Our hearts shattered upon hearing the news that Natalie Cole, the Grammy award-winning daughter of legendary jazz singer Nat King Cole, passed away on Thursday night at a hospital in Los Angeles. She was 65 years old.
Her publicist confirmed the news of her death to the Associated Press news agency.
In a statement, her son Robert Yancy and sisters Timolin and Casey Cole said:
Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived… with dignity, strength and honour. Our beloved mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain unforgettable in our hearts forever.
US civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson was among the first to send his conlendences on Twitter. He wrote:
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) January 1, 2016
Natalie Cole is the daughter of jazz great Nat King Cole and former Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria Hawkins Ellington. She was born in Los Angeles on 6th February 1950.
Natalie recorded and released her first song with her father for a duet called “I’m Good Will, You’re Christmas Spirit” at the age of 6. She then accompanied her father for concerts and TV appearances, but their musical collaboration fell short after Nat King Cole died from lung cancer in 1965. She struggled to cope with her father’s death and began having a difficult relationship with her mother.
However, she found solace in music and released her debut album, “Inseparable”, in 1975. One of the tracks in the album, “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”, became a top 10 hit and earned her the Grammy Award for “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance”. The track of the same name also became a chart-topping single and she won “Best New Artiste” at the Grammy Awards for her accomplishments.
Her follow-up albums, which include 1976’s “Natalie” and 1977’s “Unpredictable”, propelled her to international fame as it contained a number of hit singles such as “Sophisticated Lady” and “I’ve Got Love On My Mind”. She also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
However, her career derailed in the 1980s after her drug issues came to prominence. She battled with addiction and had a 6-month stay in rehab before making a comeback with 1987’s “Everlasting”, which included her critically acclaimed cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac”.
In 1991, she paid tribute to her father by releasing “Unforgettable… with Love”, an album which saw her singing renowned songs originally recorded by her father.
At the time, she told the Associated Press that she had to “throw out every R&B lick that I had ever learned and every pop trick I had ever learned”. She said:
I didn’t shed really any real tears until the album was over. Then I cried a whole lot. When we started the project, it was a way of reconnecting with my dad. Then when we did the last song, I had to say goodbye again.
The album proved to be her most successful release as it sold over 7 million copies and earned her 7 Grammy Awards, including “Album of the Year”.
In conjunction with Genting’s 50th anniversary celebrations, she performed in Malaysia last year alongside David Foster, Peter Cetera, Boyz II Men, Ruben Studdard, and Jackie Evancho at David’s “HITMAN David Foster & Friends Asia Tour 2015″. However, due to her deteriorating health, she also cancelled a series of performances, including one on New Year’s Eve.
Upon hearing the news about Natalie’s death, celebrities, fans and directors alike took to social media to express their shock and send their condolences:
Taking a moment in the new year: RIP Ms. Natalie Cole
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) January 1, 2016
So sad to hear about Natalie Cole. #Unforgettable
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) January 1, 2016
Today, we are listening and singing along to "This Will Be" to honor the incomparable Natalie Cole.
— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) January 1, 2016
Losing Natalie Cole is a sad start to a new year.
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) January 1, 2016
You will always be unforgettable, Natalie Cole. May your soul rest in peace.