CURRO de ALCALÁ was born Francisco Salguero, in Utrera, province of Seville, during the Spanish Civil War. Life for most Gypsies in Southern Spain was austere and Curro grew up with a tragic sense of life and his own mortality, blended with an indomitable sense of ”ghetto” humor. Gypsies in Spain shared those traits, addressed each other as “cousin,” and tended to be all distantly related. Curro was a second cousin of Antonio Mairena, considered the most recorded and most knowledgeable Flamenco singer in Spain.
In Utrera, Curro was raised with Fernanda and Bernarda and Gaspar de Utrera, all top recording Flamenco singers. As children they ran together, hung out with Perrate, highly esteemed cantaor. Part of that time Curro and his mother lived in Lebrija, in the house of La Perrata, a great unknown cantaora, sister of Perrate, and mother of the more famous Lebrijano. Curro learned the cantes of Lebrija from La Perrata.
He moved to Alcalá de Guadaira at the age of sixteen and went out on juergas with other youths, learning cante from the masters alive at that time. Joaquín de la Paula, his brother Juan Talegas, his nephew Manolito de María, and the guitarist Diego del Gastor – all hallowed Flamencos – were Curro’s personal friends and juerga companions as a young man, and in the Flamenco tradition, therefore his masters. Later he lived in the flamenco neighborhood of Seville called Triana, and learned the cante styles of Triana. He sang with La Cochinita, La Burra, Tragapanes – unknown geniuses of cante. He learned the cantes of Cordoba. Curro was influenced by the recorded cante of Chocolate, Terremoto, Lebrijano, and Camarón de la Isla. He worked with many of these great singers, as well as the famous Fosforito, Beni de Cádiz, and Lole y Manuel.
Utrera, Lebrija, Triana, and Alcalá were all crucial birthplaces of flamenco cante. As Curro lived in these places, their cantes grew in him. His favorite cante was the Soleá of Alcalá. Most of the cante of Alcalá was developed by the people who lived in the “Castle,” a gypsy ghetto, a cluster of caves in the hillside underneath the old moorish castle of Alcalá.
As a professional singer Curro performed all his adult life on the tablaos of Spain, with famous flamenco dancers, guitarists, and singers; and he performed abroad (Japan, Israel, USA). However his origins were ever with him, and he would spin stories of those old Gypsies with affection and respect. And that was how he sings their Flamenco, his Flamenco.