There are times that we want to be one thing and we end up dedicating ourselves to another. That is what happened to José Ramírez, ‘Chopi‘, who wanted to be a dancer and has ended up being a flamenco guitarist. The trade has changed, but not his passion for this Andalusian art.
He is the nephew of Emilio Ramírez ‘El Duende’, who initiated him into this world. Natural de Arahal (Sevilla), began his relationship with the guitar with flamenco at fifteen and has been linked to El Palacio Andaluz since 2017, where he is part of the cast of artists that give life to the flamenco show that takes place in this night tablao.
Admire ‘El Morito’ or Raúl ‘El Perla’, guitarists “in which I see, what I don’t find in others”. He is not considered a technical player, but rather of feelings. His dream, to become a good guitarist for dancing and for this he continues to learn every day.
He says that a soleá takes away his soul. Flamenco is everything to him, something he demonstrates every time he goes on the tablao. We invite you to know a little more about this young guitarist in the following interview.
Question (Q): Tell us, José, why are you a flamenco guitarist?
Answer (A): It all started with my love of flamenco dancing. I wanted to be a dancer like my uncle, Emilio Ramírez ‘El Duende’, but I was embarrassed and feared putting myself in front of the mirror to see me dancing.
Then, one day, good morning, my uncle who had a guitar and suggested that I start playing. I started self-taught, following his instructions and watching YouTube videos, until I started receiving classes from a teacher from the Puebla de Cazalla, Pepe ‘El Francés’, who corrected my mistakes and taught me in a more professional way to play. In this way, it was how I linked my life with the flamenco guitar.
(Q): How was your training as a flamenco guitarist?
(A): As I have already indicated, I started self-taught, continued with Pepe ‘El Francés’ and then completed my training with various masters of the touch such as Juan Manuel Flores, ‘El Perla’, ‘El Morito’, Paco Cortés and Pedro Sierra, among others.
(Q): And, although you are very young, what has been your professional career so far?
(A): I started at El Palacio Andaluz, a step that was very important for me, because I had little experience and forced myself to continue studying and training to measure up. I’ve been here for three years now and I don’t stop learning every day.
(Q): Have you participated in other professional projects, besides working at El Palacio Andaluz?
(A): Yes, in my village, Arahal, I have played several times. I have also participated in competitions with different partners, which by the way, one of them was second in the National Contest of Flamenco Art City of Ubrique, in the dance modality.
(Q): Why ‘Chopi’ is dedicated to flamenco?
(A): It is what has been lived in my house since I have used consciousness. Since I was little, I put on some flamenco and I stayed hours watching and enjoying. As I grew up, I was researching and discovering new artists.
(Q): Who has marked your career as a guitarist?
(A): Even though I play the guitar, my obsession has always been flamenco dancing. I know that the one who has marked me the most and has guided me in the world of flamenco, until now, has been my uncle Emilio. But well, when I started my most professional training, ‘El Morito’, which for me is one of the best guitarist in Seville, has greatly influenced me and from him I have truly learned how to play. Well and there I continue, learning every day (laughs).
(Q): As a flamenco guitarist, how do you define yourself?
(A): When I play, I do it on instinct. I do not say “I have rehearsed this in this way and I do so.” I play based on how I feel at that moment and what I feel on stage. I have always been told that I have a lot of strength in strumming, in the thumb, anyway, I don’t consider myself a very technical guitarist.
(Q): Who are your reference guitarists?
(A): For me, Paco de Lucía, Vicente Amigo or Jerónimo Maya are in Olimpo and I think that any guitarist has to have them as references. However, for me Raúl ‘El Perla’ and ‘El Morito’ are two artists in which I look and love them. When I see them play … I would not know how to explain what they have … but they are the most. They have what I don’t see others.
(Q): Chopi, as a guitarist, what would you like to become?
(A): To become a good dance guitarist, a professional made to touch the dancers. The flamenco guitar can be singing, dancing or soloist, because I love to accompany flamenco dancing.
(Q): What characteristics should that professional you aspire to have?
(A): A lot of creativity to mount the dances, technique to know how to perform that assembly and soul.
(Q): Let’s talk a little about your tastes, your favorite flamenco style?
(A): The taranto is a stylek that I really like to touch it, but the soleá takes away my soul.
(Q): Who would you like to share the stage with?
(A): Mainly, I would like to continue sharing tables with my guitar always (laughs), but there are dancers like Juana Maya or Pastora Galván with whom I would love to act.
(Q): And in your professional career, which artist you have performed with has surprised you the most?
(A): With the singer Jorge Canastero I have performed several times and I was really surprised to see him live. I had seen it in several videos and when they told me I was going to play with him, I really loved the experience. And with ‘Morito’, who has been a guitarist I’ve always heard about wonders, the first day I shared the stage with him, is that he didn’t even believe it.
(Q): For you, what is flamenco?
(A): It is everything, a way of life. I wake up thinking about what video I’m going to watch, what music to listen to … For me all my life revolves around flamenco. In addition, the guitar is an instrument that requires a lot of dedication. If you are not playing, you are listening and if you are not watching …
(Q): How is your experience at El Palacio Andaluz?
(A): Very good. I keep learning new things every day. I accompany the flamenco dances that are part of the two daily shows.
(Q): Why do we have to come to see the flamenco show of this tablao?
(A): For many reasons. The cast of artists is ten and every day we go on stage to give 100%. We defend flamenco by right. When an artist gets on the tablao, he always has to do his best because the public, whether he understands or not, has to take a good taste in his mouth from what he has seen.
If you visit Seville, you know, do not miss this young flamenco guitarist at El Palacio Andaluz. It is pure feeling. It’s José Ramírez, ‘Chopi’. You have to see it!
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