Top 5 Artists You Never Knew Were from Granada

Enrique Morente, by El Niño
Enrique Morente, by El Niño | © dr_zoidberg/Flickr
Mark Nayler

Granada has always attracted writers, dreamers, painters and poets from all over the world. But its incomparable location at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains – spilling out from the steep, verdant Darro Valley and overlooked by the greatest Moorish fortress in Spain – means it’s been home to a few of its own, too. Here are some of its most talented and influential sons and daughters.

1. Federico García Lorca (1898–1936)

Museum, University

Federico García Lorca is arguably Spain’s most famous poet and writer, but less well known is the fact that he was born in a small farming town just a few kilomteres outside of Granada. His family moved to Granada capital when Lorca was 11, into an elegant townhouse that’s now a museum dedicated to his life and work.

Statue of Federico García Lorca in Plaza Santa Ana, Madrid | © Javi/Flickr

Enrique Morente (1942–2010)

Opposite one of the best tapas bars in central Granada, three simple words are scrawled on a battered old wall in spray paint: “Vive Morente,” or “Long live Morente.” It is a subtle reminder of the huge influence Enrique Morente, a Granada-born flamenco singer and innovator, had on the constantly-evolving art he practiced.

Morente’s flamenco credentials were impeccable. He was born in Albaicín, Granda’s old Arabic quarter and an area steeped in flamenco. Encouraged by musical family members and saturated in the flamenco culture of Albaicín, he started to sing at a very early age and, when still only in his teens, headed to Madrid to pursue a career as a professional musician.

Morente in Barcelona in 2009

His first recordings, made in the late 1960s and early 1970s, adhered to the traditional forms and rythms of flamenco and were widely praised by purists. But Morente eventually tired of these and became more experimental, much to the dismay of those who had lauded his early works. A 1996 record, Omega, made in collaboration with the Spanish alternative rock group Lagartija Nick, was a step too far for many. Like him or not, though, Morente was one of the most challenging and inventive figures in flamenco’s recent history.

Estrella Morente (b. 1980)

Enrique Morente’s contribution to the flamenco tradition didn’t stop with his death. His daughter Estrella Morente, now 36, has also established herself as a respected and successful flamenco singer, avoiding the fate of simply being “that famous singer’s daughter.”

Although, as she was growing up in Sacromonte – the achingly romantic gypsy flamenco neighborhood of Granada – there were certain perks of being the great Morente’s little girl. When Estrella was seven, she performed with the legendary flamenco guitarist Sabicas; at 14, she sang with her father in a rock-flamenco fusion concert. In 2001, she came to the world’s attention with the release of her first album, Mi cante y un poema (My Songs and a Poem), as well as a high-profile wedding in Granada to bullfighter Javier Conde.

Estrella Morente

Estrella has released five records since then and was Penélope Cruz’s singing voice in the 2006 film Volver. Elements of the tradional flamenco forms that characterized her father’s early work are present in her singing, but so too is a new, fresh voice that is bringing flamenco to a younger audience.

2. David 'EL Fandi' Fandila (b. 1981)

Consistently one of Spain’s top-ranked bullfighters, local boy El Fandi always draws huge crowds when he performs in Granada’s enormous bullring. In 2005, he achieved the exceptionally difficult and dangerous feat of performing in more than 100 bullfights in a single season, thus becoming the world’s number one matador. His efforts to reach the height of his art and profession were caught in a superb film by Nina Seavey and Stephen Higgins called The Matador – well worth a watch for anyone curious about bullfighting.

El Fandi, Granada’s favorite bullfighter | © Jorge Luis Perez/Flickr

3. Alonzo Cano (1607–1661)

Cathedral, Church, Museum

If you think you don’t know Cano or his work, you’re almost certainly mistaken if you’ve visited Granada. Cano’s greatest architectural achievement is the façade of the city’s mighty cathedral, for which he was given the commission in 1652 but which wasn’t actually erected (according to his design) until after his death.

The façade of Granada’s cathedral, local boy Alonzo Cano’s greatest achievement | © Elliot Brown/Flickr

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