El Pele the cantaor who became the opening act for David Bowie
A Cordovan from a humble family, accustomed to earning his living with his singing, El Pele is today a world-renowned artist. Get to know him in this post of our blog
"El Pele" is the artistic name that Manuel Benítez "El Cordobés" gave to Manuel Moreno Maya, a Cordoban singer born in 1954. Raised in the bosom of a very humble gypsy family, he travelled from a very young age through the neighbourhoods of Cordoba singing in the streets, tablaos and fairs. His family needed help and what was a necessity became a passion.
That daily influence that he lived from his childhood made him flourish inside those seeds that have led him to become a very important cantaor in the history of flamenco. So much so that David Bowie himself was so taken with his gypsy art and his jondo that he asked him to open his concerts in Madrid and Barcelona. And so he did. Although it had already been Prince himself who had been unable to resist the freshness and purity that "El Pele" exudes on every stage.
Success since he was a child
When he was only 15 years old, he won the First Cayetano Muriel Prize (1969) in Cabra (Córdoba). The following year, he received the 'Melón de Oro' in Montalbán (Córdoba). After some others, in 1983, he won two first prizes in the National Contest of Flamenco Art: "La Serneta" por soleá and Pastora Pavón por bulerías.
"El Pelé" is different. He is an innovator. In fact, he has had the ability to create new expressive modes in alegrías, Tangos and bulerías. And he stands out, mainly, for his cantes por soleá, bulerías, seguiriyas, tonás and fandangos.
The world at the feet of El Pele
"El Pele" took his singing beyond the frontiers. Festivals, both national and international, surrendered to his torrent of voice and wisdom, in the company of other great figures of the jondo culture. In Portugal, he performed at the VII International Ethnic Music Festival held in the city of Coímbra; at the Palau de la Música in Valencia he triumphed in 1994 alongside Paco de Lucía, Enrique Morente, Vic ente Amigo, among others; while in Montreux (Switzerland) he was a great success, sharing the stage with Manolo Sanlúcar, Camarón and Lole y Manuel.
They say that watching "El Pele" singing is like watching a horse running wild with emotions. That his singing invites you to feel. Others say that age has made him sing in a relaxed way, as only the masters know how to do. Although he does not consider himself a master, there is no doubt that he has become one of the greats of flamenco singing.
Awards received by El Pele
1969 First Prize Cayetano Muriel in Cabra (Córdoba).
1970 Melón de Oro in Montalbán (Córdoba).
1983 two first prizes at the National Contest of Flamenco Art: La Serneta por soleá and Pastora Pavón por bulerías.
1998 Fiambrera de Plata del Ateneo de Córdoba.
2021 Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts.
Discography of El Pele
El Pele (1973).
La fuente de lo jondo (1986). Recorded with Vicente Amigo and Isidro Muñoz.
Cantaores de Córdoba . Anthology (1989).
Poetas de esquinas blandas (1990).
XXIII Festival Nacional del Cante de las Minas (1993).
Avante claro (1995).
Puro y Jondo (2002). DVD in which he appears with the cantaor Fosforito.
Canto (2003 ). Album recorded with Vicente Amigo.
8 guitars and 1 piano (2008 ).