Live Shots: Zahara! at Swedish American Music Hall

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Yeah, so sometimes I cry a little when I listen to live music. You got a problem with that?

This may have happened last Friday night (10/21) when I went with Sam Love to Zahara!, a performance that featured singing and dance with roots in passionate flamenco from Kina Mendez, live Moroccan musicians (a group by the name of El Hamideen), and even some belly dancing.

My love for flamenco stems from when Sam Love and I lived in Cádiz, a small town in southern Spain, when I went to university. The first day of Spanish Lit class, my classmates and I sat down in a rather plain classroom, save for a poster on the wall of a man with a huge afro, and low-buttoned shirt revealing stacks of gold medallions around his neck. Beneath the photo, one word: Camarón.

In our naivete (and lack of Spanish culture) we thought it had something to do with shrimp. Our teacher entered and one of the first questions asked was not to do with Lorca, but about the dude in the photo. Our teacher's answer: “ Camarón es Dios.” Wow! Here we were in a Catholic country and this guy was God? We needed to know more. Turns out, Camarón was one of the most famous flamenco singers in Spain, so much so that people wore gold saint medalions of him around their necks in place of Santa Maria. From that moment on, I couldn't get enough of the emotional, heart-wrenching, powerful ballads known as flamenco.

So when Kina Mendez started singing during the Zahara performance, the potency, the tradition, the Spanishness that came from her lips induced salty tears to roll down my face. It was beatiful. I loved the mixing of cultures happening on stage, the air of pure nostalgia, and the fact that despite their different geographical provenances, the singing of Spain and the drumbeats of Morocco can come together in perfect harmony.

VALE! VALE!

Kina Mendez:

Camaron: