1991 was year zero for people singing with the deceased. Before the living Beatles could reunite with the departed John Lennon in "Free as a Bird" or a Tupac hologram could collaborate with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at Coachella, Natalie Cole released "Unforgettable." The duet with her famous father Nat King Cole, who passed away 26 years earlier, used new technology to make it sound as though their voices were recorded in the same room. The novelty and nostalgia made the song a Top Ten hit and swept the 1992 Grammys as Record of the Year.
It also didn't hurt that there was a great backstory of redemption in Natalie Cole's life. She made it big in the 1970s with disco-tinged R&B cuts like "Sophisticated Lady" and "I've Got Love on My Mind." But she wasn't ready for her massive success and fell to the temptations of drug addiction, which killed her career. Until "Unforgettable." After years of running from her father's legendary singing legacy and refusing to sing any of his trademark songs, Cole cut an entire album from her father's hits. Unforgettable... With Love sold 7 million copies, and she never flirted with obscurity again.
Cole's latest album, Natalie Cole en Español, is, as the title implies, her first album in Spanish, which improbably was also influenced by her father, as she told the Milford Daily News in a recent interview. "My dad turned me on to this music many years ago," she said. "He recorded his first album in Spanish, Cole Español, in 1958, and it became very big internationally. My dad took me on my first trip to Mexico. I can still remember seeing my first piñata and posing for pictures in the folk costume of a señorita. I also got to see firsthand how Latin American fans adored my father. They loved, loved, loved him, and I loved what he loved. So I fell in love with the culture."
She will have plenty of opportunities to embrace Hispanic culture along with her father's and her own legacy at her South Florida performance November 5 at Hard Rock Live. David Rolland
8 p.m. Wednesday, November 5, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $59 to $79 plus fees. Call 954-797-5531, or visit hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com.