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7 Foreign Language Artists That Made a Big Splash in Their Native Language

It’s very common for artists to record music in English to maximize their appeal to English-speaking fans. However, many of these artists have chosen to record songs in their native tongue as well. 

Some of these musicians speak English as a second language, so this means a return to their first language. Others do so to pay homage to their heritage. In any case, many singers are quite successful when they do so. Here are seven of the most notable.

1. Andrea Bocelli

Bocelli is a world-renowned tenor whose native language is Italian. As an opera singer, he is accustomed to performing in multiple languages, including French, Latin, English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Of course, he manages to stun and impress audiences in every tongue.

That said, when he has the opportunity to perform in his native Italian, something special truly happens. Maybe it’s his voice, the mastery of his mother tongue, or that many operas are written in Italian.

One example is the song “Con Te Partiro” which was written for Bocelli and recorded in 1995. Later, he released an Italian/English version of the song with American soprano Sarah Brightman singing in English. This was translated to “Time to Say Goodbye”.

2. Gloria Estefan

Cuban singer Gloria Estefan first became famous in the 1980s as the lead singer of the group Miami Sound Machine. The band mixed traditional Cuban beats with current pop influences. They sang songs in both English and Spanish to appeal to a wide range of fans.

As a solo artist, she also sings many songs in both English and Spanish. However, there have been a few times when she has dedicated entire albums to Spanish language songs. One of these was Abriendo Puertas, released in 1995.

Interestingly enough, Gloria’s language knowledge almost led her into another career. She worked as a translator at the Miami airport. It’s safe to say that she was sought after by many translation agencies even the CIA recruited her.

3. ABBA

Swedish supergroup ABBA had many hits in English. That’s how most of their American fans got to know the band. However, they also recorded songs in French and German. This was to create an even wider appeal.

If you are wondering, the answer is yes. ABBA has recorded songs in their native Swedish. After all, it only makes sense to work for their hometown crowd as well.

4. Regina Spector

Regina Spektor was born in Moscow and trained as a classical pianist. Later, she became a sensation as a unique vocal stylist. Most of her fanbase in English-speaking countries are familiar with her work sung in English. However, she has also done songs in Russian and French.

Spektor takes a unique approach to language. She views it as a way to make sounds to trigger emotions. Sometimes, she even makes up her own words and sounds.

5. Wyclef Jean

Wyclef is a world-famous rapper, musician, and music producer. He first gained mainstream popularity as a member of the Fugees. He’s done music in many languages and experimented with various styles. 

One thing is clear. Wyclef is extremely proud of his Haitian roots. He is very active in politics in his home country and trying to improve life for the people there. 

The official languages of Haiti are Haitian Creole and French. Jean has woven both languages into his music. He’s also included Spanish, German, and Japanese in live performances. His fluency shouldn’t be surprising. Listening to music is a great way to learn a foreign language.

6. Shakira

Shakira is a Colombian native who grew up speaking Spanish. She even recorded her first few records entirely in Spanish for Sony Colombia. It wasn’t until later that she began singing in English. Now, she records a significant number of songs in both languages.

7. Celine Dion

Celine Dion has a graceful accent that reveals her French Canadian heritage. When she was younger, she sang and spoke only in French. Later, she expressed herself in multiple languages. Still, French has a special place in her heart.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see why so many singers choose to record English-speaking albums. Some even focus on singing in English as their main source of income. However, it’s also great to see them pay respect to their native culture.


Author Bio: Merissa Moore is a talented writer with an interest in language, travel, and culture. She is widely published on a variety of websites and online publications. If she has extra time, Merissa loves watching movies and doing puzzles.

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