Raquel, lady of Spanish jazz | Revista independiente de música

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Raquel, lady of Spanish jazz

Raquel started out as a precocious singer being barely 13 years old and her professional debut came from the hands of Teddy Bautista and Miguel Ríos, responsible for the musical direction of the legendary Rocky Horror Show. She was also part of the cast of the musical Jesucristo Superstar and has collaborated with artists of the stature of Camilo Sesto, Miguel Bosé and Vicente Amigo. And Donna Hightower herself backed her as a jazz soloist.

In this interview, Raquel shows the more personal and intimate side of her life and her career.

Your new project Blanco Pasión is a musical journey in time and space, where you are back in good shape. Could we say that the thematic variety in Blanco Pasión is a blank page which you adorn with diverse sound colors?

Songs are the most valuable thing to me, in them, a great part of my baggage as a song-writer and a singer are extracted like in a perfume bottle. This is how my partner Manuel and I consider this project. We offer a world of songs that inhabit our sound universe, a bouquet made with flowers of every style of music of the world united in one voice. This is Blanco Pasión, in all its ambitious simplicity. A personal form of gratitude and admiration for the great artists, singers and authors of our time.

In this your new work, there are also songs of your own composition. Does this make a difference when it comes to perform them, to feel they are yours in a special way?

If you do not specialize and are a song-writer or singer who enjoys good music, you admire its influences and absorb them as well as your own. I don’t know if it was Miguel de Cervantes who wrote: “we are what we eat”, it’s also this way culturally. From my encounters with la rumba, for example, arose a song like Amantis, which without having anything to do with the categorized setting of the rumba, uses its majestic rhythm so favorable for the introduction of Castilian text.

When your career was on the right track with a contract with the Polydor company, where you offered a junction of copla and jazz, a car accident got you away from the stage. Did this prolong the stylistic renovation of an antiquated genre? Who lost more with the halt, Raquel or the copla?

It would be too presumptuous for me to talk about what the copla lost with the halt that my accident led to. The genre went on through different courses, the precious album Acoplados by Martirio and Chano Domínguez, for instance, was a milestone of that evolution which keeps moving forward. Indeed, I arrived at that concept before, but it was accidentally, thrown into it because of Fernando García Tola’s proposal, when he knew full well that I come from blues, funk, rock and jazz. But it amused him to play mixing and I accepted the invitation. What is clear is that my bet on covering copla would have been novel, for my characteristics were special, being culturally with my pores open, integrated in this genre, my instruction was based on American and English music. If the attitude on the part of some record companies had then been pro-creation of original products, it could have had a beautiful development.

How was your return to the music circles?

In a way the accident left me out of the music world. I have never left it.

When I saw I couldn’t walk, I tried to focus on writing, something I’ve done from a very early age. I created, along with other musicians, the band Colores de Madrid, always following a clear trajectory inside the blending, of the fusion of styles, trying to give originality to the texts. Certainly I do not come from a blank page, I could write a book with the story of my career which has been worked by right, thrilling and full, like that of any other artist who prides on being one. Later on, I tried to get fit, creating ensembles like Oeste, Carmen Blues Band, among others. Also more relaxing work outside the country, in cruises, tourism zones, etc. which gave me time to reflect on my personal contribution to music.

I show up now, aspiring as always to be in the front line. There are many people who have gotten involved with me in these ideas, who have delivered their generous support, and my brain has never stopped working to be in the front line; that is my dream.

Your musical journey has been characterized by its great eclecticism, from rock & roll, through funky, to copla. Which style do you feel more comfortable with?

My style. I am totally convinced that whole compartmentalization of music has already blown up and continuing to live inside shoes boxes does not lead us anywhere anymore. Blanco Pasión is based on that philosophy because we are convinced, that is the prevailing trend and clearly the one for the future.

Your trajectory and your collaborations list are long, but, are there any other musicians you didn’t get to collaborate with and you would like to do so?

At that time, for a girl to stand out because of her voice was a novelty, although tradition was already served with cinematographic products like Marisol, Rocio Dúrcal or Joselito himself, due to the precocity of their tessitura. That a young lady would sing imitating Jannis Joplin or cover songs by the Rollings attracted attention. That, I imagine, was what gave me the opportunity to go near all those artists.

I consider my friendship with Donna Hightower a ‘godmothering’ in proper order, I even got to present, at her request, a song of her authorship, It´s time to say goodbye, in the Festival de la Canción (festival of the song) in Alcobendas (Madrid).

Naturally, I didn’t get to collaborate with many, given the abundance of great artists which emerged little by little with the decline of Francoism. Although I was lucky to observe the whole process firsthand.

What do you think about the current music scene and the technological changes that affect the records industry? Do you think it benefits artists or that it is prejudicial?

Fortunately things have changed. The new media give us opportunities to offer our work to sectors which we would have never even been able to dream of reaching individually. And furthermore, no one sets the standards for us or radically conditions us; we find this path attractive and liberating.

I feel very lucky to have a partner and guide, as is Manuel Carrión, in this frontier territory to be able to reach an audience which, in some aspects, only big companies could reach, playing it safe and repeating it ad nauseam and unashamedly; that immobilized the natural transit of culture until paralyzing creativity. They, like everyone else, will also have to adapt.

In your future work, do you anticipate increasing the number of compositions of your own?

For now I’m thinking about finishing the recording process of my own songs. But at the same time, it would be the perfect highlight to that project to be able to offer thus, my own work as well, my style as a song-writer, which I like giving as much importance, or more, as to melodies. I consider that sometimes the text is neglected and songs are deprived of an expressive and sentimental power, added to the omnipresence of English.

A big hug to Poplacara and all your readers!

Translation by Irene Soto.