A museum in San Fernando (Cadiz) to honour late flamenco singer Camaron de la Isla has thrown the artist into the spotlight three decades after his death.

Camaron de la Isla is, experts claim, an essential name to know if you are to understand the flamenco music of the second half of the 20th century.

Jose Monje Cruz, the seventh of eight siblings, owed his name to an uncle who compared him to a shrimp (camaron) because of his thinness, blond hair and white skin. 

And the city of San Fernando is located on the island of Leon, also known as La Isla, hence the second part of his name.

Camaron
The late flamenco singer Camaron de la Isla

His fans say that through the timbre of his voice he managed to transmit themes of desolation, as well as energy and feeling.

He was considered by many a child prodigy – one of the places he frequented most when a child was the Venta Vargas, where Manolo Caracol – a renowned genius of flamenco singing – recognised his talent.

Caracol encouraged him to take part in the 1962 flamenco singing contest of the Montilla Festival which he won, thus beginning his life as a professional singer leaving his childhood behind him for good.

In 1968 he began to expand and renew his musical language, and from 1979 onwards he intensified his efforts to make flamenco art more accessible to the general public.

His record La leyenda del tiempo is, among his nineteen LP’s, the most remarkable due to its great innovation and sealed his reputation as a leader of modern flamenco music.

From 1976 onwards he took part in several shows abroad in the company of many other important artists, with one of his most important concerts the one in Montreux (Switzerland) in 1991, as it happened a year before his death.

Camaron playing Soy Gitano at Montreux

One of the people who accompanied this flamenco genius in at the concert was El Pele, a singer from Cordoba who worked with international artists such as Prince andDavid Bowie. 

In 1990, the great David Bowie listened to a record by El Pele and was so impressed by his art that he decided to use him as support at his concerts in Madrid and Barcelona.

During his lifetime Camaron received some of the most important awards in the flamenco world: The Golden Key of flamenco singing in 2000 (posthumously) and a Gold Record in 1989 for one of his best hits Soy gitano, the best selling record in the history of flamenco.

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