born on 6/2/1950 in Los Angeles, CA, United States
died on 31/12/2015 in Los Angeles, CA, United States
Natalie Maria Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015) was an American singer, voice actress, songwriter, and actress. The daughter of Nat King Cole, she rose to musical success in the mid-1970s as an R&B artist with the hits "This Will Be", "Inseparable" (1975), and "Our Love" (1977). After a period of failing sales and performances due to a heavy drug addiction, Cole re-emerged as a pop artist with the 1987 album Everlasting and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac". In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole seven Grammy Awards. She sold over 30 million records worldwide. She is best known for the role of herself in Yakety Yak, Take it Back, and Trash Talk, and the singing voice of Sawyer Cat in the Cats Don't Dance franchise. On December 31, 2015, Cole died at the age of 65 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, due to congestive heart failure.
Natalie Cole was born at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, the daughter of crooner Nat King Cole and former Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria Hawkins Ellington, and raised in the affluent Hancock Park district of Los Angeles. Regarding her childhood, Cole referred to her family as "the black Kennedys" and was exposed to many great singers of jazz, soul and blues. At the age of 6, Natalie sang on her father's Christmas album and later began performing at age 11.
Cole grew up with an older adopted sister, Carole "Cookie" (1944–2009) (her mother Maria's younger sister's daughter), adopted brother Nat "Kelly" Cole (1959–95), and younger twin sisters Timolin and Casey (born 1961).
Her paternal uncle Freddy Cole is a singer and pianist with numerous albums and awards. Cole enrolled in Northfield School for Girls, an elite New England preparatory school (since 1971 known as Northfield Mount Hermon School) before her father died of lung cancer in February 1965. Soon afterwards she began having a difficult relationship with her mother. She enrolled in the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She transferred briefly to University of Southern California where she pledged the Upsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She later transferred back to the University of Massachusetts, where she majored in Child Psychology and minored in German, graduating in 1972.
Cole grew up listening to a variety of artists from soul artists such as Aretha Franklin to psychedelic blues-rock icon Janis Joplin. After graduation she began singing at small clubs with her band, Black Magic. Clubs initially welcomed her because she was Nat King Cole's daughter, only to be disappointed when she began covering R&B and rock numbers. While performing, she was noted by a couple of producers in the Chicago area, Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, who then approached her to do records. After cutting several records together, they passed off the music to several record labels. Most labels turned them down with one exception. Capitol Records, her father's label, heard the records and agreed to sign her.
Cole, Yancy, and Jackson went into studios in Los Angeles to polish the recordings they had shipped, resulting in the release of Cole's debut album, Inseparable, which included songs that reminded listeners of Aretha Franklin. In fact, Franklin later contended that songs such as "This Will Be", "I Can't Say No", and others were originally offered to her while she was recording the You album. Franklin turned most of the songs down but agreed to record the title track for her album. Cole also recorded "You". Released in 1975, the album became an instant success thanks to "This Will Be", which became a top ten hit and later winning Cole a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. A second single, "Inseparable", also became a hit. Both songs reached number-one on the R&B chart. Cole also won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards for her accomplishments, making her the first African-American artist to attain that feat. The media's billing of Cole as the "new Aretha Franklin" inadvertently started a rivalry between the two singers. The feud's apex boiled over at the 1976 Grammy Awards when Cole bested Franklin in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category, of which Franklin won awards for eight consecutive years prior to losing to Cole.
Becoming an instant star, Cole responded to critics of an impending sophomore slump with Natalie, released in 1976. The album, like Inseparable, became a gold success thanks to the funk-influenced cut "Sophisticated Lady" and the jazz-influenced "Mr. Melody".
Cole released her first platinum record with her third release, Unpredictable, mainly thanks to the number-one R&B hit, "I've Got Love on My Mind". Originally an album track, the album's closer, "I'm Catching Hell", nonetheless became a popular Cole song during live concert shows. Later in 1977, Cole issued her fourth release and second platinum album, Thankful, which included another signature Cole hit, "Our Love". Cole was the first female artist to have two platinum albums in one year. To capitalize on her fame, Cole starred on her own TV special, which attracted such celebrities as Earth, Wind & Fire, and also appeared on the TV special, "Sinatra and Friends." In 1978, Cole released her first live album, Natalie Live!
