“Whenever I want to be transported to a beautiful, simpler time, where I feel like every possibility is out there for me, I put on Nat King Cole,” Gloria Estefan said.
Born and raised in Cuba, Estefan grew up surrounded by the everlasting elegance of Nat King Cole’s music (thanks to the records he made in Spanish)… and now, she’s gotten the opportunity to perform a duet with him, thanks to a new project spearheaded by co-producers, Jay Landers and Jorge Calandrelli. Titled A Sentimental Christmas with Nat “King” Cole and Friends: Cole Classics Reimagined, the record (which dropped on Dec. 15) features Cole’s original vocal takes placed in modern arrangements alongside stars like John Legend, Kristin Chenoweth, Johnny Mathis, and more.
Estefan’s particular tune is one she’s loved since childhood: “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.”
“This song, ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square,’ has a little bit of a story to it—it is not a Christmas song, but in the back of my mind, it always reminded me of a Christmas song,” Landers explained. “I went back and listened to the original and it’s set up with a little flute where they do a little quotation of ‘Jingle Bells.’ That made me think of these two people in love in Berkeley Square—which is a beautiful square in London—on a cold crispy night. It just seemed like it would be a great addition for a Christmas record.”
So, reaching out to mixer Dave Reitzas, the team began to ponder who would be best to duet on the tune with Cole… and Estefan’s name instantly came to mind. “It comes to a bit of Nat’s history—he was the very first American recording artist to record albums in a foreign language (in his case, Spanish),” Landers said. “Those albums, then, became global successes. When he performed in Cuba, he caused a sensation that would be associated with Elvis, The Beatles, and young Frank Sinatra—it was Nat King Cole mania. Gloria Estefan grew up in Cuba, so she knew of Nat King Cole’s fame, not only through his incredible success as an English-speaking recording artist but also through his success as a Latin recording artist. Gloria seemed like the perfect casting to sing with Nat.”
For her part, the excitement at the notion was mutual. “When I opened that email inviting me to sing a duet with Nat King Cole… it was one of the moments in my life that I said ‘Absolutely!’”
With an uber-smooth, velvety atmosphere and a timeless message of love and appreciation, the duet soars as a phenomenal little wonder of technology, culture, and, most of all, amazing music.
“I was imagining that we were in some little club, Nat King Cole and I, and he was at the piano and I was with him,” Estefan explained. “I was really looking at him in my mind…and trying to create something that we were doing together. And it’s easy for me because I imagined that a million times as a kid. He was the first artist I listened to. As a kid, my mom had all his records and I would pore over them. My mother would be beside herself and she’d be so proud because she thought from the beginning that that’s where I deserved to be: singing with Nat King Cole.”
Check out even more behind-the-scenes content and listen to the full A Sentimental Christmas with Nat “King” Cole and Friends below: