It must have been 2018 when I first recognised Maria de Huelva. At Portobello Spanish Festival, she accompanied the flamenco dance students of Lucia Caruso with her singing and guitar playing. I was accompanying another group of students with my cajon, and Lucia’s group was performing in a later slot than ours, so I had a chance to watch and listen to Maria. At that time in London, it was quite rare to see a Spanish lady who played the guitar as well as sang, especially with such authenticity. I was very impressed and eager to know more about her, and ideally work with her, but I was too shy…
Five years past until we met again in April 2023. She was one of the appointed musicians for the Feria at Peña Flamenca de Londres. I was volunteering at the bar, and we kind of greeted each other when she wanted a drink, but did not quite chat to each other. The moment finally arrived for me when she turned up to support our mutual friend, Tony El Despeinao, playing the guitar in Opera Tavern in June 2023. I managed to confess to her that I had always wanted to talk to her since the Portobello Spanish Festival. Maybe she thought I was a bit weird, but anyway… I was glad that I finally made a proper acquaintance with her. On the night we even danced Sevillanas together and had a good time.
When I was given the opportunity to curate an ongoing flamenco event at Poplar Union in East London, starting in July 2023, I decided to ‘hire’ her. It was a brave move for me but she kindly accepted the offer - so this is how our ‘Flamenco Tuesday’ started. Since then, we have performed together every week in the friendly venue. I have enjoyed not only the live performances with her but also our informal rehearsals in her place. Listening to her singing from her heart even in such rehearsals, it’s like I’m in a private acoustic concert with her. She has been so generous to share her vast knowledge of Spanish music with me and inspired me so many times.
She is not just a talented singer and musician - she is also one of the nicest people in the London flamenco industry. With her amazingly good communication skills, she always welcomes guests in a friendly manner and makes them feel at home. Without her, my project at Poplar Union would not have been possible at all.
For the last couple of weeks we have been doing singing workshops of Villancicos (Spanish Christmas carols) as well as our normal live shows. The last date will be Tuesday 19th December - on this occasion Poplar Union will take table bookings of 4 at only £10, which includes a bottle of wine and mince pies to share. They also partnered with K&T Cuisine to bring you Caribbean food that will be available for purchase during the event (£10 per person). As well as Villancicos, we will also play some ‘cantes de ida y vuelta’ to match the atmosphere.
If you don’t want wine or mince pies, the event itself is still free entry, so please feel free to turn up with friends. Let’s celebrate the most wonderful time of the year together with the most wonderful person, Maria de Huelva.
*‘Flamenco Tuesday’ will continue in 2024 in a slightly different format - please check my ‘Events’ page as well as my socials for further details.
Table booking for 19th Dec: