second golden key award for song: flamenco prizes llave de oro del cante manuel vallejo
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la llave de oro del cante - second golden key award for song

part 2    continued: part 1   part 3   part 4   

continued from llave de oro del cante part 1


second golden key award 1926

Manuel Vallejo


manuel vallejo




















continued part 3

It seems clear that there was no official body that awarded the first Golden Key for Song to Tomás el Nitri, just a group of "fans" who paid him a simple homage. Though his ability as a singer is not in doubt, the prize may have become more significant had there been an actual competition. Some of his comtemporaries (in the1860s and 70s) were well known artists, for example, Silverio Franconetti, El Loco Mateo, Tío Frasco La Mica, Enrique El Gordo Viejo, El Marruro, Paquirri El Guanté, El Viejo de la Isla...

In contrast, the second award of the Golden Key for Song was inherently commercial. Singing competitions once again became fashionable in the spate of the famous Granada concurso of 1922, which Lorca, Falla, Zuolaga and others of the artistic elite organised. Their motive was to put flamenco back on track and preserve "purity". It is doubtful that it did, but at least it stimulated the art with more smaller competitions and prize-giving. Thus it was against this historical backcloth in 1926 that the owner of the theatre "Teatro Pavon" in Madrid orchestrated the prize in favour of Manual Vallejo. The trophy was presented by another very famous singer called Manuel Torre, also no doubt as a gesture of friendship and recognition.

But there could have been another motive. In another theatre (the coliseum "el Romera") the Sevillano Manuel Centano sang, while Vallejo took the stage in the Teatro Pavón. The scene was set when Manuel Centano won an earlier singing competition in which Vallejo also sang. This rivalry may have prompted aficionados to suggest that Vallejo take a revived Golden Key Award, whereupon the Teatro Pavón made it happen. Vallejo was generally recognised as a better singer, encyclopedic in his knowledge of the cante as well as an excellent bulerias dancer.


A photo does exist of the occasion:

Manuel Torre presents the third golden key award to Manuel Vallejo in Madrid 1926

Those present at the "ceremony":

1. Emilio Isodor el Faro - singer
2. Luisito Maravillas - guitarist (still a boy aged 12 yrs)
3. Francisco Roldan - singer
4. La Trianita - singer
5. Niño de Villarrubia - singer
6. Niño de Valdapeñas - singer
7. MANUEL TORRE - singer (presenting the golden key award)
8.- Niño de la Marianas - singer
9. Victor Rojas - guitarist (brother of Pastora Imperio)
10. Manolo Vico - actor
11. Antonio el Mellizo - singer (son of Enrique el Mellizo)
13. José Ortega El Gordo - singer
14. José Cepero - singer
15. Pepe de Badajoz - guitarist
16. Martell - guitarist
17. Tomás Torre - singer/dancer
18. Enrique Mariscal - guitarist


Vallejo was highly regarded, but himself respectful of his contemporaries and did not parade his prize. There were other great singers of the time who were not given the chance to compete for the golden key, which of course casts doubt on its status as a competition... Probably he did not take it so seriously, especially since the top singers of the time, Antonio Chacón and Niña de los Peines were enjoying huge public success. Vallejo remained active until the 1950s, and died aged 69 in 1960.


Content flamenco prizes golden key award © Simon Zolan 2001




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