Natalie Cole, the Grammy-winning entertainer whose hits include “This Will Be,” “Our Love,” and “Inseparable,” died on December 31 at a Los Angeles hospital. She was 65.
“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,” said a statement from her son Robert Yancy, and sisters, Timolin and Casey Cole, as reported by Associated Press.
Born in 1950, Cole grew up among incredible musical talent. Her father, Nat King Cole, was one of the most accomplished singers and musicians of the 20th century, and her mother, Maria Hawkins Cole, was a singer for Duke Ellington.
When she was six, Cole sang with her father on a Christmas album, and by the age of 11, she was performing on her own. Nat King Cole died of lung cancer when she was 15.
Cole started her musical career after graduating from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1972. Many clubs, who initially welcomed her due to her father’s legacy, were disappointed in her shows because she performed R&B and rock music. Capitol Records, her father’s label, agreed to sign her, and the agency soon released her first major album, “Inseparable.”
In 1975, “This Will Be” became her first massive hit and garnered comparisons to Aretha Franklin. The song won her a Grammy for Best New Artist and Best R&B Female Vocal Performance for “This Will Be.” In 1979, Cole was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“Unforgettable… with Love,” the album in which she sang some of her father’s most renowned songs, was released in 1991. This was Cole’s best-selling work and sold more than 7 million copies in the United states. The album won several Grammy awards, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
In 2000, Natalie Cole released an autobiography called Angel on My Shoulder, in which she discussed her past battle with drugs, in particular heroin and crack cocaine. It was released in conjunction with a made-for-TV movie, “Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story.”
Cole suffered a variety of health issues. “I’m an ex-drug addict and I don’t take that kind of stuff lightly,” Cole explained at the 2009 Grammy Awards, as reported by AP. In 2008, she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, reportedly due to her past intravenous drug use. The disease “stayed in my body for 25 years and it could still happen to this young woman or other addicts who are fooling around with drugs, especially needles.”
In December 2015, Cole canceled a series of public appearances because of ongoing health concerns. On December 31, 2015, she died of congestive heart failure, according to her publicist.