Jon Secada is welcoming you to the ‘hood…
The 58-year-old Grammy-winning Cuban American singer croons the Spanish version of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood on a new album paying tribute to the late children’s television icon.
Secada’s song, “Podemos Ser Amigos?,” puts the cha cha cha in the mild-mannered Rogers classic, heating up a song that is still stuck in the heads of the generations of Americans who watched the show as children, including Secada himself.
Secada arrived in the United States at age 13, after leaving Cuba with his family and landing in Spain and then Costa Rica. Secada remembers that he was already past the target age for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but recalls seeing the show at home in Miami at the time he was learning English.
“The simplicity of it was something I could pick up on,” he tells Billboard. “I could relate to the story line and what was going on. The whole thing about Mr. Rodgers was that his message was so clear and transparent.”
Secada, who calls the tribute “a labor of love,” also recorded “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” in English, a track that was included on the 2005 Rogers homage Songs From the Neighborhood. The Spanish version of the song, written by the Reverend Reinaldo Toledo — the father of a college classmate of Secada’s — did not make it onto that previous recording. Both of the tribute albums were produced by Dennis Scott, who also arranged the songs, written by Fred Rogers and sung by him on the show.
Thank You Mr. Rogers – Music & Memories is set for release on Friday, October 25.
The album also includes The Cowsills version of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” Monkees member Micky Dolenz singing “Perfectly Beautiful Day” and Rita Wilson performing “Some People Are Good.”
Wilson’s husband, Tom Hanks, stars in the upcoming feature film about Mr. Rogers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Morgan Neville’s 2018 documentary about the much-loved children’s television pioneer, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, brought critics to tears and was the top-grossing bio-doc of all time.