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Transcript

Issac Delgado & Nat King Cole

Spanish-English interpretation by Erik Camayd-Freixas

NPR's Latino USA
August 27, 2010


[Music]
Issac Delgado, “La Fiesta” (Sergio George-Jorge Luis Piloto)
Machete Music B0012046-02, Asi Soy

[Host Katie Davis]
Take a percussive beat and an unwavering voice. And you have the music of Issac Delgado – a blend of old and new.

[Music]
Issac Delgado, “La Fiesta” (Sergio George-Jorge Luis Piloto)
Machete Music B0012046-02, Asi Soy

[Host Katie Davis]
Salsa has been Issac Delgado’s passion for years – as he grew up in Cuba, and as he played throughout the world, and still now as he remakes a career in the U.S.. His last two albums received multiple Grammy nominations and now Issac Delgado says he wants to expand his audience. And sometimes to go forward, you go back. So, Issac Delgado returned to some musical memories of his boyhood in Cuba. We have the story now from Fred Wasser.

[Reporter Fred Wasser]
In 2006 Issac Delgado, his wife and two small daughters left Cuba for the United States. Back home, there was only the occasional car passing by their house. They now live in this busy neighborhood of high-rises along Miami Beach. In many ways life has changed dramatically since the move.

[Issac Delgado]
But we do have the same heat. The climate is similar. The vegetation. I can see palm trees. The colors are very similar to those in Cuba. On a personal level, I have a lot of nostalgia for my family. I have a son in Cuba.

[Reporter]
And Issac Delgado’s mother died right before he left. His mother was the well-known Cuban singer and dancer Lina Ramírez a regular at Havana’s famed Tropicana nightclub. As Delgado remembers it, the seeds of his new project were planted by his mother. She brought home some record albums. Nat King Cole singing in Spanish. Nat King Cole actually recorded three Spanish language albums in the late 1950s and early 60s in Havana, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City. Delgado says his new album – what he calls his “Nat King Cole in Spanish Project” – started when he was a boy listening to the family record player.

[Music]
Nat King Cole, “Perfidia” (Music: Alberto Dominguez; Words: Milton Leeds)
Collectors’ Choice Music CCM-873, A Mis Amigos

[Issac Delgado]
At home, we listened to the music of Nat King Cole all the time. My mother, my father loved his music. And Nat King Cole comes into my home by way of the aura that had been created after his visit to Cuba and having performed at the Tropicana.

[Music]
Nat King Cole, “Perfidia” (Music: Alberto Dominguez; Words: Milton Leeds)
Collectors’ Choice Music CCM-873, A Mis Amigos.

[Reporter]
Wanting to record Nat King Cole’s songs was one thing. Making it happen, another.

[Issac Delgado]
It’s not easy to find a record label interested in recording, in Spanish, Nat King Cole’s music from Issac Delgado when everybody’s used to listening to me making tropical music, dancing music.

[Reporter]
Issac Delgado found an ally in Cuban-born producer and Latin music historian Nat Chediak at Calle54 Records. And the “Nat King Cole in Spanish Project” was born.

[Music]
Issac Delgado, “Perfidia” (Music: Alberto Dominguez; Words: Milton Leeds)
Calle 54 Records/Masterworks 88697671442, L-O-V-E

[Reporter]
Singing Nat King Cole’s songs posed an interesting quandary. You see, Nat King Cole did not know Spanish. Cole learned the songs phonetically. And he had an American accent. The quality of his singing voice, and his charm, though, made it all okay.

[Issac Delgado]
Sometimes singers when they repeat and re-record his songs they use that accent that Nat King Cole used because he learned the songs by memory without really knowing Spanish with any depth.

[Reporter]
Some Spanish language singers love these works of Nat King Cole so much that when they sing his songs they mimick even his American accent. But Delgado decided not to take that approach.

[Issac Delgado]
I didn’t want to lose track of my own way of singing the songs and handling my language.

[Music – Issac Delgado, vocal]
Issac Delgado & Freddy Cole, “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás/Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” (Music: Osvaldo Farrés; Words: Joe Davis)
Calle 54 Records/Masterworks 88697671442, L-O-V-E

[Reporter]
Nat King Cole’s younger brother, Freddy Cole, a great singer-of-standards in his own right, agreed to sing two duets with Delgado.

[Music – Freddy Cole, vocal]
Issac Delgado & Freddy Cole, “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás/Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” (Music: Osvaldo Farrés; Words: Joe Davis)
Calle 54 Records/Masterworks 88697671442, L-O-V-E

[Reporter]
For Issac Delgado. Nat King Cole’s voice is ever present. Perhaps, he says, this is a daring project. It’s hard to know whether or not it’ll be good for his career in America.  But he did it because he identifies with Nat King Cole.

[Issac Delgado]
What I believe now is that he paid homage to the music and to the people of Latin America through our language by recording these three records in Spanish. It led us to love him because we could see that he was somebody who wanted to identify with the Latin community.

[Reporter]
Issac Delgado’s new Nat King Cole tribute album is called, L-O-V-E.  For Latino U-S-A, I’m Fred Wasser.

[Music]
Issac Delgado, “L-O-V-E” (Bert Kaempfert-Milt Gabler)
Calle 54 Records/Masterworks 88697671442, L-O-V-E

[Host Katie Davis]
And for this week that’s Latino USA. We had help from Erik Camayd, our translator for Issac Delgado; WUNC in Durham; and KUNR in Reno. The program is produced by The Futuro Media Group, online at  FuturoMediaGroup.org – in association with KUT, Austin. I’m Katie Davis in Washington. Maria Hinojosa will be back next week. And you can join her, again, for the next edition of NPR’s Latino USA.

 

 

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