Program: María José Llergo

María José Llergo
Saturday, January 14, 2023  City Winery

María José Llergo - Vocals
Paco Soto - Acoustic Guitar
Miguel Grimaldo - Keyboards/Midi

María José Llergo was born in Cordoba, Spain in 1994. She is passionate about her southern Spanish and flamenco roots. At 25, she’s a graduate of the Catalonia School of Music, where she studied flamenco under Rosalía’s mentor José Miguel “Chiqui” Vizcaya and also experimented with salsa, gospel, and jazz. Not long after she completed the program, she was signed to Sony Music Spain.  

Her debut album, Sanación (Healing), was released in 2020 and pays tribute to her origins as she sings about love, nonconformity, struggle, and revolution. The release was acclaimed by Spanish critics as one of the best albums of 2020, and María José Llergo received the first Paco Martín Award for rising talent in global music. Sanación was also recognized by NPR as one of the 25 best albums the year in 2020. Her tribute to Lola Flores with her rendition of “Pena, Penita, Pena” won the Goya 2022 Award for Best Original Song, and her single “Nana del Mediterráneo” was featured in the film Mediterráneo.  

In “¿De Qué Me Sirve Llorar?” she uses field recordings to reproduce the sound of her grandfather’s weeding hoe slamming against dirt and rocks. She says it’s the first percussion beat she learned, along with the 12/8 flamenco meter ingrained in her Andalusian blood. Yet she explains that she also inherited a lifetime of prejudice, recalling the days when classmates used slurs like “g-psy” and maligned her for her skin color. “We have a past of  invisibility and a present of invisibility as well,” she says. 

Her material carries an ancestral consciousness of the Romani culture and history, filtered through elongated melismas and ethereal, electronic sounds. In Sanación, Llergo reminds both her country and the world that the injustices her people have faced—discrimination, exploitation, displacement, and sexism—are still very much alive today.


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