Natalie Cole on Singing Duets with Late Father

By ROBERT PACE

June 25, 2013

Although her father, Nat King Cole, passed away when she was just a teenager, Natalie Cole has still been able to perform duets with her father via recordings. Soon to release another duet with her father on her latest album, Cole describes the "bittersweet" experience.

Preserving her father's status as a legendary jazz vocalist and pianist, Cole has recorded duets with her father multiple times, most notably for "Unforgettable" on her 1991 album Unforgettable...with Love and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" in 2008 for Still Unforgettable.

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After decades of recording R&B albums, Cole made the bold choice to change pace and record an album in Spanish, which also includes a duet with her father on "Acércate más" ("Come Closer").

"I think it's always a little bit bittersweet when I do it," Cole said of recording duets with her late father, who passed at age 45 from lung cancer, "but I do love to do it because I feel so connected to him. ... It's still emotional, but it still feels good, so you always still want to hold on to that feeling."

Accustomed to singing classics and her own soul/R&B tracks, Cole says her decision to release an album in Spanish isn't completely out of left field.

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The 63-year-old singer says it's been a work-in-progress for quite some time and has always been "lurking" around her, gradually seeping into the forefront of her mind through influential events like a trip to Mexico as a child, dressing up as a Latin girl at a costume party, and enrolling in a Spanish course in high school.

Moreover, her father released three Spanish-language albums in his career, the first of which, Cole Español, he recorded in Havana, Cuba in 1958.

"My father was a pioneer in so many ways. He was fearless, and I think that I kind of picked that up from him as well," Cole said. "I knew it would be a challenge, but I just felt like Dad would be very supportive of me.

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"He would be totally behind me to do this kind of a record because his love was to reach the masses. His love was to sing from his heart to all kinds of people. He didn't care where it was, who it was, and that's my gift as well. That's what I love doing."

Cole's debut Spanish album Natalie Cole en Español, which also contains duets with Italian singing sensation Andrea Bocelli and Dominican artist Juan Luis Guerra, is in stores today.

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