The “Cantaor” Of The XXI Century
Flamenco has been his principal victory. Tango his maximum exploration. Salsa his greatest ambition, and Bolero his deepest romanticism. The world has witnessed his talent, Diego Ramón Jiménez Salazar or better known as Diego “El Cigala” has immersed us in these torrential musical genres with his masterful voice for 24 years. Each album shows us intoxicating rhythms that introduce you to joy on many occasions, and many others evoke stories of deep melancholy in their unequivocal lyrics.
Diego, a good, upright, and friendly man has lived very hard moments like the loss of the two most important women in his life. Her wife, Amparo Fernandez, a victim of cancer that took her life in 2015 in her home (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic), and a year after lost her mother, Aurora Salazar Motos.
For 26 years, Amparo was his manager, friend, confidant, wife, and mother of his two oldest children (Diego and Rafael). She was always his stick of support even during the worst stage of his career.
Diego El Cigala has always been very familiar, sentimental, and a believer in God. “… My children make me and they will always keep me going, music heals me from the inside, and God accompanies me making everything possible”, explains the nationalized Dominican artist.
A year and a half after these fateful circumstances, the XXI century cantaor resurfaces and rebuilds his life with his current couple Dolores “Quina” and his third son Manuel, who was the product of this relationship.
Quina loves me, I love her, and she understands me like nobody. I have grief and joy every day of my life. I see my children, my wife, my granddaughters and shot forward.”
At the beginning of 2000, there was a meeting. Diego “El Cigala” and Bebo Valdés got together for the first time, and very much in the style of a bridal link, Diego and Bebo created a strong bond of friendship, mutual respect, and professional admiration.
It was an afternoon at the house of musical director Fernando Trueba where they met and did not stop exchanging opinions about flamenco and Cuban music. From there their first collaboration together, three songs from the CD “Corren tiempos de alegría” released in 2001.
Bebo ever transmitted serenity and tranquility to Diego, which allowed them to record two years later Lágrimas Negras, an album with which they won a Latin Grammy Award for Traditional Tropical Album in 2004.
Both artists lived moments of unique and spiritual teachings. Each day Diego regrets Bebo’s physical departure and misses him so much that every day he looks up and sees Bebo saying to him: What’s wrong?
Bebo helped him get to know the Caribbean where he ended up living, helped him transcend flamenco, and learn about other genres. For that, the only way to pay tribute to him was with the sixth track belonging to the Indestructible record production, Fiesta para Bebo, with the special guest, Los Muñequitos de Matanza.
Since Lágrimas Negras, the cantaor of the XXI century has been able to venture into new genres and collaborations, such as the material Cigala & Tango (2010), Indestructible (2016), and his most recent record production “Cigala canta a México” presented in 2020.
El Cigala Indestructible
Since 2016 Indestructible presented the greatest musical fusion of the American and European continent. It was a Salsa and flamenco production that brought together the founders of the Fania All-Stars after 25 years and recalled emblematic songs such as El ratón, Periódico de ayer, Moreno soy, and Juanito alimaña popularized by Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe, among many others.
Diego El Cigala from the gypsy ethnic group grew up in love with this Latin music since his childhood thanks to his father and the great stars of hard Salsa such as Héctor Lavoe, Celia Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, La Fania All-Stars, and El Gran Combo.
This tenth studio album in tribute to his wife Amparo Fernandez, and his great teacher and friend, Bebo Valdés, was recorded in different territories of the American continent, bringing the color and sound of Salsa from each area to this CD. The cities that he visited and captured part of the recording were: Cali (Colombia), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Havana (Cuba), Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), New York (United States), Miami (United States), and Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) where the production ended with the addition of guitar, choirs, cajón, and flamenco clapping.
As part of this fusion of genres, El Cigala had the opportunity to count on the talent of Oscar D’Leon, Bobby Valentin, Larry Harlow, Roberto Roena, Eddie Montalvo, Nicky Marrero, Jorge Santana, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Luis Perico Ortiz, Horacio el Negro, José Aguirre, Diego del Morao, and the percussion group Los Muñequitos de Matanza with whom he created a very special connection because they have a lot of similarity with the culture of his gypsy people, “I love them, no I’ve seen better people with so much heart “, that’s how El Cigala described them.
Indestructible, nominated for the Latin Grammy for Best Tropical Album in 2018, represents the immortality of Salsa, the essence of the Afro-Caribbean rhythm that endures in the Latin roots of the new generations although it no longer has the same boom that is enjoyed between the period from 1970 to 2000.
Salsa was in the 70s a way to confront racism and xenophobia that Latin Americans were experiencing in the United States. That unites Salsa with gypsy music and the gypsy people, who have also experienced these prejudices”. Diego “El Cigala”