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We have lost a friend while the world has lost one of the great voices of folk music. Carmeta Mansilla was a psychedelic folk singer, best known as the lead singer for the folk band Can AM des Puig on the Book of AM project and the Intxixu project (featuring Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth). If you want to keep Carmeta music and voice alive, please, share this Memorial page.
She was wearing a long white dress
her eyes sparkled in the sun
her voice always attuned
to her Mediterranean roots...
To Carmeta - who brought our dream songs into reality far better than we ever imagined would be possible. Thank you! - Leslie MacKenzie
She brings to my head the parable of the talents. A person like Carmeta with so many natural gifts: good nature, good looking, jovial and the owner of an amazing voice and perfect timing. I remember the first improvised session that we had with her in Deia (Mallorca) in 1977 singing a couple of the Book of AM songs. Her voice and timing were just immaculate. I always thought that after finishing our recording of the Book of AM in 1978 she was going to achieve musical greatness, but that never happened and it really pushes me to accept the fact that unless the talents are guided into a fruitful direction nothing much happens and a shade of wasted talent syndrome could take over what could have been continuous success.
From Deia we returned to Ibiza in 1978. Carmeta and her partner Tony Bullock followed us there and they were squatting in an old tower near the San Miquel beach. We started recording the Book of Intxixu songs in the San Mateo church (we did not have electricity at Can Am des Puig) kindly offered to us by the then old Parroco de San Mateu. It was a huge project and I finished it two years later after we had moved to Scotland. By then Carmeta was pregnant and her musical career was taking a turn into a rather chaotic path with Tony. They did some kind of busking tour in Germany and then they returned to Mallorca. No one offered her any proper musical outlet/project and when I next met her in 2003 she told me that she had tried to sing with some groups but none of them were serious enough and she gave up. When I approached her in 2010 to complete, along with Leslie and Will Z, the recording of the Book of AM, Part III and IV, she agreed quite enthusiastically though after so many years she was plagued by doubts about her singing abilities. Her fears were totally unfounded and her singing was as magical as ever had been.
La ausencia es un hechizo del alma
que el tiempo marca dia a dia
y la convierte en olvido
29 April 2014
I was brought up in a solid, down-to-earth, working class environment in the north west of England. I had a loving family and a good basic education, but I couldn't find any magic in my surroundings. At 17, I decided with amateur flautist Tony Bullock to travel to Deia, taking a bus from Manchester to Barcelona then an overnight ferry to Palma de Mallorca. Carmeta was on the same boat and she approached us as we disembarked, asking if we knew anywhere good to have breakfast. To me, at that time, she was a perfect vision of the beautiful hippy girl: flowing Indian skirt, long hair, confident stride ... We didn't know anything about breakfasts but it didn't matter. She invited us to visit her brother Fernando in Bunyola and there was absolutely no reason to decline. A week later, she travelled with us to Deia, where Daevid Allen saw that we were taken in by some kind Germans who happened to be renting a house next door to Juan and Leslie. Within a few days, we were playing music together, and within a few weeks, we started to record the first Book of Am.
This was the magic I had been starved of, that I knew existed but that everyone said couldn't be real - but I believed, it came true and it changed my life forever. I now live and work in a very different world, but - because of Carmeta, and Juan and Leslie - I know there's another, much kinder world out there. And, as I help prepare my own children for their first long journeys alone, I am unafraid for them.
Carmeta could use her voice as an instrument. She could improvise a melodic harmony and a rhythmic accompaniment or unleash a soaring solo to rival any electric guitar. Her dynamic range was vast and dramatic, yet her softly whispered consonants are the gentle yet passionate scratches of a lover. She had suffered from depression - (how can that be?) - yet when I last spoke with her she still had the child-like wonder of someone who loves the whole world, whenever she said 'wow'.
Hasta luego, Carmeta... Dama Mediterrànea. Descanse en Paz Eterna.
Carmeta was fantastic: always smiling, laughing and telling amazing stories of her life... She called me "fichaje".
I had the great opportunity to meet her and to spend with her, Leslie and Juan highlights of my life. During February 2012, Carmeta took us to her house in Soller for the recordings of Book of AM Parts 3 and 4. I was a bit nervous about producing the album knowing she was ill, unable to sing few months ago, and without having the possibility to listen to any 'recent' demos. The first night, while we were waiting for Leslie and Juan, she sang in top of the basic tracks : her voice was still astounding, even better than on the first Book of AM album, full of power, softness and maturity... and all my doubts were gone.
One afternoon, Carmeta, Leslie, Juan and I went together to Deia where everything started 35 years before. This walk brought memories back. In November 1977, Carmeta decided to give up her career as a doctor and to become a singer. She moved to Deia, Calle Ramon Llull, next door to Leslie and Juan house and she met them because she needed a paper to start a fireplace fire. After the recordings of Book of AM Parts 1 and 2, Carmeta went to Ibiza and lived (like a pirate, she said) in an abandoned tower working as a translator using an old typewriter. She finally became an English teacher for Palma de Mallorca prisoners.
Later in 2012, I came back to Mallorca to take a holiday and to compose my 12 Visions album. I tried to visit Carmeta but I couldn't because she fell seriously ill. I let to her friend in Soller the mixes of Book of AM Parts 3 and 4 and my meditation album with a letter. She wrote me she listened to my music to relax and feel better, and she told me she cried like a child after the listening of the Book of AM. We kept in touch through the web and letters. She was really happy when I explained to her the Book of AM was sold out in two hours.
Now, we are working on a complete Book of AM box with original tapes remixed and remastered, and outtakes. I feel sad when I think she will never hear the complete work.
Carmeta was a star, a shooting star but with so much light that still shines and will shine forever in my heart. Those days I spent with her in Soller were among the most beautiful days in my life; I'll never forget her and do my best to keep her music and her voice alive.
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