Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

NIÑA DE LOS PEINES, LA

(b Pastora Pavón Cruz, Seville, 1890; d there 26 November 1969) The most popular female flamenco singer of the century. Her stage name means 'the girl with the combs', probably from the lyric 'Comb your hair with my combs'. She had an unprecedentedly wide repertoire and recorded over 170 songs. She began at an early age in the Taberno de Ceferino in Seville and the Café del Brilliante in Madrid, where she settled in the 1920s; she sang often with Antonio Chacón, Pepe Marchena and Ramon Montoya; she married singer Pepe Pinto in 1933 (b José Torres Garzón, 1903, Seville; d there 6 October 1969), who nursed her through her last years and kept from her his own impending death (his Cante flamenco was on Fandango).

She was a personal friend of de Falla and of Lorca, whose poems she sang as bulerías. She retired in the 1940s but came back to the stage with her husband in the show España y su cantaora '49. Reissues include La Niña de los Peines '88 on Le Chante du Monde and Figuras del cante jondo '94 on Planet; she sings two tracks on Early Cante Flamenco '90 on Arhoolie. Her brother Tomás Pavón (1893-1952) shared her dedication to authenticity and was regarded by the influential critic Ricardo Molina as the most important flamenco figure of 1930-50, but he shyed away from the spotlight.