MIGUEL PASTOR DE LOS SANTOS “EL GITANO DE BRONCE”
Was born in 1944 in El Puerto de Santa Maria (Cadiz, Spain). This singer belongs to the house of the Agujetas, nephew of “Agujeta El Viejo” and the first cousin of Manuel de los Santos Pastor “Agujetas”, a dynasty of great artists like Rubichi, Fedeitos or El Chaqueton. Since Miguel was very young he worked as a blacksmith, like his whole family who were dedicated to this art, being a great specialist in artistic forging. Miguel also groomed horses.
Also known as “El Gitanillo de Bronce”, Miguel’s career in singing is quite vast, starting when he was seventeen years at the Tablao La Perla de San Sebastián. In 1963 he met Manolo Caracol who enrolled him in his theatre company and toured throughout Andalusia with Enrique Caracol, Luisa Ortega, Arturo Pavón, Juan de los Santos “El Gordo Agujetas” and Melchor de Marchena, among other artists. He is well known amongst the most outstanding artists of Flamenco song for singing with incredible purity.
He traveled to New York (USA) several times, where he performed with this cousin Manuel Agujetas, touring nightclubs and cabarets during a long period of time. Together they have also sung in California and other cities and states of the United States, where they reaped great success. In addition, Miguel has a special relationship with Japan, where he has continued to perform in various shows, from the mid-70s to the present.
“El Gitanillo de Bronce” is a singer from the purest school of Tomás Pavón, Manuel Torre, Juan Talega, Juaniquín, and others. He also has his unique style and sings with great skill and style.
Composer of his own lyrics, he has recorded twenty-three LPs. In 1976 Miguel was hired by Euromusic and recorded cassette tapes with the flamenco singer Isabel Frías, with whom he has a deep friendship.
He performed at San Juan Envagelista School in Madrid in a flamenco recital together with José Menese. He performed in clubs, like the one of the Chaquetón and the Burrero, together with his cousin Manuel Agujetas. He also participated in festivals with: Gabriel Moreno, El Gordo Agujeta, José El Negro, Antonio El Chocolate, El Tío Borrico, Juan Barea, El Chato de la Isla, Paco Toronjo, Enrique Morente and Antonio Mairena, among others. He worked in Cueva Nemesio, in Madrid, with Paco Toronjo and Porrina de Badajoz.
Miguel has received several flamenco prizes, one of which was winning First Prize of Cante Flamenco de Parla (Madrid) at a festival organized by the Spanish Communist Party in 1985.
He started his own businesses such as selling clothing and typewriters and opening flamenco tablaos and bars. As a gambling aficionado, he played the lottery and bought a house in his town of Rota (Cádiz) where he opened a florist’s shop.
In 2002 he recorded a CD along with his cousins Paco and Diego Agujetas, and Chiaki Horikoshi, accompanied by Manuel Parrilla on the guitar and produced by Shun Morita and Daisuke Misu.
El Gitanillo de Bronce’s companion José María Ruiz Fuentes says that he has a pure, gypsy, clear and very flamenco voice, which he draws from the depths of his soul. Today he continues to spread his songs everywhere, so that he can continue to savor his art and not lose the purity that this great singer holds in his body.
Deeply rooted in his land he continues to sing in flamenco clubs like that of his uncle El Viejo Agujeta (Rota, Cádiz), Los Cernícalos (Jerez, Cádiz) amongst others and national and international festivals.
ANA MARÍA LÓPEZ
Felix Grande, the renowned poet and flamencologist, dedicated a few words to Ana Maria that could summarize the career trajectory of this dancer: “An artist from her hands to her face, from the hair to the feet. With my gratitude because you just showed us what you love about flamenco. ”
Ani was born in “La Plazuela” — a neighborhood where flamenco doyens such as Manuel Torre, Don Antonio Chacón, La Paquera and Manuel Agujetas emerged. Being amongst such figures was her first real flamenco school. Formally, Ana María López (Ani) studied music and classical dance at the Municipal Conservatory of Jerez, with teacher Isabelita Ruiz and Flamenco Dance with the Parrilla family.
Ani worked with singer Manolo Sevilla and has shared the stage with artists such as Terremoto, La Perla de Cádiz, Chano Lobato, the Rubichi family…
In 1975 she opened her first dance academy, and began to work as a teacher at the Peña de los Cernícalos where she still teaches classes, through which more than 3 generations have passed. In addition, for decades, she has been invited to teach dance courses in European countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, as well as Japan, USA, Canada and multiple cities in the Iberian Peninsula.
