Manuel Gerena’s “Cantará mi niño (Alboreá)”

… Sing, Andalussian boy,
     because your singing takes away
the cross of the shadow and brings light…

(Rafael Alberti, “Coplas para Manuel Gerena” –translation is mine-)

Cantando a la libertad grandeSome Cantaores (flamenco singers) in the late 70s, like Manuel Gerena, used to sing the flamenco traditional songs with heavy social words; they, were Gypsies or payos (non-Gypsies), tried to regain flamenco music for the working class, after years of a bad use, principally for the turism business. They thought that the flamenco music was the music of peasants, gypsies and poors, was a lament and a expression of the working people. So it was to our admired Manuel Gerena, who, in his LP of 1976, Cantando a la libertad (Singing to Freedom), sang this traditional palo (literally, “stick”, but it makes refference to the styles of flamenco), the alboreá, with those heavy words about the work to get the freedom for the future generations, that shall be a happy singing people. There’s a page on wikipedia in English about the alboreá, but it seems to be a little incomplete regarding to the Spanish page. The name of the style comes out from the word alborada or albor, “dawn”; probably, aforetime, they were songs sung at day’s first hour: along the whole Spanish folklore, there’s a lot of songs bound to be sung at dawn. It’s said that Gypsies uses only to sing them in their weddings, and do it out of this context may brings bad luck. But Manuel knows that’s not true, and he knew that he was trying to sing to the dawn of a new day… Although it’s a day that takes too long in comming.

Manuel Gerena on Spanish TV; accompanied by guitarrist Rafael Cañizares

Cantará mi niño


Duerme, compañera,
duerme mientras quedo
labrándole al hijo
libertad si puedo.
¡Ya llegó la medianoche!
¡ya está aquí la medianoche!
Yo pienso despierto…
¡ay! así, a golpes de sangre
¡ay! se graban a mis versos.
No está lejos el día,
pronto lo veremos,
ya viene llegando.
Cantará mi niño
lo que estoy labrando.
¡Cantaremos a la libertad!
¡Cantaremos a la libertad
p’a que salgan de este pueblo
muchos niños a cantar!
¡P’a que salgan de este pueblo
muchos niños a cantar!

Mi child shall sing


Back of his LPSleep, partner,/ sleep while I keep/ tilling for our child/ the freedom, if I can.// Midnight has come now!/ midnight is here now!/ Awake I’m thinking…/ Oh! so, by beats of blood/ oh! they are ingraving in my verses.// The day is not far,/ we’ll see it soon,/ already it goes comming.// My child shall sing/ what I’m tilling./ We shall sing to freedom!/ We shall sing to freedom/ for from this people/ may lots of children get out to sing!/ For from this people/ may lots of children get out to sing!

Manuel Gerena – Traditional

As the biography on Manuel Gerena’s web is only in Spanish, here you have a brief biography I made in the first entry about Manuel Gerena in “For Foreigners”.

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