TOMÁS DE PERRATE
Born in 1964, Tomás de Perrate is a cantaor from Utrera, Sevilla. Perrate is a member of one of flamenco’s most important families of cantaores. He is the son of Perrate de Utrera, one of Utrera’s greatest flamenco singers, and grandson of Manuel Torres, the legendary singer from Jerez de la Frontera. Tomás truly boasts a lineage that is overflowing with numerous masters of gypsy flamenco. He is also related to Maria La Perrata, El Lebrijano, Gaspar de Utrera, Pedro Peña, Miguel Funi, Dorantes, La Serneta, Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera and Bambino.
Perrate’s singing perfectly combines of the singing styles of his father and maternal grandfather, Manuel Torres. Critic Miguel Acal writes, “His father and grandfather joined together in his voice, his father’s sweetness and solemn rhythm and Manuel’s ancient echo come together.” Perrate is known for his massive voice and profound “echo.” Such an “echo” is rare today and normally associated only with singers from the past.
Commonly, older generations of flamenco artists, like Tomás’ father, were not interested in taking their flamenco outside of their hometown. Instead, they typically preferred performing in local taverns, fiestas and in homes. As a singer, Tomás de Perrate developed in this same fashion, not appearing on large stages or in public recordings until later in his life. Perrate recorded his first CD in 1999, collaborating with members of his family on “Utrera Canta a la Navidad.” This recording emulates a traditional flamenco Christmas gathering, where songs such as the Campanilleros are sung in a festive gypsy spirit. These songs are believed to have been the invention of Tomás’ grandfather, Manuel Torres. Perrate is one of the best performers of these styles.
Perrate first performed outside of his native land in 2000, visiting the Mont de Marsan Flamenco Festival in France. There, Perrate performed in “Raíces de luz” with Pepa de Benito and Manuel de Paula. The following year, he performed at the Potaje Gitano Festival and Feria Mundial del Flamenco in Utrera. During these appearances, critics and audiences hearing him for the first time marveled at the sound of this relative “newcomer’s” voice and at the purity of his interpretation.
In 2001, Perrate began circulating throughout the flamenco peñas of the province of Sevilla and region of Andalucía. Later, he assumed the role of artistic director in a tribute performance to his father, Perrate de Utrera, at the Feria Mundial del Flamenco. In 2002, Perrate was awarded the Giraldillo to “Best New Artist Award” at the Bienal de Sevilla for his show “Campiña.” Tomás de Perrate is also a recipient of the Mostachón de Oro Award, Utrera’s most prestigious annual award in recognition of people, associations and entities whose work exalts Utrera.
In an effort to promote tourism in Andalucía, Perrate began working as an ambassador of flamenco and Spain, spreading gypsy cante around the world. By 2003, Perrate again appeared at the Mont de Marsan Flamenco Festival in France, lecturing on “El Cante De Utrera De Ayer Y De Hoy” (songs from Utrera from yesterday and today). Only one year later, he guest lectured on the same topic at Harvard University and again, at the Bienal de Sevilla, alongside singers and dancers, including Chocolate, Bernarda de Utrera, Miguel Funi, Pepa de Benito and Angelita Vargas. In early 2006, Perrate participated in a lecture by Ricardo Pachón at the Nîmes Flamenco Festival, accompanied on guitar by Diego Carrasco.
Over time, Perrate has recorded his music on several musical compositions, including “Utrera Flamenca,” (2003), recorded with members of his family. “Perraterías” (2005) is Perrate’s first solo recording, compiling a collection of bulerías, soleares, siguiriya, and tangos dedicated to the tradition of his father and his aunt La Perrata. “Infundio” (2010) reveals a mature Tomás de Perrate whose vocals still have the deep and earthy tone emblematic of his family, but where the boundaries of flamenco are experimentally fused with other musical forms.
Today, Tomás de Perrate, with his earth shattering gypsy voice building his fan base worldwide, is one of the most respected singers in the world of flamenco. He is a natural with traditional flamenco styles and his voice vibrates with a chilling echo that is full of profound dark sounds that almost shake the room as he sings. He experiments with his family’s customs and often performs a more modern and commercial style of flamenco that is based on tradition. Perrate mixes his flamenco with other musical styles, including jazz, reggae and Cuban son, creating fusions of perfectly blended musical styles complemented by his coarse gypsy voice. He understands the importance of his roots, but believes one must have the ability to adapt to the reality of flamenco. He also recognizes that one must never lose the respect of the art of their ancestors whilst finding their own path.
Currently, Tomás de Perrate performs around the world representing Utrera. He often works with dancer and flamenco visionary Israel Galván, presently forming part of the cast of “Lo Real/Le Réel/The Real” and “La Edad de Oro.”