Jaume Arnella (Barcelona, 1943), a singer and folk musician, writes songs and ballads, while also collecting and making known traditional and popular songbooks. He has published more than seventy discs and is a reference of Catalan songs and culture.
Between 1964 and 1974, he was director of the musical section of the bookshop Hogar del Libro and also co-founded the Telestar 33 group, which collects songbooks from everywhere. He is a member of the Grup de Folk which makes known traditional and popular songs that have considerable social repercussions in Catalonia and other countries.
Along similar lines, he sings as a soloist, many of the songs with lyrics by the writer Joan Soler i Amigó. Notable among these are “Les rondes del vi” and “Sé que venen pels camins”, which are included in the discs Les rondes del vi (1968) and És ara, amics, és ara (1968).
He has taken part in the creation of a number of musical groups and, in 1986, set out on a new stage of singing old and new ballads, including more than 350 he has composed himself. His disc Carregat de romanços (1990) is the first example of this. In 2020, the University of Lleida published an anthology of his ballads in the book Jaume Arnella.
He also works to promote Tradicionàrius, the cycles of traditional and popular songs which have been held every year since 1988. He revives ancient songs from different villages and publishes them in the form of songbooks. These include Les cançons de Beget (2001), Les cançons de Mataró (2005), and Les cançons de Santa Eulàlia de Ronçana (2010).
From 1998 to 2000, he worked with the Catalunya Ràdio programme “El pont de les formigues” and, from 2000 to 2015 (always with Jordi Margarit), with the RAC1 programme “La Primera Pedra”, where he performed more than 200 of his own songs. He also sets to music the work of Catalan poets, among them, Verdaguer, Sagarra, Riba, Vinyoli, and Estellés, and has brought out several discs in this area, including La raó al desig (1997). In 2007, he published the songs of the French poet François Villon, in Balades i Testament (2007). In his latest discs he has included poems by Narcisa Freixas and Iannis Ritsos.
He has received several awards for his work in researching and making known traditional and popular songs.
Web page: Francesc Viñas for AELC.
Documentation and photographs: Jaume Arnella Archive.