RAÚL EL BALILLA
Artistically baptized as “El Balilla”, we met him at the first edition of La Voz Kids, the youth talent contest in which Raúl was a finalist. The world of entertainment has always offered us numerous examples of what has been called child prodigies, creatures who already dominate a certain artistic field at an early age. And flamenco art could not be an exception. From those wonderful children who made history in jondo art such as Niño Gloria, Niña de los Peines or Los Chiquitos de Algeciras to the most recent cases of Potito or Niña Pastori, now joins Raúl El Balilla, who despite his youth he already has an extraordinary natural talent for cante.
Talent that El Balilla offers us throughout this his first solo recording for the Universal label. Produced by the guitarists of Ketama Juan and Josemi Carmona, the work includes traditional flamenco songs such as bulerías, minera and fandangos that alternate with versions of the favorite songs of the Cartagena prodigy. Thus, the album begins with “Turu, Turai”, those tangos from Extremadura popularized by Remedios Amaya and that El Balilla, with Josemi Carmona’s guitar and Jorge Pardo’s flute, makes his own. The work continues with what is the first single from the album, a version of “El Progreso” by Roberto Carlos, in which the Cartagena artist transforms the Brazilian aroma of the original composition into a torn song full of commitment.
If the Carmona were in charge of the production, it was logical that the recording would incorporate another of the successes of the recent history of flamenco music. I am referring to the “Ya no quiero tu querer”, with which José el Francés achieved glory and which Juan Carmona himself produced for his album “Las calle de San Blas”.
A composition in which El Balilla shows all his Camarón echo, his, so far, greatest cantaora influence. Neither could this debut feature miss some bulerías by Ketama, the ones entitled “Leyenda viva”, which the group included in their album “El arte de lo invisible”. “No me lo creo”, that ballad by José Losada that El Balilla recreates through slow tangos, “Te estoy amando locamente” the rumba signed by Felipe Campuzano for Las Grecas and “Amor de San Juan”, a composition by Queco that Niña Pastori included on their album “María”, they close the versions section with a note.
But El Balilla lives not only on versions. This is attested, for example, by the two batches of natural fandangos that he leaves us, a style in which he shows an absolute and dazzling mastery of the genre. Or in the mining companies of Antonio Grau Mora, El Rojo el Alpargatero, a fundamental figure and master of Levante cantes. One of the most heartfelt interpretations of the album that El Balilla dedicates to the figure of his great-grandfather, a miner by profession. Cantes in which, by the way, Pablo Consuegra’s guitar accompanies him with pleasure.
Great figures of flamenco art have already given their blessing to El Balilla and consider him the new sensation of cante jondo. Thus, Juan Carmona tells us that “El Balilla” sings flamenco an awful lot, tuned and to the beat and asking for the guitar at 7 ″. Another teacher, José Mercé, firmly affirms that “El Balilla has the wood of an artist”. Without any doubt, we are facing a true cante prodigy, who has been listening to flamenco since the age of four and from the age of seven taking to the stage, thrilling artists and fans alike. We will carefully follow the evolution of Raúl El Balilla, but what there is no doubt is that he has before him the most promising of the futures, backed by his excellent abilities, his extensive knowledge and the freshness of his youth. Qualities that he leaves us in this debut album, full of emotion and talent.
And what is more important, of art in abundance. For many years.