past and future of music in Spain. When Lole sings, the soul is moved and the heart beats stronger. Her voice is the living history of the art, which has marked several generations. Singer or cantaora, she doesn’t really need any definition. She performs with mastery, with feeling, with gypsy roots and has a great technique too. She adapts to the style that her spirit wants to express at any given moment. Lole’s repertoire is wide-ranging, and includes songs that form part of the national and international collective memory, such as those of the historic duo ‘Lole y Manuel’ (which she formed for decades with her husband Manuel Molina). She also sings compositions by Manuel de Falla, fundamental pieces from Lole’s own solo discography, and she also delves into the gospel style, including classics by Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, or Sarah Vaughan among others, without forgetting her flamenco roots. Lole’s musical legacy does not end with her, but continues with her daughter, the renowned singer Alba Molina. Lole Montoya will be accompanied in this recital by Juan Carmona ‘El Camborio’, guitarist, son of Habichuela and founding member of Ketama, and by Paco Vega, a young and experienced international percussionist.
EXCLUSIVE ‘24/7 VALENCIA’ INTERVIEW WITH ‘LOLE MONTOYA’
24/7 VALENCIA: It was groundbreaking ‘New flamenco’ for the time. What does ‘Lole y Manuel’ mean for you?
LOLE MONTOYA: Well, a long time has passed since then! Of course, I do have special memories of that time. On top of that, I continue to like Arabic music. Also, I still like bulerias and musical orchestrations and a chorus of voices too.
What is the connection with Arabic music and Flamenco for you?
All of the family of my mother was from Oran in Algeria. However, all of my grandparents and great-grandparents were gypsies from Andalusia. My mother’s family would sing gypsy songs but also sing songs from Morocco and so on. That is the Arabic connection. They are influences that I have kept. Flamenco is clearly related to Arabic music. I have been singing in Arabic since I was 12 years old.
What does Flamenco mean to you?
Flamenco is a music that I always heard at home since I was little. The rhythm and beat and the feeling comes from the gypsies. They have ‘palos’ like soleares, siguiriyas, bulerias and tangos that the gypsies do in their own particular way. Like with Arabic music and Blues music and Jazz music…the sound comes from the originators of each genre.
The beauty of it all is that each country has a music that comes from within; it is something that you are born with. It also goes for the types of music and clothes and the cuisine of each particular country. Look at India, for example. Indian music is something that I have loved for a very long time.
Flamenco is ‘Cante Gitano’ athough it has many influences. I want to be clear that I’m not trying to distance or divide or separate one person from the other. It’s quite the opposite, as we all live in peace here in Andalusia…wherever we are from. I believe that Paco de Lucia defined what flamenco is very well. He was a sensitive person and he had grown up amongst gypsies. He played bulerias very well, which is not an easy thing to do at all. Today in flamenco, you can have different and new influences… like types of percussion and the mixing of melodies…. but it is the roots of flamenco that will always endure and remain.
Your voice is really distinctive as a singer…
It comes from my mother’s side of the family. She was also a singer (‘La Negra’). On both sides of the family, my parents had a way of expressing themselves and to feel things that was special and funny and it had ‘gracia.’ Also, the way that they sang and felt the rhythm of the music was distinctive too.
How do you look after own voice?
I do exercises, I sing and I sip honey (‘miel de esencias’) too. I’m also careful about the air-conditioning, for example.
Congratulations for being awarded ‘la Medalla al Mérito en las Bellas Artes’ very recently…
Thank you very much. However, it has to be said (with kindness) that it is actually that the public continues to recognize me for the music…that is what really means more to me.
Your most recent solo album ‘Metáfora’ was impressive and you are in great voice too. Can we expect a new album from you soon?
I have new recordings but there is no funding from record companies or production companies so I’m having to do it all myself.
What can we expect of your show in Valencia?
We will be playing what the public likes from our repertoire plus a few new things. I like Gospel music so we’ll do some Gospel too and we’ll be playing some ‘alegrias’ and more…
Interview by Will McCarthy
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