La Mari of Chambao exclusive interview

MUSIC is universal and because there are plenty of English language singers and bands playing to tourists and residents in Spain, it is sometimes easy to ignore local talent even though if given a hearing would be likely to appeal to the expatriate community.

One such band is Chambao, formed in Malaga by Maria del Mar Rodriguez Carencro (better known as La Mari) with two friends in 2001 when they became known as front runners in what was then dubbed Flamenco Chill.

Now 15 years later, having survived breast cancer and with a brand new seven piece backing band, La Mari will be playing at the Castillo Sohail in Fuengirola on June 11 as part of the Fuengirola celebrations.

She kindly agreed to give Euro Weekly News an exclusive interview prior to the concert as she would love to expand her fan base to include a larger number of English speaking listeners.

As she doesn’t speak English, the interview was conducted with a translator who also comes from Andalucia and who found her to be charming, friendly and in no way arrogant because of her success across the Spanish speaking world.

She says that she is very excited to be playing to a ‘home crowd’ as this will allow her to introduce them to her new work, her eighth album entitled Nuevo Ciclo (New Cycle) which shows how far she has developed musically as she introduces elements of Flamenco, Rock, Rap and Classical music which she sees as being a natural progression for her as the music itself is “organic, actual and very much live”.

The singer speaks candidly about her cancer and the fact that after the initial shock of being diagnosed, it became a stark reality which she had to deal with although she had help from the oncologists who dedicate their lives to helping those who suffer to fight their illness. Maria also gained strength from her friends and family as well as her “darling dog” who was there for her all of the time and seemed to sense that she was fighting off this dreadful illness.

Cancer changed her life and she now appreciates the little things that she might have overlooked in the past and she is even more careful with her diet, although she “lives life to the max because I appreciate the gift that I have been given with a second chance in life”.

As well as having her own band, La Mari is in constant demand to duet with other singers and speaks warmly of working with Ricky Martin who she says is a consummate professional. One of his associates wrote the song ‘Tu Recuerdo’ with a different singer in mind but Ricky Martin thought that she had the ideal voice although when his representative contacted her she thought it might be a joke as in her words “why would a big star like him want to record with little me?”

Apart from the fact that she is almost back in her home town, she loves performing in the open air “as there is nothing better than enjoying the balmy summer atmosphere and sensing the audience’s mood which in turn inspires me to give my best performance.”

Hopefully, readers will feel inspired by the story of such a thoroughly nice and genuine person who is also an outstanding and beautiful singer to listen to some of the Chambao catalogue which is easily viewed on YouTube or visit

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Share your story with us by emailing [email protected], by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page