In 2014, the MMI created the Masters of Mediterranean Music Award to honor the great maestros of Mediterranean music. The award itself was designed by Vicente Carrillo, an internationally renowned flamenco guitar maker. Learn more about the craftmanship behind the making of this award.
Two of the greatest flamenco artists today, guitarist Pepe Habichuela and singer Jose Mercé, were the first artists to be given the new award. At the MMI spring concert on April 8, 2015, MMI directors Matthew Nicholl and Javier Limón gave harmonica player Antonio Serrano the award in recognition of his work fusing jazz and flamenco, and for his innovative contribution to flamenco music by introducing the harmonica to the genre.
Read more about the winners below.
Pepe Habichuela is considered one of the great flamenco masters and one of Spain's finest contemporary guitarists. His musical contribution is unmeasurable, being one of the first flamenco musicians who incorporated other musical styles into flamenco, including Indian music and jazz, working with artists such as Don Cherry and bassist Dave Holland.
José Mercé is one of the major flamenco phenomenons of all time. Having made 17 albums since his debut in 1968 and sold more than 600,000 copies in the last 15 years, the singer-songwriter from Jerez is an artist who has known how to transmit, like few others, that flamenco is for everyone, making it popular while keeping it authentic.
Mercé's flamenco covers of artists such as Manu Chao, Luis Eduardo Aute, Victor Jara, Louis Armstrong, Pablo Milanes, Pop Tops, and Joan Manuel Serrat position him as a key artist in Spanish music. He received the Medal of Andalusia in recognition to his cultural contributions.
His latest album, Mi Única Llave, published by Blue Note, was produced by MMI's artistic director Javier Limón and features the Berklee Balkan Pletenitsa Choir.
Antonio Serrano is one of the most promising young Spanish jazz and flamenco musicians in Spain. He was born in Madrid in 1974 and began studying harmonica under his father at age 7. He later studied piano, violin, percussion, music reading, music history, art history, and choral ensemble in conservatories in Madrid and Alicante, Spain.
Serrano was a member of Paco de Lucía's group for 10 years. It was as a member of this group that he introduced harmonica to flamenco. Serrano has played and/or recorded with artists such as Larry Adler, Toots Thielemans, Winton Marsalis, Jerry Gonzalez, Chano Domínguez, Lou Bennett, Jorge Pardo, Vicente Amigo, Tomatito, Armando Manzanero, Luis Salinas, and Javier Colina, among others.
Serrano's latest album is called Harmonious. He been touring this album in Europe and Australia over the past few years.