Rafael Usero Vilches was born on July 14th, 1972 in Utrera, Seville. His life has been linked to flamenco from a very early age, but he admits that his true talent was as a soccer player. At a young age he began to sing in a group from Seville with his brother Juan Luis.
He had to stop going to school because of the economic problems that his family was going through. This was how he ended up working in a family restaurant known as “El Punto”. The establishment was located on the outskirts of the town and was on the route that all the farm workers and slaughterhouse workers used every day. Being exposed to two professions as “flamenco” as these, Rafael got to hear day after day, many aficionados such as El Cuchara, Pitín, etc…
He started singing in peñas (cultural centres) and small festivals to the point that he decided to dedicate himself to singing exclusively. He started out in the tablao “Los Gallos” in Seville, from where he shortly moved on to Barcelona to work in “El Cordobés” for a year, along with his wife, the dancer, Carmen Lozano.
“El Cordobés” had always been a place where artists and dance companies got discovered. In a short time, he began working as a singer for the Andalucian Dance Company. A little later it was Cristina Hoyos who noticed this young singer. Finally, the celebration of the Flamenco Bienal of Flamenco Arts in 1998 served to lift Rafael to a level of importance in the world of flamenco, since he had already worked in shows like: “El Cante de Utrera” -in the Hotel Triana-, “Por Aquí Te Quiero Ver” -by Manolo Soler-, in addition to the “Company of Manuela Carrasco” and the “Andalucian Dance Company”.
From that moment on, he became a singer sought after by dance companies such as that of El Güito, Manolete, Carmen Cortés, Joaquín Cortés, Rafael de Carmen, Juana Amaya, Farruquito, Manuela Carrasco, Javier Barón, Israel Galván, Rafael Campallo, etc…
He won the contest at the Flamenco Festival of Nimes (France). He sang “pa´lante” in the concert series, “Flamenco Comes from the South” in the Central Theatre in Seville, sharing the stage with Estrella Morente. Soon he became sought after by the most important guitarists in the flamenco panorama such as Tomatito and Gerardo Nuñez with whom he performed at various events.
In the year 2000, in addition to working with all the previously mentioned artists, he formed part of the group for various performers at the Flamenco Bienal of Seville and even classified for the final contest. A few months later he joined Paco de Lucía to accompany him on his world tour.
Rafael Usero (born July 14, 1973, Utrera) is a Spanish flamenco singer more commonly known of his stage name Rafael de Utrera.
Rafael de Utrera began singing flamenco at a young age with the influence of his father, who owned a flamenco club in their hometown of Utrera. At the age of ten, Rafael had already performed around Andalucia with his brother. Rafael became more well known in the world of flamenco in the year 1997 when famous Spanish flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos invited him to join her cast on her world tour. In 2000, Rafael’s abilities as a singer gained more recognition when he was a finalist in the singing competition the XI Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla. Briefly after, in 2001, Rafael de Utrera made his final breakthrough when Paco de Lucía himself asked Rafael to accompany his world tour in Europe, Japan, and America.
Since then, Rafael has been touring frequently around Europe and North America. He has collaborated on albums with artists such as José Mercé, José Antonio Rodríguez, Niño de Pura, the documentary of the life of Paco de Lucia, Vicente Amigo’s latest album with Alejandro Sanz, Enrique Morente, and La Niña Pastori. The most recent collaboration was with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra under the direction of Vince Mendoza where he recorded a live album called “Proyecto Lorca”.
At the moment, Rafael is performing with the guitarist Vicente Amigo and his cast including his wife, flamenco dancer Carmen Lozano. He’s also started to record his first album which will be released 2012.