Raquel Kurpershoek

showcase at Jazz I Am Barcelona
Flamenco in her blood

On March 16 and 17, Barcelona showcase festival and international jazz meeting Jazz I Am invites three acts based in the Netherlands: Guy Salamon Group, the duo Sanem Kalfa/Teis Semey, and the trio with Spanish/Dutch flamenco singer Raquel Kurpershoek. The latter will offer her personal interpretation of flamenco with a global twist.

She is still rather new to the international professionals who will be gathering at Jazz I Am. In the Netherlands, Raquel Kurpershoek Jaldón (born in 1998) started making a name for herself after winning several talent contests from 2016 on. She studied Cuban, Brazilian and Indian music at Codarts (University of the Arts in Rotterdam) and, through the Erasmus programme, flamenco singing at the Rafael Orozco Conservatory of Music in Córdoba (Spain). In addition, Raquel has devoted herself to studying sign language. Traslasierra is an autobiographical documentary of 2020 about the relationship of deaf people to (flamenco) music, and how to combine these two worlds. It has won a string of awards in Spain since its release.

Following the 2021 EP Mil Cosas (named after the Cuban bolero performed by Alberto Beltrán in 1957), Raquel Kurpershoek’s first collection of original compositions, Nizami, was released in the autumn of 2022. Made with support from Rotterdam foundation Droom en Daad and Nijmegen’s Music Meeting, Nizami is inspired by The Seven Wise Princesses, an adaptation for children of an epic poem by 12th-century Persian poet and philosopher Nizami Ganjavi. Here, the songs are a result of the collective of Raquel, Spanish guitarist Alejandro Hurtado and Dutch percussionist Danny Rombouts.

Danny: ‘Raquel is the queen of melodies to me. When she brings a melody to the table, Alejandro and I immediately want to explore it and build upon it. I have played quite some latin music, and I still do, but this is the perfect sidestep into flamenco for me. Also because Alejandro is more of a traditional flamenco player; Raquel and I both learn from him and his approach again. The combination brings us the best arrangements imaginable.’

Raquel’s father traveled the world, and brought home CD’s from all over. Raquel’s mother Teresa Jaldón is from Huelva in the region of Andalusia. She moved to Amsterdam and started her flamenco dance school, Flamenco Amsterdam, in 2000. It is still thriving. To say that flamenco is in Raquel’s blood is an understatement, but she draws from many styles when writing and singing. ‘You can study flamenco at Codarts, but not as a singer. So I took up Indian vocals, and there I found some common ground. Which made me even more curious to dig into the flamenco vocal tradition.’

Raquel had no other option but go to Spain. ‘I have such a love for flamenco, it’s a deep, deep feeling. I had to hear it, to sing it, to experience it. And life itself in Andalusia is flamenco to me. Not just the music, if you know what I mean. The country, the people, being together, the gestures, the body language. Theatrical expression! That has always been there in my family. People there are making music just by discussing, by talking to each other. It felt totally natural for me to join in. I wish to bring the flamenco expression to all the music that I love.’