Rocking the cradle of flamenco at Christmas - ‘Su Carita Divina’
Still feeling the mood of flamenco-style Christmas, this time I’m going to feature ‘Su Carita Divina’ (his divine little face), another beloved Villancico from the cradle of flamenco, Jerez de la Frontera.
Nativity from Jerez
Despite its popularity and admiration in Spain, this nativity song in the flamenco form isn’t as ancient as you might think; it was composed by Antonio Gallardo Molina especially for the singer María José Santiago, aka ‘La Santiago’, both from Jerez. This piece was initially included in her first album ‘El silencio de tu voz’ (1982) and later in ‘Villancicos de Jerez a Belén’ (2008), followed by ‘Zambomba Flamenca’ (2010).
‘Su Carita Divina’ from the album ‘Villancicos de Jerez a Belén’
Expressing the religiously adored theme with the distinctive melody, this Villancico in binary rhythm quickly grabbed the heart of not only locals from her hometown but also wider populations in Spain, becoming one of the most frequently sung Villancicos in Zambombas, flamenco Christmas fiestas. Regarded as such an important musical legacy to people in Jerez, ‘Su Carita Divina’ was chosen as one of the two songs to represent the gypsy culture of Spain, when ‘La Santiago’ dedicated her artistry to Pope Francis. Here, her singing voice delivers a holy aura, almost reminding us of Saetas, Spanish religious songs:
María José Santiago singing for Pope Francis (2015)
Flamenco rock, and traditional
Just as the destiny of a popular song, many other artists have also covered it, including ‘La Macanita’, another admired singer from Jerez, a group called Raya Real, and even an Andalusian rock band Arábiga. The rock version added a speedy and powerful groove to it, enticing a different but exciting atmosphere:
‘Su Carita Divina’ by Arábiga (2007)
As much as I love their attempt in the hard rock style, I’d still like to go back to the good-old flamenco version, after all. Let’s virtually join in the fiesta with ‘La Santiago’ and ‘La Macanita’ as well as other renowned artists from Jerez. We can appreciate the warmness of this Villancico in the otherwise cold winter - enjoy!
‘Su Carita Divina’ by María José Santiago & La Macanita (1993)
María José Santiago
Un poquito de flamencology 3 - Villancicos (20th Dec 2020)
Spicing up this Christmas with sugar and cinnamon - ‘Con Azúcar y Canela’ (28th Nov 2021)