Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole (AP)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- It's been four years since Natalie Cole received a kidney from a Salvadorian donor, and the singer says it not only connected her to Hispanic culture, it has given her the strength to record her first post-operation album -- totally in Spanish.

"I don't believe in coincidences. I believe everything happens for a reason. That this was a Latin family, I feel like I'm part Latino now. That (made) the desire to make this record became even stronger," Cole said recently during a private listening session of "Natalie Cole En Espanol," released this week.

This is Cole's first album since she received her kidney in May 2009. Her donor was a young woman from El Salvador who died while giving birth to a baby boy, Lucas, said Cole (the Grammy-winner received the donation after suffering from hepatitis C, a liver disease spread through contact with infected blood).

"I couldn't totally grasp, understand it, but there's something there, the spirit of this young girl, the spirit of this family, the spirit of the Latin culture, of a Latin heart is inside me," the 63-year-old said.

Produced by Cuban-American Rudy Perez, the 12-track album is a compilation of Latin American classics, plus a Spanish-language version of the Beatles' "And I Love Her."