Over the years the Gipsy Kings - which hail from the gypsy community in Arles and Montpelier in the south of France - has included singers and guitarists from the Reyes (Canut, Nicolas, Pablo and Patchai) and Baliardo families (Diego, Paco and Tonino). Lead singer Nicolas Reyes is the son of famed Flamenco singer José Reyes, who, with Manitas de Plata, sold millions of records in the 60's and 70's. The vigorous strumming of multiple acoustic guitars and the passionate vocals of the Gipsy Kings have best been defined by critics and fans as an exotic musical hybrid, "rumba flamenca".
There are no other examples of a non-English-speaking band (the group speaks in the Gypsy dialect of Gitane) with such a consistent winning streak in the US, where the group is the biggest-selling French act ever. Ever since the 1987 release of the blockbuster single "Bamboleo," from their platinum-plus debut album, the Gipsy Kings have dominated the World Music charts and sold more than 13 million albums worldwide - more than 3 million in the United States alone. The band captured the #1 spot on Billboard's World Music album chart with the gold certified "BEST OF GIPSY KINGS," which remained on the chart for more than a year.
Albums including the gold-certified "MOSAIQUE," "ALLEGRIA", "ESTE MUNDO", "GIPSY KINGS LIVE", "LOVE & LIBERTÉ," and "TIERRA GITANA" have provided a steady fuel of hits to Billboard's World Music, Latin, and Billboard Top 200 charts. For several years running, the Gipsy Kings have been consistently voted Billboard's #1 World Music Artist and #1 Latin Pop Artist in the magazine's year-end awards. In addition, their song "Sin Ella" from 1991's Este Mundo was chosen by Peter Weir for the soundtrack to his 1993 film, "Fearless."
Two recent PBS specials contribute to the Gipsy Kings' ongoing success story. A documentary, "Tierra Gitana" - which aired on hundreds of public television stations in 1996 - explores the band's roots in gypsy culture and their rich family heritage in flamenco music. Filmed in concert and in the Gypsy camps of Arles, "Tierra Gitana" provides a glimpse at the vanishing lifestyle of a vibrant and traditional people. The hour-long film was released as a home video in December, 1996. A second program, filmed in performance at Washington DC's Wolf Trap, captures the excitement of the band's live show in a 60-minute special. The live special is currently in distribution to PBS stations around the country.