Ani has created dance groups such as “Semilla Flamenca (Flamenco Seeds)”, with which she has performed for various flameco clubs in Andalusia, including the Fiesta de la Bulería and the Flamenco Nochebuena at the Teatro Villamarta. With the show “Esa forma de vivir“, directed by Manuel Morao with artists such as Moraíto Chico, Niño Jero, Ana Parrilla, Manuel Moneo, Juan Moneo El Torta, etc., Ani performed at the Mont de Marson Festival and at the Palacio de Congresos de la UNESCO in Paris (France). With her show “Arco de Santiago” she won the Demófilo Award for the best flamenco show, awarded by the Machado Foundation (Seville). Recently the Federation of Flamencology has conferred upon Ana María “La Copa de Jerez” for her extensive teaching.
Ani has recorded numerous programs for TVE (El Flamenco in Las Peñas), Canal Sur TV (La puerta del cante y Cavilaciones), Localia, Onda Jerez TV, NHK National Chain (Japan), TV Comarcal de Lille (France), etc.
Aya was born in Hamamatsu. Copying her older sister, she wanted to take piano class at 4 years old. At the age of 9 she lived in Sao Paolo (Brazil) and at16 years old she lived in Rome (Italy) where she studied with classmates from different countries.
She returned to Tokyo and studied languages at the University of Tokyo of the Foreign Languages where she signed up for classes at a Flamenco dance club. Her father bought a record of Lole and Manuel on a trip to Spain and this encounter with this music later changed her life. She fell in love with flamenco and began studying cante. She dedicated her time singing flamenco for dance in the tablaos in Tokyo for more than 10 years while she went to Andalucia to study cante with several renowned teachers.
At the age of 32, Aya and her husband Jose Manuel Montiel from Sanlucar de Barrameda welcomed their son Ciro. Shortly thereafter she decided to live in Jerez de la Frontera to continue her studies. Apart from organizing dance courses and flamenco concerts in Japan with the Jerez artists, she continues to study and perform flamenco piano along with cante.
ANTONIO DE LOS SANTOS BERMÚDEZ “EL MONEA”
Palmero (percussionist using intricate hand clapping) who comes from a great lineage, “El Monea” is the brother of the renowned and also deceased singer Diego Rubichi, son of the legendary Domingo Rubichi who was one of the most important pillars of the La Plazuela song and nephew of Viejo Agujetas.
First cousin of Miguel Pastor “El Gitanillo de Bronce” and of Manuel Agujetas, El Monea always frequented the flamenco environments of the city, in many occasions became an authentic “ambassador” of Jerez for the many tourists who have passed through that land.
Much loved in the neighborhood of San Miguel, Antonio became a fundamental part of compas (rhythm) in almost all the flamenco events of Jerez: in the Fiesta de la Bulería, Viernes Flamenco, in the peñas (clubs) or other festivals, and together with Chusco and El Cabrero, lived his golden age as a palmero in the eighties and nineties.
GARY HAYES “GERARDO ALCALÁ”
New Orleans born Flamenco guitarist Gerardo Alcala is one of the few foreigners to be respected as a full-fledged Flamenco artist by the gypsy Flamencos of Andalucia, among whom he lived the authentic Flamenco lifestyle for many years. He learned his art from the masters: Rafael el Aguila, Parrilla de Jerez, Niño Jero, Rafael Alarcón, Eduardo de la Malena, and Pedro Bacan. In the intimate closed-door sessions, or Juergas, where the pure sould of Flamenco, el Duende, can surge forth in all its savage beauty, he has spent countless hours accompanying great gypsy singers such as Agujetas, Gitano de Bronce, El Garbanzo, El Monea, Salmonete, Chato de la Isla, Dolores, Antonio, Luis, Diego, El Gordo, and Paco Agujetas, and many others.
He has performed professionally in major theatres on three continents, including Carnegie Hall, as well as for television, radio and film. In the U.S. he toured extensively with the Spanish dance companies of Jose Molina and Teo Morca and did many recitals with the legendary Anzonini del Puerto. In Spain he performed with the all-gypsy company of Fernanda Romero and has had particularly long and close relationship with the Agujetas family, including Manuel Agujetas, who has preserved the deepest and purest singing in Spain. With them, he was featured as sole accompanist in the prestigious Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid and the Dutch film “Duende”.
