Raquel Sandes Antúnez, former member of the group Acetre, presents her first solo album as a singer
Raquel Sandes Antúnez (Olivenza, February 18, 1975) is undoubtedly one of the most memorable faces of the famous group ‘Acetre’, to which she belonged as a singer and transverse flute for 15 years. In love with Olivenza and the biculturalism that characterizes it, she was also the founder of the ‘Além Guadiana’ association, which for years was dedicated to strengthening and spreading the city’s Portuguese roots and strengthening ties with the neighboring country. Right now she is presenting her first solo album as a singer, ‘Bem-Haja!’, which she accompanies with a careful book in which she summarizes feelings and artistic-musical manifestations of clear Spanish-Portuguese roots.
− What led you to materialize this recording and literary project?
− They say that the good things in life come without looking for them. And that happened with this job. There are a series of circumstances, people who bet on me, who help me and encourage me, which in the end makes me seriously consider recording a solo album. Something that not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined. And less being such an elaborate job, with musicians, a producer and collaborators of this quality.
− What is ‘Bem-Haha!’ And what would you highlight about his work?
− ‘Bem-Haha!’ is a Portuguese expression of thanks that goes beyond thanks. It is thanks from the heart, from the soul. And it becomes the title of this album-book precisely because after so many good things that this experience has given me, I couldn’t think of anything that could better summarize my feeling.
In the end, it has become a multidisciplinary piece of art in which we can find, in addition to music, a book containing original drawings by Ginés Liébana, who at 101 years of age is the last living representative of early 20th century Surrealism in Spain, photographs by Alberto García-Alix, a prologue by Jesús Sánchez Adalid and José Ribeiro e Castro, poems by Ginés Liébana himself, Duende Josele and Julián Portillo, writings by Raúl Alonso, Carlos Tristancho, Guillermo Fernández Vara, Joaquín Fuentes, Eduardo Naharro, Marce Solís and a design by José Antonio González Carrillo.
− Who has helped you get this work off the ground?
− It is a self-published work, therefore, at an economic level I have not received help, but I have had contributions from many friends in the different phases of the project. In the musical part, Celia Romero, Luis Pastor, Cira, Mili Vizcaíno, José Luis Tristancho, Luis Caracol, Gene García, Paulo Cachinho and the Grupo de Cantadores de Redondo collaborate with me… You couldn’t ask for more!
All with their enormous generosity and affection have made me feel the luckiest person in the world. And it also includes a tribute: a very emotional participation due to the story it contains, my mother Pepi Antúnez, the brilliant tango performer.
− It is receiving very positive reviews for having included songs in Portuguese. What do you feel when you sing fado?
-It’s like traveling to the depths of your being. It’s singing with feeling on the surface, but at the same time and even though it’s a very sad and heartbreaking song, it gives you a kind of relief when you sing it, just like when we cry. Amalia Rodrigues explains it in a stanza of ‘Foi Deus’: «If I sing, I don’t know what I’m singing. Mix of tenderness, saudade, ventura and maybe love. But I know that singing, I feel the same as when you have an upset and the tears on your face make us feel better».
− You have been one of the Oliventinas who have worked hardest to preserve, recover and spread the Portuguese roots of Olivenza. How do you think Oliventine biculturality should continue to be defended?
− Of course, we must continue defending that biculturality of Olivenza. I think it is a privilege, a sign of identity that sets us apart; intrinsic characteristics in people who were born in Olivenza and that is sometimes very difficult to explain. So much so that many times the Oliventinos themselves are not aware of it. And each one must bet on that biculturality from the space they occupy in society. In my case, this album is proof of that.
− And how has that biculturality been reflected in your musical work?
−In a natural way, my Portuguese part flowed, and there are many references. First of all, the title: ‘BEM-HAJA!’, an expression that has no equal in Spanish… There are songs sung in Portuguese, I have the collaboration of Portuguese artists, and also in the book the two languages are interspersed without there being a translation in none of the cases.
− How is the album being received in Portugal?
− Very good. The Portuguese media are taking an interest, as well as different personalities from the institutional and cultural fields. They are very curious to hear an Oliventina singing in Portuguese, and singing fado.
− How can the disc be purchased?
− Although there is still no date for its official presentation, it will be launched on digital platforms on March 25. It can also be purchased by sending an email to [email protected] or at different points of sale in Olivenza and other cities.
− After this experience, do you have in mind to continue creating and directing a solo musical career?
−I never had in mind a project as ambitious as ‘BEM-HAJA!’, and I have focused on it more as the realization of a personal dream than as the beginning of a solo musical career.
My reward is having had the opportunity to sing again, the freedom to decide the songs and every detail of this work. Some plant a tree…. I have recorded a record-book.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.