Sordera and Family in Conversation

Web original  London, 1999, 3,000 words; extracts  

Sordera de Jerez was one of Jerez's great masters of cante. One hot August afternoon he sat down with me to talk about his music, and his brother Sordera Chico and son Vicente Soto Sordera came too. It was a rare chance to talk to a family which has helped to define flamenco song - and is still doing so.

V: Do some flamenco styles attract you more than others?

Manuel (Sordera): Of course. I sing the seguiriya every day, sitting down so as not to lose my balance. I have diabetes and my heart isn't strong, but my voice is good. I sing Paco la Luz's seguiriya - he was my grandfather's uncle. I’ve sung it all my life.

V: Where do you think flamenco is moving today?

Sordera: Well, it's a good thing that so many people like flamenco today, but its purity is getting lost. Of course it won't be entirely lost because it's recorded, but nevertheless a lot is being lost. A lot of young singers out there may have a record on the market but believe me, they cannot even clap. And believe me, there are a lot of cantaores who don't sing in compás. They aren't properly prepared.

Vicente: My father means that a lot of young artists are encouraged to rush their careers instead of taking it step-by-step. Singing for dance, for example, is important because it teaches you a sense of rhythm, it broadens your repertoire, it teaches you how to work with other performers.

Sordera: And flamenco needs a lot of heart and feeling. But there are a lot of cantaores who have nothing inside, you hear them sing and it doesn't touch you. The singer with something inside them gives you repeluzco.

Sordera Chico: That shiver.


Vicente: The tablaos were such good places for learning the full repertoire of flamenco.

Sordera: Around 1955 the tablaos began to appear, just after the salas de fiesta. I worked in the first one, El Guajiro, in Seville in 1958. The show was two hours long with good flamenco - the performers were artists like El Moro [Indio Gitano], Manolete, Farruco, Rafael Negro, Matilde Corral, and maybe another ten or fifteen girls dancing. 

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