In early 1979, the singer was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, she released two more albums, I Love You So and the Peabo Bryson duet album, We're the Best of Friends. Both albums reached gold status in the U.S. continuing her popularity.
Career detour and resurgence
Following the release of her eighth album, 1980's Don't Look Back, Cole's career began to take a detour. While Cole scored an adult contemporary hit with the soft rock ballad "Someone That I Used To Love" off the album, the album itself failed to go gold. In 1981, Cole's personal problems, including battles with drug addiction, began to attract public notice, and her career suffered as a result. In 1983, following the release of her album I'm Ready, released on Epic, Cole entered a rehab facility in Connecticut and reportedly stayed there for a period of six months.
Following her release, she signed with the Atco imprint Modern Records and released Dangerous, which started a slow resurgence for Cole in terms of record sales and chart success. In 1987, she changed to EMI-Manhattan Records and released the album Everlasting, which returned her to the top of the charts thanks to singles such as "Jump Start (My Heart)", the top ten ballad, "I Live For Your Love", and her dance-pop cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac". That success helped Everlasting reach one million in sales and become Cole's first platinum album in ten years. In 1989, she released her follow-up to Everlasting, Good to Be Back, which produced the number two hit "Miss You Like Crazy"; it also achieved international success, reaching the top ten in the United Kingdom.
Cole released her best-selling album with 1991's Unforgettable... with Love on Elektra Records, which saw Cole singing songs her famous father recorded, nearly 20 years after she initially had refused to cover her father's songs during live concerts. Cole produced vocal arrangements for the songs, with piano accompaniment by her uncle Ike Cole. Cole's label released an interactive duet between Cole and her father on the title song, "Unforgettable". The song eventually reached number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number ten on the R&B chart, going gold. Unforgettable...with Love eventually sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S. alone and won several Grammys, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for the top song.
Cole followed that success with another album of jazz standards, titled Take a Look, in 1993, which included her recording of the title track in the same styling that her idol Aretha Franklin had recorded nearly 30 years earlier. The album eventually went gold while a holiday album, Holly & Ivy, also became gold. Another standards release, Stardust, went platinum and featured another duet with her father on a modern version of "When I Fall in Love", which helped Cole earn another Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
In 1999, Cole returned to her 1980s-era urban contemporary recording style with the release of Snowfall on the Sahara on June and second holiday album The Magic of Christmas on October, which recorded with London Symphony Orchestra. A year later, the singer collaborated on the production of her biopic, Livin' For Love: The Natalie Cole Story, which featured Theresa Randle in the role of Cole. She also released the compilation Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 to fulfill her contract with Elektra. She changed to Verve Records and released two albums. 2002's Ask a Woman Who Knows continued her jazz aspirations, while 2006's Leavin' again featured Cole singing pop, rock and R&B standards. Her cover of Aretha Franklin's "Daydreaming", became a minor hit on the R&B charts. In 2008, seventeen years after Unforgettable... with Love, Cole released Still Unforgettable, which included not only songs made famous by her father but other artists, including Frank Sinatra. The album later resulted in Grammy wins for Cole.
In April 2012, she appeared as a Pennington Great Performers series artist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.
Television and film career
Cole carved out a secondary career in acting. She also appeared several times in live concerts or other music related programs, including the 1988 Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute with sidemen Richard Campbell, Jeffrey Worrell, Eddie Cole and Dave Joyce. In 1990, she (along with jazz vocalist Al Jarreau) sang the song "Mr. President" (written by Ray Reach, Mike Loveless and Joe Sterling) on HBO's Comic Relief special, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. After Johnny Mathis appeared on a special of Cole's in 1980, the two kept in contact, and in 1992, he invited Cole to be a part of his television special titled "A Tribute To Nat Cole" for BBC-TV in England. It had high viewer ratings and was successful. From that project, an album with the same name was released, and featured several medley and solo numbers. In 1992, following the success of the Unforgettable: With Love album, PBS broadcast a special based on the album. Unforgettable, With Love: Natalie Cole Sings the Songs of Nat "King" Cole received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program; and Cole received a nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance, losing to Bette Midler.
