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Vicente Amigo: Flamenco is the universal language of the soul

by - 07 February

Vicente Amigo won several flamenco guitar prizes and awards, including a Latin GRAMMY for Ciudad de Las Ideas (City of Ideas) in 2001. His latest release, Memoria de Los Sentidos, also took home a Latin Grammy and received a Grammy nomination.

He has worked with Paco de Lucía and they became close friends and godfathers to each other´s children. Amigo worked also with singers, including the great Enrique Morente and his daughter Estrella Morente, but also with artists such as Sting (on “Send Your Love” from Sting’s Sacred Love), and Brazilian jazz pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias.

How to master the universal language to touch people from everywhere in the world, is the pain a precondition for making a good art and what is to be successful  - I asked these questions the flamenco king Vicente Amigo.

Vicente, what is to be an "embajador del flamenco"? 
I am not a fan of titles and like to keep to my own business. However, I am proud of the place that hold me in and how fans perceive me. Many times they say I stray from Flamenco because of my Jazz and classical or Celtic influences. While it may be true that I enjoy other music and to explore, I am always faithful to my flamenco roots and my expression is always a flamenco one. That is something that I cannot hide because it is who I am and it is part of me. I do not have any interest or desire to hide that as I am very proud of my flamenco form of expression.

Was the music that chooses you or vice versa?
The music chooses you. I have no doubt. I was captivated by Flamenco music at a very young age even though no one in my family is a musician or even listened to a lot of flamenco. It just happened.

How the flamenco transformed you?
Flamenco is very true. Very deep. Deep sadness and deep happiness or loneliness. Flamenco music is so successful internationally because it is the most human way to express the most basic human emotions. For me to be able to communicate with people from all over the world through my guitar is an incredible feeling.

What’s your relationships with your guitar? How do you manage to extract the best of it?
I am quite tired of my guitar (hahahahaha). I have spent more time with my guitar than with anything or anyone else in my life. I go on vacation with it, take it with me everywhere I go. From a very young age, I would sit on the front steps and play as my brothers would go to parties and dances and when they would come back I would still be playing on the steps. Countless hours.
I sometimes manage to get the best but other times I get the worse and my guitar can drive me crazy!! I have often thought of adding wheels to it and making a skateboard!!

If you have to define yourself with a song or a composition, which would it be? What’s the sound of your soul?
Uff, that is a difficult question. With Flamenco it is so varied because today for example I am sitting in my house in Córdoba and it is raining and unusually cold outside. It is a relaxed day and I would say I am a Solea today. However on other days I am a Buleria!! In general I would say for whatever reasons I have more of a sad soul. More so than I would obviously like. Perhaps a Bolero is the sound of my soul.
How did you master the universal language to touch people from everywhere in the world?
By playing every single hour I was awake! Hahahaha. Now some people say that you need to invest 20,000 hours into something to perfect it or master it. I do not know the hours that I have played the guitar for but I would say for a similar amount of hours as I sleep. I play easily 4-6 hours a day now. When I was younger it was much more. I thank god every day for being able to technically express what is in my mind. That is quite a gift.

What does success mean for you?
Being able to relax. Enjoying time with your family and loved ones. This is success. I enjoy, as I am sure everyone does, recognition or awards but what I think makes someone truly successful is being able to coexist between your success and your personal life and being able to handle the responsibility that success brings. This is quite difficult for me.

You said: „In art there has to be pain“. Is the pain a precondition for making a good art?
In my case it seems to be!! Hahahahaha. I think it has been that way always. For whatever reason it is times of despair and pain that produce the environment for art. I composed "Requiem" the day I learned of Paco de Lucia´s death. It was something instant. It was as if my soul wept and I was able to write down what it was saying.
Flamenco is the most passionate music – it’s an expression of deep emotions, usually melancholy and sadness. How does flamenco help you to connect with your inner self, with your soul?
Flamenco for me is the universal language of the soul. All music expresses feelings but I believe flamenco is the best in precisely displaying basic human emotions such as yearning, loss, sadness or love. That is why it is so successful internationally. Language is not a barrier, everyone understands and can relate to these emotions.

Your last album is called „Memoria de los sentidos“. Should we return to our senses? Can we trust them to be our guide?
Yes, I believe so. I know that the senses have a memory. You often feel a breeze with a certain aroma (ocean for example) and that sparks automatically a memory, a place, or a person with whom you shared that place in the past.

What is the main message that you would want to share with the public during a performance? Everywhere I go I like to share love. We are all more similar than we are led to believe. We all are stimulated by similar things and emotions and have similar fears. We are brothers on this planet. I like my concerts to be a reunion with my brothers! Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

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