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From the 1940s through the mid '60s, Nat King Cole was one of most beloved and familiar American singers.

(Soundbite of song, "L.O.V.E.")

Mr. NAT KING COLE (Singer, Musician): (Singing) L is for the way you look at me. O...

WERTHEIMER: But here is a side of Nat King Cole that might not sound quite so familiar.

(Soundbite of song, "L.O.V.E.")

Mr. COLE: (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: Nat King Cole toured in Latin America and recorded three albums in Spanish. Now some Spanish-speaking musicians have created a tribute album in Espanol.

(Soundbite of song, "L.O.V.E.")

Mr. ISSAC DELGADO (Singer): (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: That's Cuban singer Issac Delgado from the album "L.O.V.E.," the collection of Cole's Spanish hits performed by Delgado. The album also features a couple of duets with Nat King Cole's brother, Freddie Cole.

Issac Delgado joined us from member station WLRN in Miami. He is there, along with the album's producer, Nat Chediak, who's also translating for us. And Freddie Cole is at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta.

Thank you very much, all of you, for being here.

Mr. NAT CHEDIAK (Producer, "L.O.V.E."): Pleasure being here.

Mr. FREDDIE COLE (Singer): Pleasure being here.

Mr. DELGADO: Muchas gracias.

WERTHEIMER: Issac, let me start with you. You grew up in Cuba. How did you discover Nat King Cole?

Mr. DELGADO: Nat King Cole (Spanish spoken).

Mr. CHEDIAK: He says that Nat King Cole is a myth, an icon for his generation, and that he listened to him home. His father actually had a physical resemblance to Cole, and that his mother loved to play his music around the house. When Cole came to Cuba, he seduced everyone. He had the uncanny ability to make you feel that he was singing right to your ear, that he was singing especially for you.

(Soundbite of song, "Magic is the Moonlight")

Mr. N.K. COLE: (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: Let's turn to Freddie Cole. Freddie, do you know why your brother was so interested in Latin music and Latin America?

Mr. F. COLE: Well, his personal manager at the time was a Spanish person, Carlos Gastel. And, you know, they started to talk about this project and they put it together, and it became one of the bestsellers that Nat had in his whole career.

(Soundbite of song, "Magic is the Moonlight")

Mr. N.K. COLE: (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: Nat Chediak, you produced this tribute recording. How did the idea come about?

Mr. CHEDIAK: I was actually working with Issac on another project, and he said I want to do Cole Espanol.

WERTHEIMER: Did you know what he was talking about?

Mr. CHEDIAK: Instantly. You know, there's no self-respecting Latin who comes from the world of music who does not know Nat King Cole. I mean, it's just unheard of.

(Soundbite of song, "Perfidia")

WERTHEIMER: Let's just take a sampling here and try two versions of the Latin standard, "Perfidia." We'll hear first Nat King Cole, and then we'll here Issac Delgado.

(Soundbite of song, "Perfidia")

Mr. N.K. COLE: (Singing in Spanish)

Mr. DELGADO: (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: Issac, the differences are really interesting. I mean, you do - you have beautiful voice. You're obviously not imitating Nat King Cole. And there's a little bit of - I don't know. You seem to sort of ease into the rhythm of it in a different way.

Mr. DELGADO: (Through translator) We didn't want to make a carbon copy of what had already been done before. So we wanted to be respectful, but at the same time, do it in our own way.

WERTHEIMER: This album includes two duets with Issac and Freddy Cole. We're just going to listen for a second to "Green Eyes."

(Soundbite of song, "Green Eyes")

Mr. F. COLE: (Singing) But will they ever want me? Green Eyes, make my dreams come true.

Mr. DELGADO: (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: So there you have Freddy singing in English and Issac singing in Spanish.

Freddie, did you ever sing with your brother?

Mr. F. COLE: No. I played piano on some of his records. I was on the "My Fair Lady" CD.

(Soundbite of song, "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face")

Mr. N.K. COLE: (Singing) I've grown accustomed to her face.

Mr. CHEDIAK: One of our mindsets...

WERTHEIMER: That's Nat Chediak.

Mr. CHEDIAK: One of the mindsets in putting the repertory was we went beyond the three Latino albums and we reached out to standards, whole standards, that he never did in Spanish because we wanted to extend it to the entire Cole songbook.

(Soundbite of song, "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face")

Mr. DELGADO: (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: That's "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face" in Spanish, Issac Delgado singing it.

Issac, I have to say that if I didn't know that song, I would think it sounds perfect in Spanish.

Mr. DELGADO: (Spanish spoken)

Mr. CHEDIAK: He's very happy that people respond to it, because when they know the song in English, they don't have a reference for it in Spanish. And for them to accept it is very gratifying for him.

WERTHEIMER: Freddie, if I were to ask you to pick a song in particular that brings back memories of your brother, would it be that one?

Mr. F. COLE: Oh, I love this particular song. But I have so many memories of my brother, it would take all day, your whole time for the show...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. F. COLE: ...because he was such a great musician. And he had such an awareness of everything around him and he knew how to color here, and do this and do that. So it really would be unfair for me to just jump up and try to pick one thing.

(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: Freddie Cole, Issac Delgado and Nat Chediak, thank you all very much.

Mr. F. COLE: Thank you.

Mr. DELGADO: Muchas gracias.

WERTHEIMER: Their album is a tribute to Nat King Cole in Spanish. It's called "L.O.V.E."

Mr. DELGADO: (Singing in Spanish)

WERTHEIMER: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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