Terremoto was another famed singer to come from the Barrio Santiago district of Jerez de la Frontera.
Fernando Fernández Monje was born in 1934, in the very heart of old Jerez and he was related to some of the most illustrious members of the gypsy community that lived there.
Terremoto’s relations include Tia Juana la del Pipa, El Sordera, and El Borrico, a singer who was born in Jerez in 1910 who had the darkest, most sorrowful voice, and an exceptional sense of rhythm.
Terromoto started as a flamenco dancer and was hired to dance in Manolo Caracol’s tablao, Los Canasteros when he was just twelve.
But it soon became clear that Terromoto was far better suited to the flamenco cante and one night at La Canasteras he instructed the guitarist to accompany him with the song and the crowd loved what they heard and showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.
He became an outstanding singer, especially with the soleá, siguiriya, and the buleria, and his powerful voz afilla had that special deep gitano style of delivery.
He made his first recording in 1958 and this gave him popularity and in 1962 he was awarded a prize in the Concurso de Cante de Jerez de la Frontera. He was also awarded the Premio Nacional de Cante by the Cátedra de Flamencologia in 1965.
Terremoto was once described “The most flamenco, and all in all, the greatest singer of his time”.
He went on to perform at many of the top tablaos in Seville, Cadiz, and Madrid, and had many honors bestowed upon him for his outstanding contribution to flamenco. He also was a regular on the festival circuit appearing at the most prestigous events during the 1970s.
He was said to have had an appalling memory and occasionally he would have someone sat in the front row ready to remind him of the lyrics.
But it was not what he sang, more how he sang it, that was important and when he sang with true passion he was someone who could produce the purest duende, ”Black sounds, which have no explanation”.
His bulerias were his specialty and when in the mood he would reveal how he came to be named The Earthquake.
His sister was another singer called Maria Soleá and she was the typical Andalucían gypsy, colorful and exciting, with deep in-lined gypsy features and a voice that could shake a building.
Terremoto died in 1981 but the streets where he was raised still remember him; a bronze bust sits close to the Iglesia de Santiago and at the far end of Calle Nueva, you will find Los Juncales, Peña Flamenca Juanito Villar. The plaque on the wall of the peña honours the clubs spiritual leader, Terremoto de Jerez and inside you will be able to indulge yourself in his legend .
Recommended viewing and listening,
Dvd. Flamenco en los archeivos de RTVE vol 4.
Cd. Flamenco vivo, Terremoto en Sevilla (Live recording)