ON THE BACK OF THE JACKET
Carmen Amaya and Company
Queen of the Gypsies
The Rhythms of Carmen Amaya
Not much is known about the origin of Flamenco. While the name literally means "Flemish," there is no connection between the art of Flamenco and the Belgian province of Flanders. Flamenco, in its true meaning, is the regional art of the Andalucian Gypsies. It comprises a wide variety of rhythms and melodies of a distinctly oriental flavor. Mostly the basic rhythm, is traditional, but there is ample room left for improvisation. The melodies are filled with passion, the lyrics sentimental, mostly sad, and full of deep feeling. Performed by an artist of the stature and temperament of Carmen Amaya, and accompanied by a guitarist as outstanding as sabicas, Flamenco music is exciting listening indeed.
Carmen Amaya is known as the "Queen of the Gypsies." She was born a gypsy, a true-child of the "bronze-skinned folk." She learned to sing and dance just as other children learn to walk and talk. People liked to watch her dancing when she was a child of four. Her father, himself a Flamenco guitar player, took her around to the coffee-houses other places where the Flamenco art was appreciated. Her fire, passion and charm won the public as well as the experts, wherever she went. Her first theatrical appearance caused a near-riot. Her fame spread, the newspapers talked about little "Carmelilla Amaya," and compared her to the greatest Flamenco artists Spain had produced.
At the 1929 Barcelona World´s Fair she cast her spell over an international audience. From then on, she was a star. She went on to Paris, all shared the stage with Raquel Meller. From Paris, still in her teens, she went touring the European and South American capitals.
She appeared first in the United States in 1942, just twenty years old, and was an instant success. The critics called her tempestuous, whirlwind display the most exciting dancing ever seen in New York. Shortly thereafter, she made her Broadway debut in Ed Wynn's musical revue "Laugh, Town, Laugh," sharing the plaudits with Ed Wynn and Jane Froman. Then came an exceedingly successful tour of the country´s leading concert halls and supper clubs. In 1944 she went to Hollywood and made two films. Since then Carmen Amaya has appeared in every country of Latin America, Europe, and North Africa. She received a warm ovation from Winston Churchill, and her command performance for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House was one of the highlights of her career.
Among Spanish Flamenco guitarists, the name of Sabicas is synonymous with the purest traditional style and the highest degree of virtuosity. Born in Pamplona, the capital of Navarra, in 1917, Sabicas began to play the guitar as a child of five. Without any formal studies or instruction, he became so proficient that, at the age of eight, he gave his first public performance in Pamplona. Just three years later, as a boy of eleven won a prize in a nation-wide contest in Madrid.
In 1937 he, formed his own Company and toured through South America. In 1942, Carmen Amaya
chose him for her first tour of the United States, and for five years Sabicas worked with
her and disked shared her triumphs on Broadway and in Hollywood. Then he returned Mexico,
where he makes his home, giving concerts in the Latin Capitol and working in a number of
films. At present, he is Carmen Amaya solo guitarist and arranger, touring with her company in
the United States.
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The Rhythms of Carmen Amaya
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