Antonio Mairena Part 1
Antonio Cruz García was a singer who was born in Mairena de Alcor (Seville) on the 7th September 1909, and he is among the greatest and most important cantaores of all time.
Like Franconetti and Manuel Torres before him, Antonio Mairena as he was artistically named was a singer of great knowledge and affection for the orthodox styles of song.
Born of gypsy parents, Antonio grew up like so many others in the surroundings of his family’s blacksmiths, and was influenced by singers like Joaquin de la Paula and El Niño Gloria.
Antonio’s father was a good friend of these singers, as was the mighty Manuel Torre. Antonio Mairena wanted to perform in the 1922 concurso de cante but was forbid from taking part by his father due to the families lack of money and the fact that he was just thirteen years of age at the time.
In 1924 he was to appear on stage for the first time at a competition that was held in Alcalà de Guardaira and he won first prize in the siguiriya and soleà section.
At the early stages of his career he was known as Niño de Rafael but by 1930 he had become El Niño de Mairena. He dabbled with the flamenco opera but this was not for him and Antonio Mairena dedicated his efforts to the festivals that were held in Seville’s Alemèda de Harcules district, which at that time was the center of flamenco activity.
He was approached by the great dancer Carmen Amaya to accompany her on a tour of America but Antonio declined the offer to stay in Seville, although he did accompany her on other occasions when she returned to Spain after her tour.
He became much in demand by the flamenco dancers because of his enormous command of the rhythm and his profound knowledge of the flamenco song. He appeared with Pastora Imperio in Madrid and also toured with Antonio el Bailarin, which gave him the recognition that would eventually receive him the honour of being awarded the third coveted Llave de Oo del Cante. ( The Golden Key of Flamenco Singing)
He was awarded the Golden key in 1962, and unlike El Nitri or Manuel Vallejo, whom many believe were not justified in receiving this achievement, Mairena was awarded this trophy for his outstanding affection for cante, his contribution to the art of flamenco, and of course his amazing ability as a singer.