New Selena album 'Moonchild Mixes' sparks voice-aging debate Some fans of the late singer have taken to social media to denounce the use of digital technology to make her sound older.

New Selena album 'Moonchild Mixes' sparks voice-aging debate

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To music now, Selena became an international superstar in the 1980s and '90s for her warm stage presence and emotional singing style. She died in 1995, when she was only 23. And now a new album of remixes - it's out today, and it uses digital technology to age her voice. NPR's Chloe Veltman reports some Selena fans are not happy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAME TU AMOR")

SELENA: (Singing in Spanish).

CHLOE VELTMAN, BYLINE: Selena was a teenager when she first recorded this song, "Dame Tu Amor," in 1986.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAME TU AMOR")

SELENA: (Singing in Spanish).

VELTMAN: On the new album, "Moonchild Mixes," the singer sounds like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAME TU AMOR")

SELENA: (Singing in Spanish).

VELTMAN: Her voice is pitched down a semitone. It's also fuller, especially at the low end.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAME TU AMOR")

SELENA: (Singing in Spanish).

VELTMAN: Selena's family worked with Warner Music Latina on the new release. Here's her father, Abraham Quintanilla.

ABRAHAM QUINTANILLA: And we worked on her vocal tracks to make her sound more mature and make you think that she recorded the songs this morning.

VELTMAN: But some people aren't on board with the Quintanilla family's approach, like Brandon Hunter, a diehard Selena fan who lives in Tampa, Fla.

BRANDON HUNTER: I have "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" as the ringtone on my phone.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIDI BIDI BOM BOM")

SELENA: (Singing) Bidi bidi bom bom - bidi bidi bom bom - bidi - bidi - bom...

VELTMAN: Hunter says he would have preferred the new album to include rare releases from Selena's back catalog, not heavily produced remixes of hits.

HUNTER: Her voice is timeless, you know? Don't touch it (laughter).

RUPAL PATEL: I think people are uncomfortable that there's technologies that can do these things.

VELTMAN: That's speech scientist Rupal Patel. She says the use of digital audio processing technologies is now ubiquitous in pop music production. And she notes the producers of "Moonchild Mixes" haven't created a whole new synthetic voice or voice clone for Selena. They've just tweaked her original tracks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COMO TE QUIERO YO A TI")

SELENA: (Singing in Spanish).

VELTMAN: But Patel says the singing voice carries so much emotional weight, it can make people acutely sensitive, even to tiny changes in the voice of the singers they love.

PATEL: Whereas for speech, we're listening for the information content. For music, we're listening for the pleasure - how it moves us.

VELTMAN: Also, Patel says, there's the fact Selena isn't around today to give consent to her new, mature-sounding voice.

PATEL: Was she someone who would never want to be heard in a way that sounds older than she is or unauthentically heard than what she was?

VELTMAN: The Quintanilla family did not respond to NPR's questions about the ethics of manipulating Selena's voice, neither did they address the fans criticisms. Instead, Selena's sister, Suzette Quintanilla, offered this defense of the new album.

SUZETTE QUINTANILLA: This is just breathing life into older music for the new generation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SALTA LA RANITA")

SELENA: (Singing in Spanish).

VELTMAN: Many Selena fans, old and new, are all for it, including 18-year-old University of Chicago student Vivian Benishek.

VIVIAN BENISHEK: We have the original recordings, right? For example, one of them is "Salta La Ranita." It's a really funny song about a frog that she did when she was so young. And now I'm looking forward to hearing it, fast-forward years later, with a different sound.

VELTMAN: Benishek bought the album as soon as it dropped and says she's planning a listening party with her friends this weekend. I'm Chloe Veltman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SALTA LA RANITA")

SELENA: (Singing in Spanish).

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