Sure enough, just as I predicted, after I sent in the final mix of the record, I got a call from the label, and they were very upset about our including an old standard. I explained the situation and what had occurred. Christina also pushed back and—long story short—fortunately for us all, RCA relented. The track made it on the final version of the album.
I can’t possibly tell the story of this project without including how the duet on the record came about. My friend Eddie Fernandez at Universal Records had signed a young male artist to a development deal. (A development deal is when an artist signs with a label, the intent being to work toward a record contract. Some end in success, while many just fade away, with nothing ever materializing.) This young Puerto Rican singer was unique, because while he sang in Spanish, his style was distinctly R&B (rhythm and blues). As soon as I heard him sing, I was all in on this kid. He was phenomenal. I offered to work with him in any capacity. Timing-wise, this connection began after Christina’s project had already started.
I had written a song called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido” (“If I Hadn’t Met You”). I planned for the song to be a duet. I had laid down the male vocal just as a guide for Christina as she worked on her part, knowing that when we landed on the right male artist, my track would be replaced.
Wanting the song to be on the record and agreeing that a duet was a great idea for this project, the label started looking at male Latino superstars to sing the part. Because so many of the major Latin recording artists lived in Miami, the label sent several to my house to meet Christina and sing with her. Because of her incredible success, anybody who was anybody wanted to be on the record. (Because they weren’t chosen, I will avoid giving their names.)
After everyone on the list had come and gone, I asked Christina, “Do you want to sing with someone famous or someone who can hold his own with you? You have such a unique style, with your vocal riffs and inflections. These guys are all great singers and great guys whom I love, but are you going to have to adapt to them, dial back your own vocal to not outsing them, and match their performance?” She responded that she wanted to be true to who she was and sing at her very best. I said, “Well, the best singer for this song is a kid you don’t know yet.” Christina asked, “Who is he?” I replied, “His name is Luis Fonsi.” She said, “Well then, can I hear him?”
While Luis’s debut album had come out in 1998 and he’d had success in Latino markets, he was not yet known to the American record-buying audience or to radio. I played her one of Luis’s singles, a song I had written titled “Imagíname Sin Ti” (“Imagine Me Without You”).
When the song ended, Christina said, “Wow! He’s great. I want to meet him.” As any good, efficient producer should, I had Luis sitting in his car outside the house. I called him in, and they quickly hit it off. We went in the studio and recorded their vocals. And of course, with Christina and Luis being the amazing talents they are, the takes were stellar and the chemistry was incredible.
Taken from The Latin Hitmaker by Rudy Pérez. Copyright © 2019 by Rudy Pérez. Used by permission of Zondervan.