In 1993, she was among the guests of honor attending Wrestlemania IX at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada. She was interviewed by television staff after the conclusion of the Money Incorporated vs Megamaniacs tag team match regarding her upcoming work. The same year she performed at the 65th Academy Awards performing a medley of two Oscar-nominated songs: "Run to You" and "I Have Nothing", both originally performed by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard. Cole made a number of dramatic appearances on television, including guest appearances on I'll Fly Away, Touched by an Angel, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2006, she made a guest appearance on the ABC show Grey's Anatomy as a terminally ill patient. Her character visited Seattle Grace Hospital to have a fork removed from her neck that her husband had stabbed her with during a mishap; the couple had been having sex in public.
Cole also made several appearances in feature films, most recently in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely. She appeared in several made-for-TV movies, most notably as the lead in Lily in Winter. Cole was featured on Macy Gray's album Big, singing "Finally Make Me Happy". In 2001, she starred as herself in Livin' for Love: the Natalie Cole Story, for which she received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. She also sang the national anthem with the Atlanta University Center Chorus at Super Bowl XXVIII. On December 2, 2006, Cole performed for the first time in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, as part of the annual Cayman Jazz Fest.
On the February 5, 2007, episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Cole sang "I Say a Little Prayer" at a benefit dinner for Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson). She can also be seen in the last scene of Nas' music video for "Can't Forget About You". The song uses a sample of her father's song "Unforgettable". Cole is sitting at a piano in a cabaret-style lounge mouthing her father's song with Nas standing beside her. Cole also performed "Something's Gotta Give" on American Idol on April 29, 2009. In September 2010, Cole performed with Andrea Bocelli in a concert at the Kodak Theatre, for his album My Christmas, in which she recorded a duet with him, and from December 10–13, 2009, she appeared with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Christmas concerts. Both were videotaped for presentation on PBS in December 2010.
On July 22, 2011, Cole appeared on the reality television series, The Real Housewives of New York City. In February 2012, Cole appeared as a guest judge on the fourth series of reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race. The bottom two competitors lip-synced to her song This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) to decide who would stay and who would be eliminated. On Father’s Day, 2013, Natalie was in Tina Sinatra's Father’s Day Special on Sirius Radio. It also featured Deana Martin, Monica Mancini and Daisy Torme, all reminiscing about their famous fathers.
Cole was married three times. She married Marvin Yancy, songwriter, producer and former member of the 1970s R&B group The Independents on July 31, 1976. She had a son, Robert Adam "Robbie" Yancy (October 14, 1977 – August 14, 2017); he was a musician who toured with her. Marvin was her producer, and an ordained Baptist minister who helped reintroduce her to religion. Under his influence, Cole changed from a lapsed Episcopalian to become a devout Baptist. Cole and Yancy got divorced in 1980; Yancy died of a heart attack in 1985, aged 34. In 1989, Cole married record producer and former drummer for the band Rufus, Andre Fischer; they were divorced in 1995. In 2001, Cole married bishop Kenneth Dupree; they divorced in 2004. In 2017, son Robbie died of a heart attack, aged 39.
Cole was active in the Afghan World Foundation cause, supporting Sonia Nassery Cole (no relation).
Drug abuse and recovery
In 2000, Cole released an autobiography, Angel on My Shoulder, which described her battle with drugs during much of her life, including heroin and crack cocaine. At one stage as an addict, Cole worked as a prostitute’s tout in order to fund her drug habit. Cole said she began recreational drug use while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was arrested in Toronto, Canada, for possession of heroin in 1975. Cole spiralled out of control – including one incident during which she refused to evacuate a burning building, and another during which her young son Robert nearly drowned in the family swimming pool while she was on a drug binge. She entered rehab in 1983. Her autobiography was released in conjunction with a made-for-TV movie, Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story, which aired December 10, 2000 on NBC and re-aired October 26, 2011, on Centric TV.
Cole announced in 2008 that she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, which is a liver disease that is spread through contact with infected blood. Cole attributed having the disease to her past intravenous drug use. Cole explained in 2009 that hepatitis C “stayed in my body for 25 years, and it could still happen to addicts who are fooling around with drugs, especially needles.”
