Jose Merce

Born in 1955 in Santiago (Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz), José Soto Soto, popularly known as Jose Merce, is a very renowned figure in the world of flamenco. Ever since he recorded his first album at the tender age of 13, he continues to enthral the music lovers.

His artistic talent certainly comes from his family members who were deeply associated with this style of Andalusian music and dance. Jose is the great-grandson of Francisco Valencia (Paco la Luz), a maestro in Siguiriyas, and also the nephew of Manuel Soto, the patron of Jerez flamenco.

Jose’s nickname comes from his first appearance in the choir of the Basilica de la Merced when he was just a boy. Even that time he accompanied some of the best known flamenco cantors, guitarists and dancers on several tours.

He worked with the famous “Madrid Trio” (the contemporary flamenco trio: Mario Maya, El Güito and Carmen Mora), and in a decade long association with flamenco dancer Antonio Gades and his company, he toured different parts of the world.

After performing in Ballet Nacional and few other national events, he started teaching flamenco music in cultural centres and also joined the International Courses of Flamenco Art in the Faculty of Flamencology and Andalusian Folk Studies as a teacher. In 1986, he won the Concurso Nacional de Arte Flamenco (National Flamenco Competition).

Jose also took part in the film Bodas de Sangre, by Carlos Saura, besides working with guitarist Enrique De Melchor, Tomatito, Vicente Amigo and Moraito that amplified his popularity chart with several albums, including Verde Junco (1983), Caminos Reales Del Cante (1987), Hondas Raíces (1991), Desnudando el Alma (1994), Del Amanecer (1998) and the 2000 hit Aire.

Although he is now settled in Madrid, as one of the prominent Flamenco artists in Spain, Jose Merce is a common face in many Andalusia festivals, including the annual Marbella San Bernabé. His recent albums like Lío (2002), Lo que no se da (2006) and the 2010 released Ruido are also very popular in the Spanish speaking world.

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