A difficult hurdle

As it usually happens in Granada, great and exciting projects are always subject to a relentless critic and a few experts. The main detractor of the Flamenco Song Contest, in the key days when the City Council had to decide whether to sponsor it, was the chronicler of the province Francisco de Paula Valladar, a historian, writer and journalist who from his magazine La Alhambra, founded in 1884 and of which 572 issues were published, written almost exclusively by himself, began to bombard the contest under the accusation of it being a “españolada” (typically Spanish).

Coinciding with the presentation of the application for aid, he published a devastating article: “Let’s stop with the deep song. We run the very serious risk that this party can become an “españolada”, which is not forgotten by the Centro Artístico. And he gave as rather an absurd example a recent film about Columbus in which the admiral appeared embarking on his journey to Córdoba up the Carrera del Darro, that is, in the direction of Murcia.

Commemorative disc of the 1st Flamenco Song Contest published in 2017 by the Alhambra and Generalife Board.
Commemorative disc of the 1st Flamenco Song Contest published in 2017 by the Alhambra and Generalife Board.

Like any earthquake, the objection had its aftershocks. There soon appeared those who invented that the expense would leave the city without Corpus Christi festivities or resources to attend to other fronts and, in addition, they added angrily, the aid of the contest would be administered by a private company. A certain Joaquín Corrales gave this opinion about the singing: “Soul of slaves. The party of the tavern jipío and the pingo in flamenco tablaos”. And, finally, another columnist hidden under the name of Ben Garnata proposed that the subsidy be used to end begging, improve drinking water, school groups and public hygiene. “Deep song is enjoyed by a more or less respectable minority,” he said.

Only one of Valladar’s suggestions was accepted by the organizers: to create a phonographic fund to leave a sonorous testimony.

Miguel Cerón, under the pseudonym Abelión, was the first to reply to the slander in El Defensor de Granada: “The subsidy for the contest does not alter the general budget of our town hall”. A day before the municipality decided, Manuel de Falla finished off: “The meager chorus of protesters barely reaches the value that all unreasonable hostility supposes for the prestige of a just cause”.

He was joined by Roberto Gerhard (“I intend to make propaganda in Barcelona”) and the respected Felipe Pedrell, who died weeks later, and others: “Tell your friends that I am now singing deep song from the inside”.