LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Still going strong after 50 years in the business, the Spanish singer Raphael is showcasing his operatic chops on a world tour in support of his duets album "50 Anos Despues."
The album, which Sony Latin released March 31 in the United States, peaked at No. 13 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart and has sold 10,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It's an even bigger hit in Mexico, where it has gone gold for sales exceeding 40,000 copies, according to the labels organization Amprofon.
"50 Anos Despues" includes duets with top Latin music artists, many of whom Raphael had never recorded with, such as Juanes and Vicente Fernandez. Raphael spoke with Billboard after a run of concerts in Argentina.
Billboard: Many duets are recorded separately and then put together in postproduction, but you recorded yours in person.
Raphael: All except the one with Rocio Durcal, naturally, since she's no longer in this world. (Durcal died in 2006.) All were recorded with me in Madrid except for Vicente Fernandez. I flew to Mexico to record with him because he was on tour at that time and couldn't come ... It's much better that way when you can see each other's faces. Everything comes out more natural. With Rocio, we were very good friends and we had sung together many times, so it was very easy, as if she was there.
Billboard: Do you get a different audience reaction depending on what country you visit?
Raphael: Not especially. The public, whatever their nationality is, reacts similarly to certain songs and moments in the concert. What I have noticed is a lot of young people ... I attribute this to the fact that they've heard a lot about me from their parents. So young people are curious to attend the concerts, to see me and hear me. They know my songs from memory -- they sing along with me.
Billboard: How do you take care of your voice?
Raphael: It's not that I take care of it a lot; I just don't neglect it. I drink a lot of water. I'm very used to doing concerts, so my throat is used to putting up with a lot ... The less you talk the day you have to sing, the better. The five or six hours before, if you don't talk, your voice is perfect.
Billboard: What advice would you give to an artist who would like to have a 50-year career?
Raphael: Don't try to be like anyone else. Try to defend your own stamp and your own personality. Don't let anyone convince you to sing like another. It's the only way to get ahead in this profession.
(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)