Farewell to Antonio Carmona in a big way

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Xavier Herrero |

Madrid (EFE) the melodies he was looking for and prepared his possible farewell.

“I have two albums, one live and the other studio that even I liked from what I composed, because we took a step, and it is that these five years I have waited for them because I think I had to take that step”, anticipates the musician in a conversation with EFE without giving many details.

This Sunday he will be the undisputed protagonist of an exclusive concert entitled “Antonio Carmona en familia” in which, surrounded by his family, including his daughter Marina and friends like Carlos Goñi, he will sing at the Teatro Eslava as part of the Moments of the Alhambra cycle.

“It’s the culmination of a very good year. Everyone wanted me to work and I did everything that could be done”, he rejoices before revealing that he will soon release a new single from Universal Music and “a very powerful producer in this country”.

Later, he specifies that it will be in 2023 that his live album will be released, which will be followed a year later by another with new songs. “And maybe then we said goodbye, because I’m not going to stay there all my life”, is surprised Carmona (Granada, 1965) before apologizing for dreaming of retirement: ” It’s because I started at 13 in a flamenco tablao enduring drunks! “.

Pure flamenco at Ketama

Son of the guitarist Juan Habichuela, he learned as a child the basics of pure flamenco and to distinguish perfectly a granaína or a cartagena on the nights when he would be awakened at dawn by the commotion caused in his house by Chocolate or Camarón de la Isla.

“And that’s how I started as a percussionist, playing with Camarón, Riqueni or Pata Negra. I won’t say that I sing a taranta for myself, which is something very difficult, but I accompany everything with a cajón and a guitar”, boasts this musician who, due to his father’s many trips, has also very quickly learned the music of the other side of the Atlantic..

Thus, together with his brother Juan José Carmona and his cousin Josemi Carmona, the fusion that distinguishes Ketama was born. “How did you attract the attention of a new public accustomed to hearing flamenco only in a tablao or a festival of the genre? for the introduction of electric guitars”.

“We were called heretics and that’s why from Despeñaperros we played very little”, remembers Carmona, who points to the album “Songhai” (1988), that of “Vente Pa Madrid ” with Toumani Diabaté and Danny Thompson, when they “kicked” even in Europe and attracted the attention of specialized media such as the British NME.

Archive image of a Ketama group performance in Granada. EFE / Miguel Angel Molina.

A bridge to get to know the gypsy culture better

They went from ‘not having a fan in Madrid’ to ‘crowds’ waiting for them and started recognizing them on the streets when before they weren’t even allowed to enter clubs. “I just looked…I had hair like a Cherokee and anyone who asked the time would run away,” he recalls with a laugh.

Ketama helped create gypsy references and normalize coexistence with gypsies, something artists like Los Chichos or Las Grecas had already done in the 70s. They only started inviting us to town hall receptions around the 1980s,” he says.

“I think I was an outpost to make pure flamenco known. And I am no longer fighting for myself, but for my culture, which has not yet reached many places. I would like them to say that Antonio Carmona opened up the world of flamenco a little more so that it would be better known to everyone,” he confides of his possible legacy.

Another of his future projects is part of this mission, a documentary on the gypsy culture of Europe, without thinking of other types of distinctions. “The best price is my guitars and I always get songs that people think are special,” he says.

“Because now what I love is making beautiful melodies. Fusion is no longer so much my natural habitat”, concedes this artist who released his last solo album in 2017, “Obras son amores”, a few months before a major cervical infection led him to intensive care.

This scare prompted Ketama’s brief reunion with a new tour and the 2019 reissue of “De Aki a Ketama”, which after the pandemic linked to the collaboration with vindication accents that C. Tangana did with the song “Me maten” and his participation in numerous concerts of the acclaimed “tour” of “El Madrileño”, in which his daughter Marina joined.

“I have always been touched by the wand of employment opportunities, like when Pucho came and told me to do something good, just because of the transgression that I committed, because even if I likes pure flamenco, the others have to move on”, he adds proudly. .

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