(Video link HERE.) The other evening we were invited to a concert of Andalusian-born Flamenco singer Estrella Morente, whose incredibly expressive, passionate and complex singing is legendary in Spain. We noticed that as Morente sang, members of the audience would occasionally say “Olé” (pronounced alé). Morante and her accompanists — three clapping as percussion, two playing guitars, one drums — would also utter “Olé “when one of them was performing particularly moving or daring passages.

Olé. This is not bull-fighting “olé” most Westerners know of. Rather, it seemed to be a sort of affirmation of “That is right“, as one Spanish friend put it, reserved for and in acknowledgement of, true expression.  It is a vocalization of “yes”.

Since that evening, Morente’s music has been resonating.  We can’t help but think how powerful it would be if we had a way to say and receive “Olé” when we are really putting it out there.

 The most important thing is to do go deep and be honest when you do something, and this allows each person to move forward and grow with their particular strengths and in their own way.—Estella Morente


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3 replies on “Estrella Morente and the Meaning of Olé

  1. We say “bravo” or “brava”

  2. This lovely video & post reminds me of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert’s incredible TED talk on creative genius, which was given in the wake of her bestseller memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love.” (She was grappling with the monumental task of how to follow up a bestseller.) In the talk, she traces a source for the word “olé”. If you’ve not seen it, the whole thing is thoughtful, but the “olé” part is around the 15:30 mark:

  3. Hannah, thank you so much for this! I know that TED talk well but had forgotten about the part about “olé”. Perfect. I’m going to post the excerpt tomorrow morning.

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