The Gipsy Kings are undoubtedly world-music veterans in a league of their own. The multi-Grammy nominated band of French and Gitano origins are currently on a U.S. tour promoting "Savor Flamenco," their ninth studio album. Not only is it their first release in six years, it also marks the 25th anniversary for the Gipsy Kings, who will make their way to San Diego on Aug. 31 for a sold-out show at Humphrey's By the Bay.
Even if you're not a flamenco music aficionado, it's easy to recognize the rich, raspy voice of Nicolas Reyes, the lead singer of the Gipsy Kings -- it's a vocal style takes you back in time. The band first became popular in the U.S. with the 1987 hit "Bamboleo." The Gipsy Kings sing in their Spanish Gitano dialect and are masters in perfectly revamping covers of such popular U.S. songs as the Eagles' "Hotel California," which was featured in the cult film "The Big Lebowski." They also made a famous cover of Randy Newman's "You've Got a Friend in Me," which was featured in "Toy Story 3" and "Dancing with the Stars." According to their bio, "the term gitano comes from 'Egiptano,' a Spanish term for 'Egyptian,' as the English word gypsy comes from Egyptian." Their commanding music has helped to bring back respect to the gypsy community.
The Gipsy Kings’ musical style has been called rumba flamenca, which combines traditional flamenco styles with Western pop, Afro-Latin rythyms, as well as Arabic, reggae and jazz music. Back in 1979, they were called Los Reyes, but after the Reyes' father passed away, his sons, Nicolas and Andres Reyes, teamed up with the Baliardos brothers during the annual Gypsy's Pilgrimage and renamed themselves the Gipsy Kings, an ode to their Gitano parents.
Until last year, the band was sort of the Susan Lucci of the Grammys, with six nominations in the Best World Music category. Then, in 2013, the Gipsy Kings finally won a Grammy in Best World Music Album for "Savor Flamenco." The release also marked the first time the Kings produced all original material for an album.
On their "Savor Flamenco" promo, the Reyes and Baliardo brothers said they were thrilled about passing their musical legacy on to their sons so that they can continue on as the Gispy Kings. Opening their tour are Ole' Noys, the sons of the Gipsy Kings' Tonino Baliardo and Nicolas Reyes. Those who were lucky enough to purchase tickets online to the sold-out show will receive a digital download of "Savor Flamenco."
The Gipsy Kings are at Humphrey's Concerts By the Bay on Aug. 31. For more info, go here.
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.