Miguel Poveda’s Historias de viva voz (Histories of the Live Voice) in which he offers an encyclopedia journey through flamenco history will surely win the critics prize. Reviewers have been talking of ‘povedamania’ and no one has taken issue with his tribute to key figures, gypsy and non-gypsy who have made flamenco what it is today. Conceived for Seville’s Maestranza Bullring to open the 2010 Seville Bienal involving 50 plus artists moving between various stages bringing to life the countryside, family homes, tabancos, cafe cantantes, tablaos and festivals, the Jerez version was staged with a handful of musicians with 3 singers as well as Poveda. The panorama of figures Poveda brought to life using characteristic styles involving minute vocal and physical gestures and in some cases hats, canes, jackets was nothing less than a tour de force. Perhaps only a Catalan brought up in Badalona, Barcelona with no flamenco DNA in his blood could do this so adroitly without offending those who have grown up in flamenco families for whom race while not PC is still an underlying factor that fuels the genre and gives it its historical potency. If the question at the back (and front in some cases) of everyone’s mind is, is this deep tribute to those whose craft he has learnt, a form of extraordinary impersonation, or is Poveda a vocal chameleon? The answer is possibly yes to all three points of view. Olé Poveda nothing short of genius! – if a little hurried at times – you need a flamenco disciple at your side to explain just who is being alluded to… or maybe some detailed programme notes would not go amiss.
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