|Birth name||Enrique Morente Cotelo|
|Died||13 December 2010 (aged 67)|
Enrique Morente Cotelo (25 December 1942 – 13 December 2010), known as Enrique Morente, was a
"It hasn't been easy. First came the accusations of corruption of the music, of treachery in his struggle to disfigure what was already perfectly coded. When some albums and some categorical evidence of his knowledge of the classical approach laid these malicious comments bare, then came the most twisted condemnations. That the pace of the compás waned (just get a metronome and see for yourself), that he didn't really make you feel (are there really many true aficionados whose hair doesn't stand on end listening to his caña ‘Eso no lo manda la ley’, ‘La aurora de Nueva York’ or ‘Generalife’, to name three markedly different examples) and that kind of thing."
Enrique Morente, born in the traditional quarter of Albaicín in
"The cante begins inside you when you listen to the villager's singing, to people in their birthplace. Groups of people that meet in a tavern and start singing, and then you listen to them and start singing as well: you learn that at family parties where everybody sings and everybody drinks, and everybody dances and... Apart from that, it turns out that, of course, you need a technique, you need a school, you need to learn. In order to achieve this, what you need... the main help you can get is to have a liking for it; and then the skill to know who to learn from, and from what sources, where to find the good. Then you are on."
However, this appreciation for the popular side of flamenco does not mean that he considers flamenco as just "an art of the people". A flamenco artist, for him, needs technique and dedication:
"It is us, the professional artists of flamenco, who have to make cante flamenco, and nobody else, Flamenco, like any other art, is an art of professionals, although there are many people who peer at us, with a look as if to say: What interesting little creatures! or maybe: Oh! What music the people are playing! and so on. And people often think that maybe you have to have fingers swollen from picking potatoes to be able to play the guitar with feeling. Look, picking potatoes is every bit as worthy as playing a guitar. But I can tell you that a man -with fine, sensitive fingers is not going to be able to make a go of picking potatoes: and I can also tell you that a man with fingers swollen from picking potatoes is not going to be able to play a guitar because he hasn't got the manual dexterity and he hasn't got the dedication. This is a profession like any other which you have to dedicate yourself to completely. It is an art of professionals." 
Still in his teens, Morente went to live in
Morente made his first recording, Cante flamenco in 1967 with guitarist Félix de Utrera. The recording received a special mention award from the Cátedra de Flamencología, and was followed by Cantes antiguos del flamenco (1969), with guitarist Niño Ricardo. His first recordings were strictly orthodox and showed deep knowledge of traditional flamenco, a rare quality for singers of his generation. During this period he also made his first contact with guitarist
His next record, Homenaje flamenco a Miguel Hernández (Flamenco Homage to
"The thing that most calls your attention in his first productions is how much care he devotes to the lyrics of his cantes. This is probably the first step in his future career as an innovator in flamenco. The poems by Miguel Hernández, for example, became immortal in his impressive 'Nana de la Cebolla' or 'El Niño Yuntero'. With the attitude he showed, in these poems, against the
francoistregime, he became the favourite flamenco singer for the left-wing opposition in the country, as well as one of the first innovators." 
In 1971 and 1972, he toured Mexico with guitarist Parrilla de Jerez and dancer Ana Parrilla, a tour which included his presentation at the Auditorium of the Universidad de las Américas, and performed at
Morente arrived back to orthodox flamenco singing with his recording Homenaje a Don Antonio Chacón (Homage to Antonio Chacón, 1977), which obtained the National Award for best folk music album, granted by the Ministry of Culture. In this recording, Morente vindicated the figure of singer
In 1981 he toured a new show, Andalucía hoy ("Andalusia Today"), which he would later perform at the
In 1990 in another comeback to orthodoxy, he recorded Morente-Sabicas, with guitarist
"At a given point, I thought I could dedicate it to
Pope Clement, the one of El Palmar de Troya, but then I remembered that he had canonized Franco, Primo de Rivera, Carrero Blancoand all those guys and, while on the one hand I thought it was funnier, on the other hand I thought the joke could be interpreted in a strange way and I didn't do it, though I was about to do it. But the record was made with a sincerity and a true intention, no matter the results, and I thought it was like ruining it a bit because of the joke.. and that was too much!"
In 1995 he appeared singing a
The year 2001 saw the publishing of a very much sought for record by Morente, "Enrique Morente en la Casa Museo de García Lorca de Fuentevaqueros", a collection of songs based on the poetry of
Another interesting release of Morente, El Pequeño Reloj, saw the light in 2003. Whereas the second half of the CD is a more or less random collection of songs, the first half of the record comprises a surprising series of songs which are broken in two parts: in the first part of the song, Morente's voice is superimposed on top of old 78 r.p.m recordings of old masters of the flamenco guitar like
Although Morente could not read
He has tried the mixture between flamenco and classical music in works like Fantasía de cante jondo para voz y orquesta (
Owing to his innovative approach, Morente was widely criticized by the more extreme traditionalist sectors of flamenco's critical faculty and public, though it had been said that "Needless to say, all this cost Morente a real torment, since flamenco is still a very closed world, in which the slightest attempt for novelty is taken as a deadly sin of heresy.". Although Morente's work is now widely recognized by most critics, and has inspired many singers of the young generation like
"Aficionados were scratching their heads after the show, trying to figure out exactly, which forms—if any—Morente was working in much of the time. 'Remember the old days when you could actually recognize what flamenco forms were being performed?'"
Ethnic bias is often not alien to these criticisms. A good number of flamenco critics and public were introduced into flamenco at the time of the "reappraisal period" led by singers like
"This comes from the man who never sings the same way twice, who tirelessly seeks that new inflection, that unheard-of scale, the change of tone that best matches the desired feeling and intentions at a given moment. The easy option would be the other one. To do what Enrique does you need extreme intellectual abilities and extreme emotional commitment. He takes the perfectly-laid, common foundations, defined by tradition, and on them builds with all the conceivable potential of flamenco."