Tomás de Perrate.
Tomás de Perrate was born in Utrera, Sevilla, in 1964 and although he was a relatively late starter in the world of flamenco, he has become one of the top performers on today’s flamenco scene.
He made his first appearance with other members of his family in the Christmas of 1999, on a recording named Utrera Cante la Navidad, which was a kind of traditional flamenco Christmas get-together where songs by the name of Campanilleros, were sung in a festive gypsy spirit. These songs are thought to have been the invention of Tomás’s grandfather, Manuel Torre, and Tomás is one of the best performers of these styles.
The son of the late El Perrate, one of Utrera’s greatest flamenco singers, Tomás can boast of a lineage that is overflowing with numerous masters of the gypsy flamenco, which includes Maria La Perrata, El Lebrijano, Gaspar de Utrera and Manuel de Angustias to name but a few.
His father had married Tomasa Torres, daughter of the mighty Manuel Torres; hence Tomas is the grandson of this illustrious singer from Jerez de la Frontera. Even though Manuel Torres had died more than thirty-years before Tomás was born, his style of singing would have been very much alive with-in the family of the Perrates.
Tomas’ paternal linage also relates him with numerous other renowned flamencos like the mysterious La Serneta, La Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera and Bambino. His family is also related to Los Negros de Ronda; a gypsy dynasty that includes the clan of La Malena.
Tomás de Perrate’s first live performance outside of his native land was in France in 2001 when he performed at the Festival de Mont de Marsan along with Pepa de Benito. Later the same year he would make his first appearance at the Potaje Gitano festival in Utrera, and the sound of his voice and the purity of his songs astounded everyone.
It is true that the older generation of flamencos like Tomás’ father, were not that interested in taking their flamenco outside of their hometown; instead preferring to perform in the taverns and fiestas of Utrera.
However, Tomás de Perrate has experimented with his family’s flamenco custom and he performs a more commercial style of flamenco that is based on this tradition.
He understands the importance of his roots, but he believes one must be able to adapt to the reality of flamenco; yet he recognizes that one must never lose the respect of the art of their ancestors whilst finding their own path: He also realizes, as did his father, that his family’s flamenco legacy is not necessarily superior, nor inferior, to any others.
In 2006 he released his first solo CD named Perraterias; a collection of bulerias, soleares, siguiriya, and tangos, which as the title might suggest, was dedicated to the tradition of his father and his aunt La Perrata.
On this recording Tomás has the echo of his father when singing the bulerias and soleá and it demonstrates his great knowledge and flair with the primitive forms of this art.
Tomás is a natural with these styles and his voice vibrates with a chilling duende that is full of profound dark sounds that almost shake the room as he sings.
But he also mixes his flamenco with jazz and reggae and much of this first recording is a fusion of perfectly blended musical styles that are complemented by his coarse gypsy voice.
On an earlier recording, Tomás collaborated with his brother Gaspar de Perrate and Ana La Turronera, and this CD demonstrates he is capable of reproducing the family’s flamenco technique with ease.
Tomás de Perrate is one of the most respected singers on the flamenco scene at present and his earth shattering gypsy voice has earned him fans world-wide.
One wonders how it is possible for such a polite man, who speaks accordingly, to possess such a monstrous voice when singing; an echo that is normally only associated with the past.