Singer Natalie Cole has won nine Grammy awards and produced countless classic tunes in her four-decade career. Her newest recording, Natalie Cole en Español is her first Spanish-language record – but her dad, Nat “King” Cole released three of his own in the 50s and 60s. Natalie tells us the touching story of how her body has shaped her body of work.
Back in 1958 my dad made his first Spanish record and it presented the opportunity for the family to go to Mexico. That was my first trip outside of the U.S. and it made a very big impression on me. I saw my first pinata and I had my first dish of Mexican food. I loved it.
Years later, I mean like a lot of years later, I’m here doing this Spanish record. The idea actually started probably about ten years ago with me and my sister who was the running our dad’s estate. Her name was Carol. She has since passed away.
Her passing away also coincided with me getting my kidney transplant. I met this woman named Ester while I was in the midst of going through dialysis with my kidney and once I had spent a day in the hospital with Ester as my nurse she then watched me on The Larry King Show several weeks later. In watching it she said “I wish that I could help this lady.” I ended up getting the help from her, because her niece actually passed away.
This beautiful young girl, Jessica, was an organ donor. Ester went to the family and said “I know someone who needs this kidney.” Normally, you don’t get a chance to meet your donor family. Often they don’t want to, or even the recipient doesn’t feel comfortable. But they wanted to meet me, and I thought that was really nice.
They’re lovely, lovely people; sweet as they could be. I dedicated some of the record to them, and I talk about them in my credits and just thank them again.
My donor family is from El Salvador. I find it not coincidental at all, but that it must have been meant to be. It seemed that in the past four years all off a sudden I’ve had this burning desire to do this Latin record.
They called me crazy the other night, that I’m loco Latino now because I have this Latin kidney but I don’t mind.
I have to tell you, something really interesting happened. When I was in Istanbul earlier this year we had just finished the record and I was in a cab and the radio was on. My father came on singing his Spanish record at 7:00 in the morning. I just thought that was the most extraordinary thing that could ever happen because I’m in Istanbul. It was just so odd. I just felt like he was kind of sending his blessing.