Jimenez Alcantara, Spanish Flamenco Singer, 90
By AL GOODMAN
MADRID -- Dolores Jimenez Alcantara, a blind singer who was
one of Spain's leading flamenco artists, died on June 14 in a hospital
in Malaga. She was 90.
Onstage Ms. Jimenez wore dark glasses and typically performed while
standing, supporting herself with one hand placed on the back of a chair.
She performed publicly until the late 1980s under the stage name La
Nina de la Puebla (The Girl From the Village) and was best known for
her rendition of "Los Campanilleros" ("The Bell Ringers"), a popular
Spanish ballad about children's folkloric choirs.
The daughter of a singing barber from Seville province, Ms. Jimenez was
born on July 28, 1908, in La Puebla de Cazalla, which gave rise to her
nickname. She had an eye infection when very young, and improper
treatment caused permanent blindness.
Ms. Jimenez began musical instruction at age 8 when her family moved to
Madrid. She warmed gradually to flamenco, received her first contract at
14 and gained a following after a successful performance at a festival
Moron de la Frontera, southeast of Seville, at 20.
In 1931, she made her debut in Seville and a year later, in Madrid. She
took "Los Campanilleros" and moved it definitively into the realm of
A fellow flamenco singer, Manuel Torre, earlier had converted the same
spirited ballad into a melancholy flamenco song. But Ms. Jimenez's
version was lighter, peppery, more accessible yet still mournful. The song
became her trademark, and she performed it with traveling troupes
known as flamenco operas, which appeared in bullrings and theaters.
She spent decades fashioning countless other songs in a style that
flamenco experts often described as dulce, or sweet. She was
comfortable performing much of the flamenco repertory and its multiple
forms of haunting melodies and staccato laments.
In 1934 she married a fellow singer, Lucas Soto Martin, known
professionally as Luquitas de Marchena. He died in 1965. Their five
children -- two of whom, Adelfa and Pepe, are professional flamenco
performers -- survive her.
Ms. Jimenez had been scheduled to receive a gold medal from King Juan
Carlos I for Merit in Fine Arts. The authorities will now deliver the award
to her family.