Constance van Niekerk, SA
The new year started with sad news for the music industry. Natalie Cole, singer of the Grammy-Award winning Unforgettable album died on Thursday night (New Year’s Eve). She was 65. The multi Grammy-Award winner died at Cedar-Sinai medical centre in Los Angeles from congestive heart failure after years of battling drug problems, liver disease, (she had a kidney transplant in 2009) and hepatitis C. Her death was confirmed by her publicist Maureen O’Connor.
U.S civil rights activists Rev Jesse Jackson tweeted, “#Natalie Cole, sister beloved & of substance and sound. May her soul rest in peace. #Inseparable.”
A statement released by the family simply read: “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,”
Natalie was born on the 6th of February 1950 in Los Angeles of musical parents. Her father, Nat “King” Cole, the great legendary jazz crooner who died in 1965 when Natalie was only 15, was one of the most accomplished Jazz musicians of America’s post war era. While her mother, Maria Hawkins Cole (formerly Ellington) was a Jazz singer for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which was led by American pianist and song composer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. Maria died in 2012 at 89.
At the tender age of 6, Natalie sang with her father on a Christmas album. She was performing on stage by the time she was 11.
This Will Be, one of the hits on her debut album Inseparable (1975) won her a Grammy for best female & RnB performance. She was also named best new artist at the Grammys and the album’s title track became a chart hit.
Two years later, Cole had two platinum albums and another two years on, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1991, she recorded Unforgettable… With Love, an album with songs made by her father which won 6 Grammys, they include album of the year and song for the year for the title track. The album spent five weeks at No. 1 on the pop charts and sold more than 14 million copies.
Another father-daughter duet, When I Fall in Love won a Grammy in 1996 for best pop collaboration and Still Unforgettable (2008) won for best traditional pop vocal album.
Cole recorded nineteen albums and fifteen singles.
During the height of her singer–songwriter, actress career, Natalie won nine Grammy Awards and was nominated for twelve; She won another eight Awards ranging from Best Jazz Artist; Favourite Female Artist – Soul / Rhythm & Blues to Lifetime Musical Achievement Award. She performed, acted and featured in over eleven films.
Fellow singer, Aretha Franklin said, “I am sorry to hear about Natalie Cole’s passing. I had to hold back the tears. I know how hard she fought. She fought for so long. She was one of the greatest singers of our time.”
Comedian, talk show host and actor Arsenio Hall said that he named his bass guitar after her when he was in college. “As a young stand-up comic I opened for Natalie Cole. She was all that, in all ways! (RIP).”
Natalie Cole once told People Magazine, “I am a walking testimony that you can have scars, you can go through turbulent times and still have victory in your life.”
She is survived by her only son Robert Adam Yancy.
Her unforgettable voice lives on through her music, Rest In Peace Natalie.