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Bilbao-born flamenco cantaor Juanjo Navas

Oct 04, 2021

Flamenco universal language knows no borders, nor does it know origins, it understands no other language than its own, so much so that the Bilbao-born cantaor Juanjo Navas has been emerging as one of the most outstanding, restless and original singers on flamenco current scene. In addition to participating in numerous festivals and having performed in very different stages, his career is endorsed by the edition of a first album "Reflejos de Andalucía", where he recreates texts by Bilbao writer Beñat Arginzoiz. Purist and heterodox at the same time, Juanjo Navas happens to be the first singer in history to perform a saeta in Basque, thus providing a new and original vision, a fact that, along with his career, enabled him both to make contact with the Blas de Otero foundation and to make this second album "Digo vivir" where the singer interprets the texts of the poem "Redoble de conciencia" by one of the essential poets of the century XX, Blas de Otero.


Word will always remain in memory, the word from the poet , his life, his cause. The one who fiddles with verses, numbing grudges and offenses due to the voice from the one who sings them. Flamenco´s poetry whose origin is lost in the mist of time will remain ancestral, eternal, forever and so the word of the poet will, the one who tells and the one who sings.


Poetry and flamenco have often gone hand in hand, specially since ´27 generation. Popular culture and local intellectuals together in a round trip where the verses from Lorca, Miguel Hernández, Alberti or Machado have been frequently recreated by the most distinguished flamenco interpreters , from José Menese, Camarón, Vicente Soto “Sorderita”,  Morente, Carmes Linares or Miguel Poveda, complementing and configuring together, the perfect way to describe the labyrinth of emotions.

Recreating the existentialist period from Bilbao´s poet and his uprooted poetry "Digo vivir" is a work matured with conscience, faithful, respectful and very personal and for whose realization, Juanjo Navas has been joined by Curro Bermejo and Marco Borge on guitar, Darío Campos on percussion, Lidia de Lorenzo on dance and claps with Julen Biain, Jagoba Ormaetxea , Kike Mora on bass, Olaya Alcaraz, Mónica Muñoz and Isa Hernández on backing vocals. An extraordinary adaptation work of despite the complexity of verses whose metric was never intended for flamenco but nevertheless, Otxarkoaga's solves masterfully, either by Granaina in "En Castellano”, by Alegrías in “Yo soy aquel que no más decía” or by Tangos in "Digo vivir" where he moves away from orthodoxy to resume the tradition by Abandolados in " Vámonos al campo " and return to Tangos in "El Ciervo". Echoes from Morente in the soleá " En el principio " to travel to the joy of guajira and fandango in " Echar mis versos del alma " and "El emigrante" respectively. Juanjo Navas gives us halfway between tientos and tangos, " Por los puentes de Zamora", profiling with the toná " Mientras viva ", as a new reference within the purest and most respectful flamenco but without losing that restless and innovative look that some of its predecessors already had just like Camarón´s "La leyenda del tiempo" or even Enrique Morente in "Omega" joined by Bilbao rock band Sonic Trash in "A la inmensa mayoría”  and keeping in innovating on "Lagun Kantua" song in Basque.


"Digo vivir" Flamenco poetry will endure in memory, it will become eternal in time in Juanjo Navas voice, the one who cradles the word written by  Blas de Otero, his experiences and its causes because in the end, the word always remains.