"Idol" gets Latino flavor with Puerto Rican Nunez

Thu Mar 5, 2009 7:05pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" is going to be hearing a lot more Spanish this season.

Puerto Rican college student Jorge Nunez, who divided the judges over his heavy accent, won congratulations from Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez after singing his way through to the coveted Top 12 of Fox's top-rated talent show.

Encouraged by the superstar music couple, Nunez said he hoped to sing a few verses in his native language in future rounds of the competition, saying "my voice sounds best when I am singing in Spanish."

Nunez told reporters in a conference call on Thursday that Anthony and J.Lo, both of whose parents were born in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, sent a text message to show host, Ryan Seacrest, after his performance this week.

"Please tell Jorge that Jen and I could not be prouder. We were in tears witnessing, honestly. Pure talent," said Anthony's text.

Nunez, 21, has received conflicting advice from the Idol judges, who first advised him to lose his thick Spanish accent if he wanted to advance in the show.

But British judge Simon Cowell told Nunez this week to keep the accent, noting that many a Spanish and Latino singer had achieved popular international success.

"I wanted to follow their advice and let them know I had listened to what they say. But I can actually feel more relieved now that Simon has said he wants me to keep my accent," he said.   Continued...

<p>Performer Jorge Nunez poses at the party for the 12 finalists of the television show "American Idol" in Los Angeles March 5, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>