Nat King Cole performed frequently in Latin America, and also recorded three Spanish-language albums.
Nat King Cole performed frequently in Latin America, and also recorded three Spanish-language albums. AP
From the 1940s through the mid-'60s, Nat King Cole was one of America's most beloved and familiar singers. But his fans might not be as widely aware of the crooner's Latin-American tours — or with the three Spanish-language records he released in the 1950s. Now, some Spanish-speaking musicians have created an album paying tribute to Cole's Latin hits. L.O.V.E. is a collection of Cole's Spanish standards, as well as some of his English hits translated into Spanish.
Issac Delgado, one of the performers, grew up in Cuba.
"Nat King Cole is a myth, an icon for my generation," Delgado says. "When Cole came to Cuba, he seduced everyone. He had the uncanny ability to make you feel that he was singing specially for you."
Nat Chediak, who produced the tribute recording, says he agrees: "There's no self-respecting Latin who comes from the world of music who does not know Nat King Cole."
Beyond The Expected
Chediak says they made an effort to go beyond Cole's three Spanish-language albums.
"We reached out to Cole standards that he never did in Spanish," Chediak says. "We wanted to extend it to the entire Cole songbook."
The album also includes two duets featuring Delgado and Nat King Cole's brother, Freddy Cole. Freddy never sang with his brother, but he played piano on some of his recordings. He says it was Nat's personal manager at the time who helped create the original Spanish-language albums.
"Carlos Gastel was Latino," Freddy Cole says. "They put together this project, and it became one of the best sellers Nat had in his career."
Delgado says he made no effort to imitate Cole in his performance.
"We didn't want to make a carbon copy of what had already been done before," Delgado says. "We wanted to be respectful, but at the same time do it in our own way."
Delgado says it's important to him that the songs sound original in Spanish.
"I'm very happy that people respond to it," he says, "because when they know the song in English, they don't have a reference for it in Spanish. For them to accept it is very gratifying."