Today is the turn of one of the greats in Flamenco
Monje Cruz, José, "Camarón de la Isla"
Spanish flamenco singer born in San Fernando (Cádiz) on December 5, 1950 and died in Barcelona on July 2, 1992. His real name was José Monje Cruz. He is considered one of the best flamenco singers of all time and was, in the opinion of many, a true revolutionary of cante who, together with Enrique Morente, contributed to the rebirth of a genre that was going through a serious crisis, transforming it from within. although respecting the most genuine essences of cante jondo. The figure of him, who has crossed the borders of flamenco, as well as his early death and the samples of his art that have been recorded have led to the creation of a legend around the person of him that has spread throughout all the world.
He was the seventh of the eight children of a gypsy blacksmith, Luis Monje, who died while he was a child, and of a basket basket, Juana. His nickname, “Camarón”, was given to him by an uncle of his, who thought that his blond hair and light skin did not fit the stereotype of a Calé boy. Since he was a child, he had a fondness for the world of bullfighting, and even tried to start in the Art of Cúchares, but he saw that it was not his thing and he leaned towards cante, something common in his family (his father intoned well), where he they venerated figures such as La Perla de Cadiz or El Jacket. In fact, he was considered a child prodigy, since his singing caused the admiration of everyone who listened to him. At the age of seven, he sang on the trains and buses that went from the island of San Fernando to Chiclana or Jerez, along with his partner Rancapino, and his flamenco skills were established in the innumerable flamenco parties that his family used to. prepare. His passage through the schools was very brief, because at the age of twelve he began to work in the smithy of his father, at the same time that he sang to earn some money with which to contribute to the meager family economy
He worked throughout Andalusia, especially in Cádiz and in the Taberna Gitana de Málaga, and participated in one of the most important events in the flamenco universe, the Mairena Festival. When he was only sixteen years old, the Miguel de los Reyes company took him to Madrid, where for a long time he was hired in a tablao called Torres Bermejas. Many nights, at dawn, Camarón continued singing at El Palomar, an old inn on the outskirts of Madrid, dedicated, therefore, body and soul to his profession. His fame increased, so he went from tablaos to festivals, where his art could be better appreciated by his followers, who were already beginning to form legion.
In 1989, between March and September, he recorded the album Soy gitano in Seville and London, in which the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Ana Belén collaborated (singing a song composed by Juan Luis Guerra, "Amor de conuco" as a duet). When he was recording a new album with Paco de Lucía, in September 1991, his representative for 20 years and who only hired his recitals, Jesús Antonio Pulpón, announced that Camarón would perform at the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympic Games, but months later In February 1992, the organization excluded him from said ceremony, although it included two of his performances that summer within the Festival of the Arts of the Cultural Olympiad (which were never produced).
On July 2, 1992, José Monje Cruz, Camarón de la Isla, ceased to exist. He died in Badalona (Barcelona) at the age of 41, due to lung cancer. "I would like to be buried in San Fernando" he had declared. His wish was granted.
In 1992 he was named Favorite Son of San Fernando. He is a Medal of Artistic Merit from the Madrid City Council. The Junta de Andalucía awarded him its Gold Medal. The Government of the Nation awarded him the Gold Medal in Fine Arts. He is the adoptive son of the city of La Línea de La Concepción.