Four months after starting treatment for hepatitis C, Cole experienced kidney failure and required dialysis three times a week for nine months. Following her appeal for a kidney on the Larry King Show, she was contacted by the organ procurement agency One Legacy, in May 2009. The facilitated donation came from a family requesting that, if there were a match, their donor’s kidney be designated for Cole.
Death and funeral
Cole cancelled several events in December 2015 due to illness. It was reported on January 1, 2016, that she had died the day prior at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Her family stated that at the time of her death, Cole had "ongoing health issues". According to Cole's publicist, Maureen O’Connor, the singer's death was the result of congestive heart failure.
In official news on her cause of death, her family stated that Cole was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension after her kidney transplant in 2009. Though Cole was clean and sober at the time of her passing, her past intravenous drug use contributed to her demise.
Cole's son, along with her sisters, offered the following comment. "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."
Cole's funeral was held on January 11, 2016, at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles. David Foster, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Eddie Levert, Mary Wilson, Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Jesse Jackson, Angela Bassett, Denise Nicholas, Marla Gibbs, Jackée Harry and Freda Payne were among the mourners at the funeral. After the funeral, she was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
- 1975: Inseparable
- 1976: Natalie
- 1977: Unpredictable
- 1977: Thankful
- 1979: I Love You So
- 1980: Don't Look Back
- 1981: Happy Love
- 1983: I'm Ready
- 1985: Dangerous
- 1987: Everlasting
- 1989: Good to Be Back
- 1991: Unforgettable... with Love
- 1991: Yakety Yak, Take it Back
- 1992: Trash Talk
- 1993: Take a Look
- 1994: Holly & Ivy
- 1996: Stardust
- 1996: A Celebration Of Christmas (with José Carreras/Plácido Domingo)
- 1999: Snowfall on the Sahara
- 2002: Ask a Woman Who Knows
- 2006: Leavin'
- 2008: Still Unforgettable
- 2008: Caroling, Caroling: Christmas with Natalie Cole
- 2010: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
- 2013: Natalie Cole en Español
|1990||Comic Relief||Herself (performing)||HBO special|
|1991||Yakety Yak, Take it Back||Herself||Live action/animated movie|
|1992||A Tribute to Nat King Cole||Herself (performing)||BBC special|
|1992||Trash Talk||Herself||Live action/animated movie|
|1997||Cats Don't Dance||Sawyer (singing voice)||Animated movie|
|1998||Always Outnumbered||Lula Brown|
|2006||Grey's Anatomy||Mrs. Booker||Season 2 episode: "Band-Aid Covers the Bullet Hole"|
|2007||Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip||Musical performer||Episode 14: "The Harriet Dinner" (Pt. 2)|
|2012||RuPaul's Drag Race||Herself/Judge||Season 4 episode: "Glamazons vs. Champions"|
|2012||"Nat King Cole: Afraid Of The Dark"||Herself||STARS/ENCORE|
Accolades and honors
The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Cole received nine awards from 21 nominations.
