Girl Who Became Flamenco In Mariachis

What is a girl who was born in a small city in Jalisco doing and grew up among the skyscrapers of Chicago, turned into an international reference for flamenco guitar? The adventures of Andrea Salcedo is so unusual and bizarre that she laughs herself when telling it. “Mine is a funny story.

Sometimes I look at myself in front of the mirror and ask myself: ‘What trouble did you get into, Andrea? ”, He sums up. For now, we will only advance you a detail. It was Paco de Lucía’s fault . Or, more specifically, a television advertisement.

Ciudad Guzmán, about 120 kilometers south of Guadalajara, Mexico. Year 1993. A 12-year-old boy, Hugo Salcedo, sees on TV a “commercial” for the brandy Don Pedro that stars the genius from Algeciras. It’s exactly 30 seconds of tuning, but that loud tinkle moves you.

And he insists ad nauseam to his parents, a former soccer player and a former volleyball player, that he wants to “learn to play like that man.” There is no Google and we are 9,500 kilometers from the Strait of Gibraltar, but such is their perseverance that the mother, Nora Sotelo, ends up finding a private teacher who claims to know some flamenco.

Two years later Andrea was born, and her brother decided to share his passion with her. “He was still almost a baby and he was already teaching me to clap to the beat,” says Andrea days before her performance — December 13 — at the Suma Flamenca festival.

The poison was inoculated. In the small land of the pianist Consuelito Velázquez or the violinist Rubén Fuentes, one of the great geniuses of mariachis and rancheras, the girl Andrea only had ears for flamenco falsetas.

He was walking to school, with the imposing Nevado de Colima volcano looming through the clouds, and he took to humming Pedro El Granaíno. At age 10, the whole family moved to Chicago and there they discovered guitarist Jesús de Araceli, who would become their mentor.

“To accept me as a student, he asked me to show him my hands. He weighed them and murmured: ‘They are elastic. Ahead”.

No, it is not easy to fall in love with soleás and seguiriyas in Wilco’s city of blues, taciturn jazz and alternative rock. And even less with a teacher as demanding as De Araceli, who did not let us take notes to stimulate memory and improvisation.

After each class, during the long hour on the return train, she took her notebook out of her purse and wrote down everything she remembered. In 2015, when he learned about the Córdoba Guitar Festival, he understood that the time had come to fly.

In every sense. “I was a wealthy girl who had never even traveled alone.” I said goodbye to my family, I passed the security control and suddenly I said to myself: “Where am I going? How does this work? What to do now?”.

When he settled in Spain, he only knew how to cook quesadillas and mushrooms sauteed with vegetables. And it wasn’t even clear with the conversion between pounds and grams.

“The first day I ordered a kilo of mushrooms, I called my mom and said, ‘I think I bought mushrooms for the whole week. Today, smiling in her beautiful apartment 100 meters from Puerta del Sol, she promises to prepare chilaquiles and mole for a next visit.

Andrea Salcedo draws his guitar, a jewel from Salvador Castillo’s workshop in Paracho (Michoacán), and shows a scribble on the upper edge of the case. It’s an autograph from Paco de Lucía. He was signed in the dressing rooms of the Chicago Symphony Center in 2012.

Getting to him was an odyssey. And when he did, he was unable to utter a single word. Now he remembers it with his everlasting smile: “I should have taken the opportunity to tell you the story of your brandy ad.”

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