Huesca thematic

Number 66. November of 2003. Spanish language  Principal menu

Camila Gracia Salillas

Jota Singer;
exceptional contralto

     The best singer of jota that has given the province of Huesca and one of the better than Aragón. She was the favorite disciple of Fidel Seral, and when she was seventeen years old, her voice was of an exceptional contralto. It gained the first prizes of the contests of 1930 and 1932. She traveled through tremendous for Spain and Europe. Engravings are conserved her majestic interpretations of the styles of Pyrenees, her impeccable one «fiera de ay, de Fuentes» and her alluring duets with Gregoria Ciprés, from Huesca also . When died Seral (1954), began her fertile teaching in Huesca and Madrid.
      In 1980, she took the direction of the Official School of Jota of Huesca. The Friends of the Tradition Folk Upper Aragon of Huesca, in a publication 'in memoriam', recalling to Camila Gracia, of January 8, 1989, remember with affection.
      Camila Gracia Salillas was born in Huesca on the 15 of July of 1909 and since very young formed part of a chorus of singers directed by the nolvidable Marieta Pérez, being her actions in several churches of the city, but mainly in that of Capuchinas. A day of the summer of the year 1925, Fidel Seral (master of large joteros -aragonese jota singers-) strolled for the highway of Jaca and was seen pleasantly surprised by a youthful and charming voice that left of the interior of a dwelling. Quickly he called to the door of the youth, to who invited to attend his school of jota, situated in the 'Travesía del Espino '.The young one Camila with the approval of her parents, Petra and León (to the season foreman of the Dancers of Huesca), decided to be a jotera (aragonse jot singer).
      Her father (León Gracia), was nuy enthusiastic to the jota and all were satisfactions and hopes. When Camila was 9 years old, he listened her to sing in the serenade of San Lorenzo, next to the famous rondadores ('serendades singers') of that epoch and he knew at that moment a star was born To the few days to begin her lessons was presented in the bullring of Huesca, where all the assistants sensed the good ways that aimed the promising jotera. Subsequent trials and actions went outlining the artistic quality of Camila Gracia that in 1930 decided to be presented to the Contest of jota of the Festivals of the Pillar of Zaragoza , being raised with the prize. After, hired in Barcelona and Madrid, they received before leaving, in the Theater Olimpia of Huesca, homage of all the oscenses (Huesca inhabitants) by her triumph in Zaragoza.
      In Barcelona recorded her first disks and continued triumphantly her actions in all Spain. In 1932 it obtained important prizes, as that of the 'Friends of the Jota' of the House of Aragón of Madrid, in the contest that organized in the Circus Price of the capital of Spain; in the jury there were personalities as important as the Maestro Luna and the aragonese tenor Miguel Fleta. Also she repeated first prize in the Contest of the Pillar of that year.
      Camila Gracia, sang in many occasions to duet with Gregoria Ciprés; meetings dragged to the masses in theier actions by Spain, France and Portugal. At these two countries, Camila Gracia interpreted some of her couplets in the vernacular language. Miguel Fleta insisted repeated times to the jotera of Huesca so that was dedicated to the lyrical kind, but she rejected this tempting proposal because yours one, she used to say, was the jota. Their exceptional voice of contralto adapted perfectly to the attitude mezzo-soprano of Gregoria Ciprés and by this, their duets captivated and were first figures in the large spectacles of the jota of the 30 s, together with the better interpreters of the moment..

      The Spanish civil War, in whose fronts listened itself the braves jotas of these exceptional women , supposed a point and aside in their artistic lives. Gregoria and Camila withdrew; although this last one returned to sing at the beginning of the 50 s in an emission of Radio Huesca -radio station that inaugurated together to their master Fidel Seral and her companions Gregoria Ciprés and Ramón Bareche in the year 33-, as well as in the Theater Olimpia.
      In the year 54, after the death of Fidel Seral -her teacher-, founded the group San Lorenzo of E. y D. ( Education y Rest), singing in many places of Spain and the foreigner, teaching to some components of the group. In 1958 she is a time in Madrid divulging her styles of jota among the Friends of the Jota Aragonesa, with the ones she recorded some disks. In one of them, She impressed her famous jota of 'La Magallonera', that turns out to be unrepeatable and insurmountable even in our days. To her return to Madrid also gave her classes of jota in groups of: Tardienta, Ayerbe, Almudévar and Binéfar. In the year 1972, will be named teacher of song of the Municipal School of Jota, created in that date.
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      Camila Gracia has left the essence of her styles of jota in many of her students, that now are in the first line. Also we should emphasize the art shown along her life, lavishing her jotas and songs of church, there where has been required. Agrees to recallhre interventions in the eve to the 'Patrón San Lorenzo'. Camila Gracia, received along her fertile life of jotera many indications of affection and admiration through homages of the Centro Aragonés de Barcelona, Amigos de la Jota Aragonesa, Casa de Aragón and Peña Moncayo de Madrid.
      In the year 1975 the City Hall of Huesca recognized her merits, continuing the Folk Group Santa Cecilia, Santa Leticia and the one that the Amigos del Folclore Altoaragonés dedicated the year 85 next to Gregoria Ciprés and to which adhered everyone cultural jotero of Aragón , as well as central aragoneses, among others.
     The City of Huesca said good-bye to Camila Gracia at December 4, 1988 (she passed away on the 2) with the admiration and respect that she had earned himself among her compatriots. The City Hall of Huesca gave guard to the body without life of the unsurpassable Camila , since the Cathedral to her last dwelling, in the cemetery of Huesca. The entourage stopped in the Municipal school of Jota, where a young group of students dedicated her a couplet of farewell. 'The Magallonera' was listened with reverente silence in the squares of the Cathedral and Navarre. Cheers and applauses of the oscenses proclaimed to Camila Gracia as figure of first magnitude in the history of the City of Huesca.


* Manuel Tomé Bosqued
** Friends of the Folklore of Upper Aragon
*** Encyclopedia Aragonesa

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