|1976||Best New Artist||Natalie Cole||Won|
|Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||"This Will Be"||Won|
|1977||Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female||Natalie||Nominated|
|1978||Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female||"I've Got Love on My Mind"||Nominated|
|1980||I Love You So||Nominated|
|1990||Good to Be Back||Nominated|
|Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal||"We Sing Praises" (with Deniece Williams)||Nominated|
|1992||Album of the Year||Unforgettable… with Love||Won|
|Record of the Year||"Unforgettable" (with Nat King Cole)||Won|
|Best Traditional Pop Performance||Won|
|Best Jazz Vocal Performance||Long 'Bout Midnight||Nominated|
|1994||Best Jazz Vocal Performance||Take a Look||Won|
|1997||Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals||"When I Fall in Love" (with Nat King Cole)||Won|
|Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance||Stardust||Nominated|
|2003||Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals||"Better Than Anything" (with Diana Krall)||Nominated|
|Best Jazz Vocal Album||Ask a Woman Who Knows||Nominated|
|2007||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||"Day Dreaming"||Nominated|
|2009||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Still Unforgettable||Won|
The Latin Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
|2013||Record of the Year||"Bachata Rosa" (with Juan Luis Guerra)||Nominated|||
|Album of the Year||Natalie Cole en Español||Nominated|
|Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Nominated|
|American Music Awards||Favorite Female Artist – Soul / Rhythm & Blues||Won|
|1991||Favorite Artist – Adult Contemporary||Won|
|1993||George & Ira Gershwin Award||Lifetime Musical Achievement||Won|||
|1999||Songwriters Hall of Fame||Hitmaker Award||Won|||
|2000||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress – Television Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special:
Livin for Love: The Natalie Cole Story
|Best Jazz Artist||Won||
|2010||Society of Singers||Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|||
|2014||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding World Music Album: Natalie Cole en Español||Won|||
- List of Billboard number-one dance hits
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. dance chart
- "The Charlotte Symphony with Natalie Cole". Ovens Auditorium. April 13, 2012. Archived from the original on April 16, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- Natalie Cole Leaves The Past Behind Cole Experiences Renewal on New Album 'Leavin' – HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (September 24, 2006) by Caitlin A. Johnson – CBSnews.com Retrieved on 05-23-07
- Natalie Cole Offers a Candid Look At Her Life in TV One On One Interview Premiering Sunday, Sept. 24 At 9 PM Blacknews.com Retrieved on May 23, 2007 Archived November 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Entertainment Weekly Archived March 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Cayman Islands Music | Cayman Islands Activities, Caribbean Islands Travel". Caymanislands.ky. Archived from the original on February 15, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- "Robert Yancy Dead: Natalie Cole's Son Tragically Dies Of Heart Attack At 39". Hollywood Life. 15 August 2017.
- "Natalie Cole, singer - obituary". 2016.
- The Detroit Free Press, "Heir To Jazz Legend With Grammys Of Her Own Dies ", By Sandy Cohen and Mesfin Fekadu, January 2, 2016, page 5A
- The Daily Mail, Ravaged by the drug addiction...singer Natalie Cole, By Rebecca Hardy for MailOnline, August 23, 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2400017/Natalie-Cole-dying-kidney-disease-tells-Rebecca-Hardy-fate-intervened.html#ixzz3w6CDPhhu
- "Natalie Cole, Grammy winning singer, has died". Associated Press. January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- "Natalie Cole, Grammy winning singer, has died". KABC. January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- "Natalie Cole, Grammy Winning Singer, Has Died". YAHOO! Music by YAHOO! News. Associated Press. January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Natalie Cole has died at 65; 'Unforgettable' singer was daughter of legendary Nat King Cole by Josh Rottenberg, LA Times, January 1, 2016
- "Natalie Cole's death due to rare lung disease, heart failure".
- "Autopsy: The Last Hours of Natalie Cole." Autopsy. Nar. Eric Meyers. Exec. Prod. Ed Taylor and Michael Kelpie. Reelz, 27 May 2017. Television.
- "Natalie Cole, R&B and jazz singer, dies aged 65". BBC News. BBC. January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- "Natalie Cole Honored by Family, Friends at Private Memorial : People.com". PEOPLE.com.
- "Natalie Cole Funeral: Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Gladys Knight & More Mourn - Billboard". Billboard.
- "Past Winners Search". Grammy.com. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- "Latin Grammys 2013: The complete list of winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- "cog". Uclalumni.net. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
- "Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award". The Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
- "2001 Image Award Winners". Awardsandwinners. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
- Vaughn, Christopher. "1992 Image Awards". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
- "2003 Image Award Winners". Retrieved May 14, 2016.
- "Ella Award Special Events". February 12, 2011. Archived from the original on May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- "45th NAACP Image Award Winners | NAACP".
- Fink, Mitchell and Rubin, Lauren. Natalie Cole's Secret Drug Peril. Daily News. October 16, 2000. Retrieved January 29, 2006.
- Official website
- Natalie Cole at AllMusic
- Natalie Cole on IMDb
- Natalie Cole at Find a Grave
- Natalie Cole at the Internet Broadway Database
- Natalie Cole biography and updates at Soul Tracks
- Natalie Cole interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' September 2008
- Talk with Audrey interview with Natalie Cole 2012. Talking about her life, her music and her legacy.