Natalie Cole (65), the talented singer and daughter of Nat King Cole, died at Cedars Sinai Hospital on Thursday. According to a statement from her son Robert Yancy and her sisters Timolin and Casey Cole, “Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived … with dignity, strength and honor. Our beloved Mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever”.
Born Feb. 6, 1950, in Los Angeles, Cole was gifted with music in her genes and in her blood. Her father was the legendary singer Nat King Cole, and her mother, Maria Cole, sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Her father passed away while she was in her teens, but Natalie never gave up her pursuit of music and sang in clubs on weekends while she was in college studying psychology. Despite her billing as “Nat King Cole’s daughter”, Natalie was able to find her own voice and went on to have a successful career as a singer.
Natalie recorded several platinum albums in the ‘70’s (Inseparable, Unpredictable and Thankful) and won her first Grammy (she has a total of nine) for Best New Artist in 1975. Her career was on fire, but Natalie was battling an addiction to drugs. In her autobiography, “Angel on My Shoulder” (2000), she wrote that her addiction was so incapacitating that she barely escaped a hotel fire in Las Vegas in 1981.
After spending time in the Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota, Natalie returned to the music scene with a come-back album, Dangerous, in 1985. She would then go on to record the landmark record, Unforgettable….With Love, which featured the technologically brilliant track Unforgettable which blended her voice with her father’s original recording of the song. This album would become her benchmark work.
Diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2008, Natalie continued to tour in support of her career despite requiring dialysis three times a week to support her kidneys which were damaged by the drugs used to treat her hepatitis. She did receive a kidney transplant in 2009, however, in recent months the singer was forced to cancel many appearances citing unnamed medical procedures.
Natalie Cole will be missed not only by her family, but by the millions of people who have listened to her music throughout her career. There is no doubt that Natalie was able to make her own mark on the music industry and I’m sure her parents would have been beyond proud of her achievements.