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The true story of Rita La Cantaora, the Jerez artist behind the popular saying

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The name of Rita La Cantaora He is better known for the popular saying than for his artistic talent. Expressions such as “Rita la Cantaora is going to do it”, “Rita La Cantaora is going to go” or other variants of the popular saying have prevailed in the Spanish proverb but few know its origin.

Rita Giménez García was born in Jerez de la Frontera in 1859. From a very young age, Rita stood out for her talent for flamenco singing and dancing. She started singing couplets in her homeland but He soon went to Madrid to sing alongside the most renowned artists. in the capital’s cafes.

Between 1884 and 1895, Rita shared the stage with artists such as José Barea, Juana la Macarrona and las Borriqueras. The malagueñas and the soleares were her specialty and soon the magazines and publications of the time began to dedicate their spaces to her. Magazine The dwarf In 1885 he offered him some verses in which he highlighted her beauty and grace singing, with these words: “From the Andalusian people, lady, all the praise deserves, that your gaze enchants, that a rose that blooms, is Rita La Cantaora.”

Its fame grew at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. It was said that she was so passionate about what she did that He never turned down a performance, no matter what he was paid for it. and his name appeared on countless posters. Many times, if the audience asked him, he would start singing or dancing without asking for anything in return.

In this role as a tireless singer, devoted to flamenco singing and dancing beyond the money it could provide her, seems to lie the origin of the popular saying. One of her explanations suggests that she was born from her own colleagues who, when they did not want to perform in some cafe or theater, They recommended Rita La Cantaora, because she always accepted the performances. Another theory, however, indicates that the expression arose from those who were somewhat envious of her and that, when they did not agree with the payment for her performances, they responded with the phrase “Let Rita La Cantaora do it” in a derogatory tone.

The truth is that his passion did not generate fortune for him, despite his talent. Rita lived almost all her life in the humble neighborhood of Carabanchel Alto, after meeting and becoming friends with the dancer Patricio el Feo with whom she went to live. There she met the dumper Manuel González Flores, who was her husband. He was a widower and had a daughter and four grandchildren. With no children of her own, when Manuel died suddenly in 1930, Rita took care of them and she dedicated the rest of her life to taking care of her family.

His last performance on stage was in 1934, at the age of 75, when her friend Fosforito invited her to a solidarity festival at the Café de Magallanes in Madrid to benefit a colleague who was having a hard time.

The following year he would remember this performance in an interview, with the following words: “I will not forget it as long as I live. All the old meetings. That! Now there is nothing but good vocals and fandanguillos, fine stuff, but nothing… The wisdom of singing and dancing is over” (sic).

In what was the last interview, for Stamp, under the headline “Rita La Cantaora lives forgotten in Carabanchel Alto”, the journalist Luisa Carnes lamented that the artist had fallen into oblivion: “so famous, she became just a saying for the new generation,” she wrote. At that time, Rita lived far from the stage and was dedicated to her grandchildren. “I have lived like a queen and now I am more honest than rats” (sic), said the singer.

“I had many men at my side, who would have elevated me… and I married a vorquetero from Carabanché. The way! If one overcomes the end that awaits him in eya, he would live otherwise.“(sic), said the cataora, before starting off with one of her couplets. “Evils that time brings, who could penetrate them, to remedy them, before they experience harm.”

In 1936, with the start of the Civil War, the authorities evacuated the inhabitants of Carabanchel to Zorita del Maestrazgo, a town in Castellón where he lived his last days until he died, from asystole, the June 29, 1937 at age 78.

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