Diego El Cigala
He started his career singing on the streets, but pretty soon Diego Ramon Jimenez Salazar had moved up in the world, singing behind dancers such as El Guito, Carmen Cortes and Manuela Carrasco. Diego learned to flex his powerful vocal chords growing up in Madrid's El Rastro barrio, where he won awards singing the music of his Romani heritage. He quickly gained a reputation for his sensitive, syncopated interaction with the dancers he accompanied, and he became a sought-after collaborator, recording with Tomatito, Vicente Amigo and Camaron de la Isla among others. In 1994 he decided to step out from behind the baile, releasing Undebel. Six long years without releases followed; then the year 2000 set off a flurry of releases. The masterful Entre Vareta y Canasta was quickly followed by 2001's Corren Tiempos de Alegria and 2003's Lagrimas Negras, a stunning, one-take collaboration with revered Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes. Suddenly El Cigala (so called by Camaron de la Isla) was everywhere, and his impassioned vocal take on flamenco has come to help define the genre for the 21st century.