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A native of Jerez, Manuel de los Santos took his cantaor father's nickname, el Agujeta. He worked in his father's blacksmith shop but learned the tradition of cante through his father, and he later traveled throughout Andalusia "in quest of great singing ", carrying a portrait of Manuel Torre, who was the Master of the beginning of this century, the god of the Gipsy Cante. Torre was also a teacher and friend to Agujeta senior. It was said that when Manuel El Agujeta opened his mouth, "the hardest metals ever forged in a Gipsy smithy came forth". According to flamencologist Francisco Almazan, the principal characteristic of El Agujeta's cante was "la incontaminacion," referring to its purity. When preparing a recording, if El Agujeta was asked, "What will you sing, Manuel?", he would answer, perhaps, "Por Martinetes y por Siguiriyas," and then if asked, "What else?", reply, "There is no need for anything else."
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