Two Grammys. Five Latin Grammy nominations. Three Musica Awards. Five Amigo Awards. One Golden Microphone. One golden voice.
Madrid-born Diego el Cigala has been enchanting music fans worldwide for years, blending his Romani Flamenco gypsy style with boleros, tangos, and even salsa. The leading voice in flamenco music will sweep Savannah Music Festival audiences away on April 2.
With a show that The New York Times once named the city’s best concert (that’s in pop, rock and jazz categories), El Cigala’s ability to summon years of cultural influence and fuse it with a deeply emotive performance has made him the world’s most in-demand flamenco singer.
We spoke with El Cigala about his storied career and what Savannah Music Festival attendees can look forward to at his Monday performance.
What’s it like sharing flamenco tradition in countries around the world?
It’s truly an honor, I never thought I would have the opportunity to take flamenco to so many places and that it was going to be so welcomed. The best part is to meet foreign musicians and discover their points of view on our music and have that musical connection between two languages.
You have sung with single piano accompaniment and with a ten-piece band—does the instrumental setup impact the style of your performance?
It’s a very different mood, when I am alone with the piano, which I’ll be for a few songs as well in Savannah, my pianist Jaime Calabuch “Jumitus” and I create a very subtle chemistry where the emotions are so present and we are fully free. When the band comes in we have to follow a structure, but the power of being backed up by them is huge.
You have collaborated with so many musicians; what are some of your most memorable collaborations over the years?
Besides from Bebo Valdés, which is obviously an important point in my career, I remember with much love the times I was on stage with Chavela Vargas in Colombia, with Salif Keita and Paco de Lucia in Spain. Gonzalo Rubalcaba on my last album “Indestructible” or my tour with Omara Portuondo. But there are so many more I want to have the chance to record or tour with.
Do you have a vocal warmup routine?
I don’t, I sing a bit before the show starts to feel how my voice is that day and I warm up on stage. I do take a lot of ginger and aloe vera warm drinks on the day on the concert. But that’s about all.
You have explored many styles of music; what are you looking forward to trying next?
I have a few projects in mind, Mexico may be there. Been planning that for years but maybe something else will catch my eye or my ear before. I want to sing with a classical orchestra as well. So much good music to get involved with...
What can Savannah Music Festival audiences expect from your performance?
Amazing musicians, the best of the Latin and Spanish music. A well-crafted show that travels through salsa, tango, bolero and flamenco. And hopefully to dance a bit and remembering the talent of the huge salsa icons we honored in this album.