Born on December 27th, 1968 as Ramón Jiménez Salazar, his transformation to Diego would arise after a family dispute in the same baptismal pool and “Cigala” thanks to the Losada brothers. Madrilenian from the Rastro, talent came easily to the family and, although his mother Aurora and sister were not professional singers, those who listened to her sing were impressed by the echoes of flamenco in her voice. At the same time, his father, the Andalusian Jose de Cordoba, earned a living on stages such as Torres Bermejas, El Corral de la Pacheca, and Arco de Cuchilleros. This influence helped a young Diego, barely 12 years old, win first place in the young flamenco artist competition of Getafe, Spain, and a prize in the TVE game show Gente joven, which elevated his status and allowed him to work with top artists such as Cristobal Reyes, Mario Maya and Farruco. In turn, artists such as Camaron, Gerardo Nunez, and Vicente Amigo continue to claim proceeds from recordings in the studio.
In 1997, his solo career was born with the album Undebel, produced by David Amaya and with guitarists Anton Jumenez, David Amaya, Paquete, and Tomatito. A second album followed in 2000, titled Entre vareta y canasta and, a year later, another titled Corren tiempos de alegria, featuring some of the jazz musicians who appeared in Trueba’s film Calle 54. Among them are two artists who would leave an indelible mark on his career: Bebo Valdes and Jerry Gonzalez. The album was nominated for a Latin Grammy for best flamenco album of the year.
What followed was an album with Jerry Gonzalez, Piratas del flamenco, which would hold them over for that year touring through Spain and Mexico until the arrival of 2002, the year in which Diego El Cigala tackled one of his dream venues: the Teatro Real of Madrid. From his concert performance with Nino Josele came a CD that turned into a monumental manifesto for the Madrilenian flamenco singer.
Getting to know Bebo and Picasso
After a little close collaboration with Bebo Valdes in the album Corren tiempos de alegria, both felt the need to deepen their work and found in Fernando Trueba the perfect companion to bring to life the all the ideas thought about between vocals and piano. They began just like that, cultivating the album Lagrimas negras almost in secret. In 2003, what began as an intimate and spontaneous project became an unstoppable boom that surpassed the limits of that which is flamenco and that which is latino and, supported by excellent reviews, the album established itself in the top lists of album sales for the next two years.
El Ondas would only be the first award of an large number: some memorable ones being a golden microphone, five Amigo awards, three Musica awards and, especially, two Grammys and five Latin Grammy nominations, being named Album of the Year by the New York Times’s Ben Ratliff in 2003.
After the wild success of Lagrimas negras, in 2005 Diego el Cigala decided that it was time to return to flamenco and did so with an homage to Pablo Ruiz Picasso. Musicians such as Paco de Lucia, Tomatito, Raimundo Amador, Josemi Carmona, and Jerry Gonzalez covered the lyrics that helped the album go gold in Spain and Venezuela. After this, in 2006, their first compilation was born, titled Cigala, and they would close out a magnificent year receiving the Latin Grammy for best flamenco album with Picasso en mis ojos, as well as the Grammy for best music video with Blanco y negro, by Fernando Trueba, recorded for Lagrimas negras.
Together with Cuban and Spanish musical greats, in 2008 boleros, coplas and tangos were re-done in what would become the album Dos lagrimas and which would include well-known hits such as Dos gardenias, Maria de la O, Historia de un amor, and Compromiso.
With a taste for mixing music and genres, in April 2010 Diego made another step in his musical career and traveled to Argentina for a new project: Cigala&Tango. This project, which is a live recording with a repertoire based on Argentine tango from the iconic Gran Rex in Buenos Aires, includes the collaboration of the group members of Diego’s band, as well as those who add a rich history of tango to the tracks: Nestor Marconi, and guitarist Juanjo Dominguez. Also contributing, more well-known Argentine artists: Pablo Agri on violin and Diego Sanchez on cello. As the host, friend, and lavish contributor, Andres Calamaro adds his unique mark to the project.
Cigala&Tango was announced in Spain in 2010 by the newspaper El Pais and was able to sell 74,000 copies in its first week during a difficult time for the music industry. Later, in October 2010, it exceeded 100,000 copies sold in Spain alone and ended the year by going gold in Colombia and Argentina, and for the fourth time, it won the prestigious Premio Lunas in Mexico and the Latin Grammy for best tango album.
Reinterpreting the Salsa
Having accumulated new success with his latest tour between 2014 and 2016 which took him around the world beginning in Australia, through all of America and Europe, all the way to Japan, just before the unveiling of his newest work, Diego El Cigala embarked on his “85 Tour”, an historic tour with great success in Europe alongside the Cuban legend Omara Portuondo, that commemorated the anniversary of the diva of Buena Vista Social Club.
Before his latest tour, Diego already knew his new objective: salsa music. This new project, planned to come out after the “85 Tour”, supposes an exciting and unique project that will feature the most relevant musicians of the genre: vocalists, producers, and instrumentalists. Conceived in six different locations—Cali, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Havana, New York, and Miami—the new project began to take shape after the birth of the new and long-awaited work by Diego El Cigala: Indestructible.