In 1990 he was honoured to become the first North American ever to be contracted to perform as a soloist in the Bienal de Sevilla, Spain’s most important Flamenco Festival. In 1998 he accompanied Luis Agujetas on his CD “Entre tu Tierra Y La Mia”. In 2000, he appeared accompanying Luis, Diego, and Paco Aguetas in the film “El Turista Soy Yo”. In 2002 he was first guitarist at Mexico’s most important tablao “gitanerias” and did a tour of Spain and France accompanying the singer, Dolores Agujetas.
Gerardo performs both as a solo guitarist and with his group, Flamenco Alcala, (a singer and one or two dancers). He is based in Vancouver, BC.
“María Cala” was born as Manuel Cala in 1944 in the neighborhood of San Miguel de Jerez.
He was the dressing room assistant during Lola Flores’ early career at the Villamarta Theater in Jerez. Lola “The Pharaoh” was Maria Cala’s her great passion.
María Cala is the living testimony of the golden age of the copla. Cala is known throughout the province because her life experiences contain authentic stories, because she has inherited Lola Flores’ temperament and because she has elegance, grace and an immense talent for storytelling.
He lived in Paris for a few years, and worked as a butler in some of the richest houses in Madrid and served decadent nobility. However, his experiences from this chapter for his life has ended up in silence rather than in his storytelling.
He was an artist and promoter of shows where he mixed interpretation, real-life stories narrated with humor, dance and singing, among other elements. In addition, he participated in radio and television programs.
Because he is openly homosexual, many of his stories narrate the complexities of a very difficult time during the Franco dictatorship of post-war Spain, where taboo and hypocrisy reigned in the consciousness of people. But with a song and a dance anyone could temporarily be cured of the effects of such repression.
María Cala is a well-known and well-loved character in all of Cádiz, Andalucia and Spain.
ALI DE LA TOTA
He has performed for over twenty years as a palmero for flamenco legends such as Fernando Moreno, El Capullo, Aurora Vargas, Chano Lobato, Jorge Pardo, Rancapino, Diego and Eva Rubichi. His great knowledge and passion for flamenco songs make him an impeccable percussionist.
Like his brother Luis, Ali inherited his stage name from his grandmother “La Tota“, who influenced and inspired them from his childhood. Born into a legendary family related to several flamenco dynasties such as Rubichi, Carrasco, Peña, Bermúdez and Vargas, he not only dedicates himself to art as a profession but as a way of life. It is not difficult to find Ali singing in tabancos, at parties, weddings, baptisms, zambombas (a very typical jerezano Christmas celebration) because flamenco is part of his daily life, not only on stage.
When he is not performing as a palmero or singing in Europe, Japan or the Americas, Ali is dedicated to maintaining the flamenco flame as one of the guardians of the Don Antonio Chacón Cultural Center.
RICHARD BLACK “EL QUIJOTE”
El Quijote was born in the United States and spent his youth in California. He was always a musician because of the influence of his parents who sang in the opera.
At the age of 20, he left his career as a singer of folk music from his homeland and dedicated himself to flamenco, initially playing the guitar and then singing as well. He has been dedicated to his artistic career in flamenco for over forty-five years.
He went on stage for the first time in 1970, playing with dance companies in Los Angeles (USA). Quixote had to play and sing at the same time, because there were few singers in Los Angeles at that time.
Because of his family responsibilities, he could not come to study flamenco in Spain, so he had to learn from other aficionados and with unpublished recordings of private parties in Morón de la Frontera, given to him by his friends. Among them were those of Juan Talega, Manolito de la Maria, Fernanda de Utrera, Perrate de Utrera and Antonio Mairena. One can hear the echoes of these great singers in Quijote’s cante.
He came to Spain for the first time in 1983 and henceforth visited every year during his holidays. He began to interact with artists and amateurs of cante. His knowledge of cante was recognized by the aficionados, and in 1991 he was hired to sing at the Flamenco Art Biennial in Seville, earning good reviews. Since then, he spent all his vacations in Spain until he retired from his profession as a designer, in 2006.
He currently lives in Rota (Cádiz), developing his art in the peña (flamenco club) of Rota and performing on TV, in festivals and in other flamenco clubs.
He is closely associated with members of the Agujetas dynasty, attending their gatherings and sharing in baptisms, weddings …