Gloria Estefan Sings The Standards
Sony Masterworks released Gloria Estefan's The Standards on September 10, 2013. Celebrating great tunes from the American Songbook, The Standards reaches out to Estefan's global fan base via international song classics sung in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French, some with new lyrics written by Estefan herself. The album also features collaborations with world class, award-winning artists like singer songwriter Laura Pausini, violinist Joshua Bell, saxophonist Dave Koz, and pianist Shelly Berg.
The ambitious project has been "on my back burner for a long time," according to Estefan. "I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Henry Mancini and great romance recording artists in Mexico and Cuba," says Havana-born Estefan. "This genre is right up my alley, since music is always a catharsis to me."
Estefan waited until now to do a standards album to get "enough life under my belt," she says, "since there are so many torch songs requiring life experience to deliver them with proper credibility."
Throughout the recording process, Estefan went for "a sexy, romantic and intimate feel" she says. "I wanted to do an album without an extraneous note, with an economy of music so it would be just enough to express the emotion of the song."
Estefan also tried to approach these standards with fresh ideas. "On 'They Can't Take That Away From Me,' for instance, we did it in a completely different way from what anybody's done before, kind of a 6/8, almost Afro-Cuban feel meets the waltz," she says.
For Antonio Carlos Jobim's Brazilian classic "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar," Estefan composed English lyrics for the first-ever English version, "It's You I'll Always Love," and composed Spanish lyrics for "Eu Sei Que Voy Te Amar." She also recorded it in French ("Tu Sais Je Vais T'Aimer"), having studied that language in school. She also composed Spanish lyrics for Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," on which she duets with Laura Pausini in both Spanish & Italian.
"This song always made me cry," she says. "Charlie Chaplin spent his life making people smile and laugh and it's one of the songs that breaks your heart. Recording it was daunting because Michael Jackson did a phenomenal version and so did Natalie Cole. There are so many versions. I wanted to bring my own sensitivity to it because it's been so special to me, and Laura Pausini is amazing."
Argentinean idol Carlos Gardel's "El Dia Que Me Quieras," for which Estefan wrote the first-ever English translation ("The Day You Say You Love Me"), has a very special significance. "It was the wedding song that Emilio and I danced to!" she relates. "I wanted to record it. It was never done in English, and I wanted it to be as close to the author's version as possible and I was so inspired. Before we started doing the record, I wrote the translation. It's always nice when you can write a standard!"
Estefan's album is also the basis for a PBS program of the same name, airing nationwide.
"The Standards" on PBS: http://www.pbs.org/program/gloria-estefan/