- Rafael Abuchaibe (@RafaelAbuchaibe)
- BBC News World
“Sad trumpet ballad, for a past that died…”.
Anyone who listens to the lyrics of this classic raphael songI would say that its illustrious interpreter is eternally nostalgic, in love with the past.
But the day after receiving the Billboard award for his 60-year career on stageand with the launch in Latin America of a four-part documentary about his career called “Raphaelismo”, the Spanish singer and actor told BBC Mundo that he is not one to look back.
“I never look back. There is a phrase that I always say -badly said-, which is ‘forward’, always ‘forward’“, says Raphael, who in past interviews explained that he writes his name with ph “so that it can be read in all languages”.
With outstanding hits such as “Hablemos del amor”, “Yo soy qué”, “Escándalo” (composed by Willy Chirino) or “Mi gran noche”, Raphael is one of the clearest representatives of the “romantic ballad stars”.
On the artist’s legacy in music, the Spanish producer Paco Salazar commented: “Raphael is a paradigm. He is to Spain what Elvis is to the United States; the closest thing we have here to what the King of Rock meant.”
His captivating style, his expressiveness on stage -sometimes bordering on histrionics- and songs like “Digan lo que say” or “QuéSabe Nobody” spread rumors about his sexuality, something about which the artist himself has spoken in interviews to say that “they have amused him”, even if they were not true.
He has also referred to the great scare he experienced due to his serious health problems with his liver, until in 2003 he received a transplant that gave him an injection of life.
It is almost inevitable not to be drawn to the details of a career that spans six decades and has seen the world evolve in ways that are difficult to foresee.
Whether for the love of romantic songs -which found in Raphael one of its most theatrical interpreters-, for the nostalgia of times that are still alive thanks to stars like him who, even approaching 80 years of age, continue to make the stages vibrate …
Or simply out of curiosity to understand what drives him, because someone who has managed to stay active for so many years in a world as demanding as that of entertainment must be doing something right.
So, since curiosity is an intrinsic part of the spirit of BBC Mundo, we start the interview with the third option.
How does someone stay current on stage for 60 years?
Well, putting a lot of will into it, really liking what you do.
It is an act in favor of others, that they have a good time, that they enjoy your songs. That you enjoy them so much that they become part of your life.
You see it even in people with Alzheimer’s: the last thing they forget is songs.
That will was key, as seen in the new series about his life, especially during that first stage of his career, one of participation in talent contests and touring small stages in Spain. Do you consider that that time was the most difficult of your race?
No, not everything was roses, but I did not see them as difficulties. They were just little bumps with which one has to learn to lift one’s head. Because in the end, what was in my head was to be at the Olympia, it was to go to Paris.
In those early years, there’s a lot of camaraderie in his career., Do you think that was a key part of Raphael’s success?
In the world around me, there is a lot of camaraderie. But Raphael’s story would have been written the same, beyond fellowship.
And this is thanks to the tenacity that I have, not for anything else but for the tenacity.
And where does Raphael’s tenacity come from?
He was born with it. Always, from a very young age, I have done what I felt I had to do and it was given to me.
I remember the slap my mother gave me the first time I came home late, after the theater, for the age I was -11 years old at the time and I arrived at 3 in the morning-.
And I told him: “Well, we’re off to a good start, because that’s what I’m going to do every day. I’m going to be an artist, I’m an artist, and I’m going to come at this time every day because that’s when the work finished.” .
And I’ve always been like that, I’ve always done what I wanted and I should have done.
And where does that conviction come from? doCWhat is it like to have such certainty about something in life?
It comes from the depths of my heart. I can’t be anything else.
How deep is Raphael’s relationship with Latin America?
Do you want me to give you my ears? Because you are wonderful. Latin America is wonderful.
The first time I set foot on the continent, I felt that I was predestined to go.
We are already several generations that have grown with Raphael in the soundtrack of our lives, especially when it comes to romance. what?How do you see love today, in this age of networks and the Internet?
There is everything, because not everything is bad.
In addition, you always have to have a space for the hope that everything that is wrong can be fixed.
Maybe it’s not an immediate fix, but I don’t think people are stupid at all.
I believe that people are going to return to the old ways of relationships, because it has already happened on other occasions that new trends are imposed at breakneck speed.
And things are back on track.
What advice would you give to romantics reading it right now?
Let them be stoic and hold on, because it will come back.
And to those who admire six decades of Raphael on stage?
Well, everything can be done. Maybe not as well as you imagined, but you get very close.
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